Consider the following fictional story:
Bob goes into work one day and finds a memo on his desk, “From this week forward, there will be no remittance for work completed.”
Bob laughs nervously and looks around the office. His office mates make themselves look busy as they secretly cry in their cubicles.
He’s outraged. How is it that he can possibly work without pay?
To an Author – a review is a sort of payment for the hours spent bleeding at a keyboard. (It really is that important.)
As a reader, I look at the reviews first. Most of us do. I want to know that others were gripped by a story or, conversely, thought it was a waste of time.
Here’s the conundrum: As much as Authors want to see many, many stars next to their baby, the ego-shattering, soul-crushing one star review from “Molly” threatens to make the Author want to quit.
However, research has shown that negative reviews add credibility and that most readers and potential buyers are wary and suspicious of all five-star reviews.
I say – BULL with a capital “B”. As a reader, if I see a work has been awarded only 5 stars, my interest is piqued. I’ll delve further and read the preview of the work and raise my brows at how eloquently the Author writes. I’ll marvel at the pretty cover or handsome devil on the front and I’ll want to know more. Basically, I will make up my own mind.
Let’s bring back “Bob” for a moment under scenario number 2. Fresh-faced and holding his beloved latte, Bob makes his way to his desk one morning, turns on his computer and finds an email from his boss. “After our last meeting and careful review, I am pleased to inform you that your pay will increase by 5% starting with the next pay period. Your paid sick days have also been upped to 10. I want to thank you for your dedication and hard work.”
Bob is ecstatic and believes in himself so much that one year later, he is at the top of the corporate ladder boasting a shiny, untarnished employee profile – or – in other words, 5 stars across the board.
Now let’s ponder the question: Does Bob’s 5 star ability diminish his credibility? Of course not. It got him a raise and more perks. So why should an Author with 5 star reviews across the board be any different?
What it all comes down to is this, dear reader: Do you like the premise of the book? Does the cover entice you? Have you read the Author in the past and enjoyed their work? Then don’t let their hard work (read 5 stars) dissuade you or make you suspicious that only grandma, Aunt Sue and sister Sally have carefully posted those glowing stars. Take into consideration that perhaps the Author MERITS those stars. Take into consideration that they may be the writing equivalent of Pavarotti Take into consideration that if you pass them by and purchase a different book, based solely on the reviews, you are taking food out of an Author’s mouth. You are denying them a CHANCE. You may be missing out on your next great read.
Sure, a 1 or 2 or 3 star review is inevitable somewhere down the line. Any Author will tell you that they’d love to hear from you, regardless of your rating. But let’s not put labels on silly things. Bob in scenario number two is a hard worker who merits his stars. Silly labels are like the ones on powdered orange juice: “Not made from real juice.”
Be like Bob, instead.
Barbara Avon is a multi-genre Author. She has written since she was young, pursuing her dreams and vowing to write for as long as she can. She has worked at several different media publications and will continue to publish novels until “her pen runs dry”. In 2018 she won FACES Magazine’s “Best of Ottawa” award for female Author and Spillwords “Author of the Month”. She believes in paying it forward and you can read about this belief as the theme is given voice in most of her books. Avon lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband, Danny, their tarantula, Betsy, and their houseplant, Romeo.
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