Why Reviews are So Important

If you have bought anything from different shopping websites in the last two years, your email spam or junk folder is probably filled with requests for you to please leave a review.

If you don’t know alot about what you are buying, there is a good chance the first thing you do is look for at the number of stars or reviews the product has received from other buyers. I’m going to use Amazon as my default here because Amazon is my go-to for about everything.

amazon, reviews, average customer selection

If I’m not blown away by the initial product or description of a product or book, the first thing I do is sort by the Avg. Customer Reviews – Average Customer Reviews.

The more reviews a product, or in my case a book receives the higher the product is listed on the Amazon search pages and in the rankings. But it’s not always that simple.

A secondary algorithm, used by Amazon is helping to determine product rankings. When you read a review there is one button and two words.

Reviews, amazon, helpful

Slowly, these have become just as important as the reviews themselves. If you read a review and you click the Helpful button, and then you buy the item that creates Amazon’s own organic pyramid of activity to help set the rankings.

This does not always work. Amazon still scans for misuse of their system. They look for comments that are obvious signs of negative feedback from a possible competitor. Paid reviews, which are a serious infraction with Amazon are also looked for by the Amazon computer intelligence. These are where product manufacturers or writers ask or pay someone to leave reviews for them. If you see a good consistent five-star rating look at the reviews. If they are not well written or sound scripted, they may be bought reviews.

Leaving a bad review is not always a negative thing.

My first book was read by someone who left me a great review on GoodReads. I was ecstatic for such a detailed review! At that time, I was in the process of revamping Magic Denied and because I loved her original feedback, I wanted an honest opinion. Sending her a private message, I asked if she would like to read the second book.

I got a brutally honest, review.

She gave it four stars, with abbreviated comments of why only four stars. She sent me a much longer private message with a list of issues she found wrong with the book.

I immediately become defensive and never responded. I went back to my manuscript and continued to revamp Magic Denied,  But, I found myself rereading her comments. She had pointed out the errors and now I could see them. Without realizing it, I started including her suggestions. Not from looking at her notes, but because of the brutal honesty. In the process, I found my writing was stronger and I was able to flow easily through the work. The finished product was much better than I had anticipated and I was ready to send it to a new set of eyes for editing again.

Things can change with those little stars!

This year, I have been continuously hustling between my private life, writing, website maintenance, advertising, and everything else. My dream of being a writer has been tested. As a result, I was not delivering a well-developed product, or worse, not writing at all! I finally gave in and decided to hire a PA or Personal Assistant company to help me. There was one company constantly showcasing the authors they represented, they would be the best place to start.

After my initial contact, I had a personal conversation with Angela Evans. She was going to evaluate me as a potential client, but also give me an overview of what they may be able to do for me. After a two hour conversation with her, she said she would get back in touch with me and we would go from there.

Karma’s a Bitch

Thirty-six hours later, I had a video conference with Angela Evans and Jenny Dillion. They were taking me on as a client. Angela explained she would be my primary contact with Prologue & Prose.

She started explaining how they would be handling me as an author and also the plan for the branding of my books. Angela had not completely read both books but she could see the potential and the future of the series. It was an awesome feeling and relief to know someone was taking over the areas that required attention. I was going to be able to finally have time to work on my products.

Angela started explaining Jenny’s role was editing and refining my storylines. I told Jenny, I understood if she hadn’t had enough time to read the books. Without missing a beat and a huge smile, Jenny commented she had read both of my books – three months earlier!

This is Karma deciding I needed a wake-up call. Jenny had read my first book because of a blog tour, I had done in April. I had privately sent her my second book. She had reviewed that book also and sent me an email. My head felt like a pinball machine as I started connecting the dots. She was the one!

“You’re the one! I’ve been editing Magic Denied for you!”

Jenny enjoyed herself, at my expense, as I explained how I had unconsciously included all of her writing suggestions.

Even though I wasn’t able to add Jenny as an Editor because of the craziness of the Kindle publishing world. She was the final person to go through Magic Denied before it was re-released this year. She was the one who helped me become confident in releasing the book in print form.

So, you see, bad reviews are not always bad. I see authors and companies change their books and products; even the description to increase the quality and awareness of their books or products. We as authors ask that if you leave three stars, tell us “Why.” You never know, but you actually might make a difference. Jenny did for me!

Side Note

bad review

I covered the identifying remarks on this very real review.

Please look at the details of a book before you read or even buy it. Take an extra minute to read the description and notice the genre of the book. If it sounds interesting or exciting, click “Buy Now.” Some attention to details can save time, money, and you from feeling the need to write a negative review.

A friend of mine received this review of one of her books. This was a review she got for a book specifically about BDSM. The subject of the book is pretty evident in the description, the cover, and everywhere else. This review is on the THIRD book of a series, specifically known for being in that genre. That review will always be on that book. Is this a fair review?

Reviews can be good. But haphazardly left reviews can hurt authors and prevent them from being able to make real sales. Now, most of her fans laugh about this review, but it still leaves an impression. No pun intended.



By Shelly McGowan

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