I recently read a blog post about book reviews from an author whose first book will be published soon.
Most authors dread bad reviews, but I think the number of reviews you get is more important than the rating and content of any specific review. Sometimes a negative review entices me to read the book, because what the reviewer didn’t like is something I do like or vice-versa.
I actually have few reviews on most of my own books, as I don’t like to ask for reviews. Since I value reviews, I write at least a brief review of every book I read and post it on both Amazon.com and Goodreads.
As a reviewer, I like to give readers a sense of what I liked or didn’t like so they can make up their own mind about whether they would enjoy the book or not. I seldom give a negative review and when I do, it’s because of something very specific–more often than not because the book seems to stop in the middle and ends with a cliffhanger saying “continued…” If a book is part of a series, I think the description should indicate if it ends in a cliffhanger or I feel deceived. Otherwise, I generally abandon a book rather than finishing and writing a negative review.
I read a book about publishing success by a best-selling author who said you should have as many 1-star reviews as 5-star reviews. Your book should be so targeted to a specific audience that people in that group love it and people outside the target audience hate it.
Most authors don’t like to think someone doesn’t love their book. Typically, when I ask prospective clients who the target audience is for their book, they say, “Everybody!” But we all have preferences, and no book is right for “everybody.”
I’ve already mentioned that I hate cliffhangers, but some readers love them. I enjoy romance, mysteries, and Christian fiction and nonfiction, but I don’t read fantasy, erotica, or horror. If I’m reading a book and discover it’s horror, I will probably abandon it. However, if the horror doesn’t appear until I’m so invested in the story that I want to know the ending, I may finish it but my review will reflect that I didn’t like coming across horror that I wasn’t expecting.
My goal with my reviews is to give enough information about my reaction to the book to help readers decide if they want to read the book. Even if I didn’t love the book, other readers will.