Saturday, February 22, 2014
The strangeness of some internet reviews
Now that my third SF novel has been published, I've taken the time to go back and read through the couple of hundred comments my books have attracted over time. I don't even mind the low-star reviews, provided that the reviewer makes his case and supports his points with evidence. I really benefit from such reviews, as I read and re-read them and take them into account when writing the next book. I did that with reviews of the first two volumes of the Maxwell Saga, and with beta reader feedback, when I delayed the publication of 'Adapt and Overcome' for two months to allow me to improve my character development and tighten up the plot and storyline. I hope and trust you, dear readers, have found it an improvement; and rest assured, I'll try to make Book Four better than Book Three in its turn.
Some reviews, however, are downright strange. There's the reader who claimed he bought a copy of my first book 'at a discount but it was worth far less'. If he didn't like it, fair enough - but my book had never been on sale at a discount when he made that comment! Another reviewer of my first book was outraged at my description of a fork penetrating the hand of one character. He found it completely unbelievable. Unfortunately, that's one of the many incidents in all my books that's actually based on fact! There are multiple eye-witnesses to its reality. Another comment on my latest book caught my eye this evening. The reader (?) complained that 'Some editing is still needed in places as there are obvious typos and grammar issues'. Fair enough, if true: but I've had a number of reviewers comment that one reason they like my books is that there are so few 'typos and grammar issues'. In the latest book, to which this reviewer is referring, I've had no complaints whatsoever about its copy-editing - until today, at any rate.
Such problems aren't limited to my books, of course. Most authors who've been published for a while have similar stories of reviews that appear to miss the point, or beg the question, or leave something else to be desired. There are even some actively destructive reviewers out there. Miss D. informs me that on Kindle Boards, where many independent authors hang out in the Writers' Cafe sub-forum, there's a well-known phenomenon. There are 'lurkers' who watch for authors posting details of their sales figures. As soon as someone posts a sales success story, within a day or so one or more one-star reviews will appear on their books' Amazon pages. Someone on Kindle Boards was interested enough to do some research on this, and the pattern is inescapable. One can only conclude that some lurkers out there are jealous of success, and determined to undermine it in any way possible. Why, I have no idea . . .
Oh, well. I can't account for such issues. All I can say is, if you've read my book(s), I'll be very grateful if you'll please leave reviews on their Amazon pages. It helps other prospective readers to assess whether or not they'll find them interesting; and whether you liked it/them or not, your comments will help me to write better in future. Everybody wins!