Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Do Reviews on Amazon Matter?

As a writer, the opinions of the reader can be pretty important. Sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes it's a bad thing. Sometimes it’s the thing that can give your self-confidence a nasty shake--if you let it! Today I’m exploring the importance of reviews on Amazon.


Do they really matter?


After all, it's not like the people commenting are world famous critics. Sure, they may picture themselves as the Simon Cowell of the literary world, but in reality, most readers who leave a review on Amazon are your Average Joes--ordinary people who like to read.


Yes, I've heard and seen first-hand the readers that just like to rip apart a book because they can. I don't like that practice, but it is what it is. I also don't think that most readers intend to be that way. But a word of advice to all you writers who get hot under the collar about such things--chill out. Don't respond. Don't comment or try to justify yourself or your book. It never ends well and always makes the writer look like an ass.


But back to the question I posed today: Do reviews on Amazon matter?


I say yes. They definitely help other readers figure out whether or not this is a book that might be for them. Through review comments, a potential buyer can learn the genre of the book, how long it might take to read it, and whether or not it's got the right tone for them. The more reviews you have on Amazon, the better they can make the determination as to whether or not they should add your book to their collection.


Don't believe me?


Read through some of the comments from reviewers on Amazon. Many of them say they purchased the book because of all the reviews.


Of course getting reviews is a whole other blog post…


For you readers who aren't sure whether to leave a review or not, I say do it. Even if you didn't like the book, leave the review. Feedback is the breakfast of champions. How else will writers improve (assuming the ego can get past the sting of criticism) and get better? Editors, agents, and publishers are all well and good things to have. But nothing tells you where you are at in the process of writing like a review from Average Joe.


In fact, what prompted me to write this post was the anger of an Average Joe reviewer--my mother. She is an avid reader of the Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin. However, when she reached the end of the fourth book, I got a nasty phone call. She hated the way the book ended. All the characters she wanted to know about where in the next book and she'd invested all that time getting through the novel only to find that out at the end! How dare Martin trick her like that!


I asked her if she was going to read the fifth book. She answered "no" and then revised that answer to "well, at least not right away." Mr. Martin could wait a little while before he got her money for Book 5!


That's when I advised her to write a review on Amazon. Maybe this was something other readers might want to know about.


Of course, I doubt George R.R. Martin (who needs two middle names?) reads the Amazon reviews, but you never know!


Happy reviewing!



  1. You make good points, Mary Ann. That's so funny about your mother and GRR Martin! Should we take bets on whether or not she eventually reads #5? And did she leave a review??

  2. This subject comes up on the Murder Must Advertise list every so often, and I'm always interested in reading what list-members think. Some think "non-expert" reviews are worthless. Others, like you and me, think they can be very helpful and even influence people to buy our books. I was glad to see you come down on that side. And very funny about your mother's reaction to the Martin book. I'd be ticked, too. Like Kaye, I'd love to know if she wrote a review, and if she ends up, because the curiosity must be killing her, buying the next in the series. If she does, I hope the same thing doesn't happen again!

  3. I talked to my mom last night and she told me that she did leave a review! I don't know how hard she actually came down on Mr. Martin, but I think it made her feel better to do that. However, she told me she was going to break down and buy the fifth book! I knew she would eventually!

    Jan, like the "non-expert" reviews because they are the people who either read a lot or just like to read. I like that they don't necessarily think like writers. I'm glad you agree with me on this

  4. I definitely used to buy things based on reviews, but I stopped when I most recently discovered that 33% of reviews are fake. I went back and looked at some of my favorite indie books. Then, I realized that they had a lot of 2-3 line reviews when they first started. Even John Locke admitted buying 50 "honest" reviews, which turned out to be one guy writing a ton of reviews himself. After that, I gave up on trusting what other people were saying. If the cover is nice ;) and I like the synopsis/preview, I'll get it. I leave reviews to help authors, but I don't trust them anymore.

  5. Hmm..good points and food for thought, Kash! I like the more detailed reviews myself, especially if they have one or two contructive points to them. That usually tells me if they read it. I'm glad you still leave reviews though!