About our reviews – and reviews in general.
As you may know this website only posts the most positive and the most negative reviews. That means we read many, many works that fall somewhere in between that we don’t bother to post. Reviews about art in general and the subgenre of literature are the most subjective of all types of reviews. What one person considers trash is another’s treasure of course. Take any book and you’ll find positive reviews and negative ones. How can this be?
It is fascinating to a degree to study one book’s reviews. We’ve seen some real problem books receive hundreds and even thousands of positive reviews and vice-versa, really excellent books get low or negative reviews. Can this all be the result of just different opinions? To see really poorly written books with lame characters and impossible plots get gushingly good reviews is difficult to comprehend. Is there more than meets the eye? Is something else going on?
In case you are not aware, there are people out there offering favorable reviews for payment. The more the author pays, the more positive reviews he or she will get. The author picks the number they want, they pay, and presto Amazon reviews start pouring in.
We have seen books that are not even published or have just been published days prior already have hundreds of stellar reviews. Is that good planning? Advance work? Beta copies distributed? Who knows? It is rather suspicious though – just as terrible books getting a massive amount of positive reviews.
On the flip side we’ve seen so many completely unjustified bad reviews. This seems especially true on Amazon unfortunately. If the book was late shipping for example, does that deserve a one star review? We noticed a reviewer who clearly stated he never read the book, but gave it one star because of some perceived insult! Or someone didn’t like the cover, or didn’t like the philosophy, does that deserve a one star review? You may disagree with what takes place in ‘Lolita’ or ‘The Fountainhead’, but does that mean they deserve one star?
Still, as we stated at the beginning, reviews are subjective and opinions vary wildly. One sign you can look for when you check reviews is the ratio between positive and negative or one star and five star reviews. It’s a pretty good rule of thumb that on any given good book the negative reviews will be about 5% and that ratio will hold throughout the life of the book. Another telltale is if the reviewer actually ever read the book. One recent book we reviewed has an ending so twisted and shocking it’s impossible to mistake or miss, yet several reviews, both positive and negative, never mention it. Hmmm.
So to set the record straight: We don’t get paid for reviews. Several of us read every book from cover to cover. We don’t pay any attention to what others say. Our opinion is ours alone. And we don’t judge books by their cover, only the story.
And just to be clear, each book is judged on its story alone. If there’s a great, creative, unique, mind blowing story with great characters and emotional impact, we’re going to rate it highly – no matter what the cover looks like or if it has a few typos or grammar mistakes.
Vice-versa a book can have a beautiful cover and expertly edited and polished , but if the story is lame, describes illogical or unrealistic details and events, or has stupid, inane characters it’s going to receive a negative rating.