Saturday, December 06, 2008

Reading Amazon Reviews

Yes, I read the reviews of my books on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. It has never occurred to me not to. I also run a Google notification for internet reviews and the same from BlogPulse, which tells me when my books get mentioned on a blog.

So, if you write a review out there on a public site, there's a pretty good chance that I will get to hear of it, and read it. I regard this as feedback from readers, and I love readers. Especially readers who buy my books and readers who care enough to write a review.

Of course, it does mean I have to take the good with the bad.

If the review is a "good" review (i.e. one which explains what the reviewer thought was good/bad, and why; what sort of readers might like/dislike the book, and why), then I learn something. That's great feedback, and I love it. It's a learning curve for me as a writer. The only thing I have to be wary of is taking one person's opinion as a universal opinion.

Occasionally writers get reviews that just trash the book without being coherent, which is not helpful. You know the kind: "Waste of paper and trees. Don't buy this stupid crap and if someone gives it to you, throw it in the rubbish bin without reading. Or better still recycle into toilet paper."

The key to reading reviews is simply to remember each is only one reader's view and if a single gushing review doth not a genius author make, a single trashing diatribe doth not a crappy book (or author) make either. You have to keep your perspective.

I was surprised to see (over on an E-forum I belong to) how many authors simply prefer not to read any reviews, particularly Amazon ones, because if they do, they obsess too much about the opinions.

Not me. I want to know what people think. My real complaint is that I don't get enough Amazon reviews to be able to generalize. I think the most reviews I've ever had for a single edition was the US edition of The Aware - 13 reviews. I am madly envious of writers who get 30 plus, let along the mega stars who get 100's for a single book.

Yep, if I was so lucky, I'd read every one...

2 comments:

Jo said...

Must admit it never occurred to me to add my views to Amazon. I guess I wouldn't be much of a reviewer anyway as I read books, enjoy them and say so or not as the case may be. I have never thought about why I enjoy a book except to say it was a good story and well written. I didn't know about tropes until you wrote about them and now see why with some books I put them down in exasperation for a while and then pick them up again later, I assume its because the tropes enable me to be quite sure what is going to happen.

My all time favourite book is Shogun by James Clavell. Now that book I have read time and again, I think it is a wonderful story. Other books I have read several times but not with the enthusiasm and enjoyment of Shogun. Too busy reading other stuff right now, but I think its time I read it again.

Satima Flavell said...

I'll bet you don't get many reviews that recommend the toilet paper recycling trick, Glenda. Let's face it, there are some books that should never have seen the light of day - but yours aren't among them!

But please don't spend too much time surfing - we want you to get on with the new trilogy. I'm sure many readers, like me, have been feeling Larke-deprived this past year, and we still have almost another full year to wait for just the first one:-(