Since I’ve been in this crazy business of writing, I’ve been on many sides of the book world; reader, writer, and even reviewer. Because I have been getting so many reviews lately, reviewing has been on my mind. Some of my thoughts you might agree with, some you might not. But, if you want an author’s opinion on reviews… keep reading.

As I mentioned, I reviewed books years back for a rather well known review site. I stopped reviewing for a variety of reasons. One, I just didn’t have the time. Two, since I was going to become a writer and romance authors are rather close knit, it didn’t feel right critiquing my fellow writers on a public forum. And three, I was too easy-going when it came to books. For me, most books are a B. Out of the years and years I’ve been reading, I can honestly say there have been only three books that I have hated; books that annoyed and frustrated me.

I was talking to a friend and fellow author the other day and she was laughing about a review she recieved. The reader seemed to enjoy her book, said only great things about it, then gave it a 3. This got me to thinking about the meaning of scores. Now, before you start wondering what’s the big deal about a 3, a 3 is average, let me explain. For me and I think most people, a 3 is about a C. If a person told you they got through school with a C average, would you think that was good? Not really. I’m not the only one to think of a 3 as a not so great score. Look for reviews in which a reviewer gave a book a 3. Now read the comments section. Most of the comments will revolve around the words “Sorry you didn’t enjoy the book,” or “Okay, good to know. I’ll skip it then.” I’m not telling you to change your scoring system, I know some of you reviewers think a 3 is fine. What I’m doing is trying to explain the mind set of most authors.

So, that’s my opinion on scores. Let’s move on.

I saw a blog not too long ago in which the blogger wrote about things authors did that drove her nuts. Curious, I read on because I thought I might learn something… perhaps certain plots or characters the reader didn’t enjoy. But nope, this was more about the authors themselves.

She hated when an author’s friends or family gave the author a good score. Let’s be honest, don’t you expect our mother’s to give us a 5? If you created something, wouldn’t you expect your friends and family to support you? I found it an odd thing to get upset over. But if you think we have so many friends, that their scores will greatly influence our rank, think again. If you look at my Amazon reviews for The Mind Readers, only one review is from a person I know, a critique partner. I certainly hope she thinks the book is a 5 considering she helped me with it. If you want a totally subjective opinion, then click on the reviewers links; usually you’ll find a website which will let you know if the reviewer is actually a reviewer and not a family member.

Something else this blogger complained about was when authors only give good scores to other authors. Once again, well, yeah. Not that surprising. Romance authors, in particular, know each other well. We’re a very tight knit community. Friends, you could say. Would you walk up to an acquaintance and tell them that something they created sucked? Most people wouldn’t. It doesn’t mean we don’t hate books we read. Of course we do. It means that we just don’t post those reviews. You might see it as being cowardly, we see it as being professional. Why give a low score to someone who, in the future, I may need a cover quote from? We’re writers, not reviewers.

Since we’re talking about things that authors do that drive reviewers nuts…let’s discuss things that reviewers do that drive authors nuts. Don’t worry, its not much.

1:When you are influenced by other reviewers. Don’t bother denying it, as I mentioned I was a reviewer before I was an author. I know the majority of reviewers will read other reviews before they post a review just to see what others thought. Someone not too long ago told me they loved my book. Then, after her friend gave me a low score, she did too. The exact same score her friend have given me. Hmmm.
2: Unprofessional reviews. Awhile back I recieved two 3’s in one day. One author belittled my work and basically made fun of it. It hurt and honestly, I wondered what the hell was wrong with the world. Then to top it off I got another 3. But funny enough, the second 3 didn’t hurt at all. The reviewer very professionally pointed out what worked for her and what didn’t work. There was no mocking, no belittling.

Not too long ago on an author loop someone was discussing what to do with a request. Someone emailed the author asked for her book so she could review it. Another author responded with something along the lines of, “I never send books to reviewers. If they want it they can email my publisher. Why should I spend money to send a book to a reviewer who is just going to get off by belittling my work?” Of course we don’t think that way of all reviewers and of course we need reviewers, but it goes to show you how well this new phase of “embarrassing the author” is working.

Before you get annoyed with me for speaking my mind, here’s the thing… no matter what they say, authors care what reviewers think. I know of many N.Y. times best selling authors who are so influenced by reviews that they actually don’t read them. These are NY bestsellers who you’d think, at this point, wouldn’t give a crap what someone thought of their work. Yes, it would be great if we didn’t care. It would be oh so noble and enlightened of us. But we’re humans. We’re artists and we write for ourselves, but also for readers. So of course we care.

I’m not saying to change your reviewing process, I’m merely explaining our thoughts on the matter. And I’m certainly not saying you can’t tell readers what books work for you and which don’t. I’m saying be professional about it. You might think of your blog as a hobby, but we think of your blog as a legitiment, professional place.

So here’s my point… We don’t tend to judge other writers out loud because we don’t want to be unprofessional. We do respect reviewers because they help us, but we do not respect unprofessional reviews. And yes, our friends and family (at times) give us good reviews but we figure its okay because its canceling out stupid reviews that make no sense, such as the 1 star the person gave my book because she/he couldn’t get the sample pages to download. You know who you are.

And finally, authors do take reviews to heart because we are humans. More importantly, we write for you; you are important to us! Without you, we wouldn’t have careers. Especially for self published authors reviews are important. Reviews are all we have to promote our work.