Total Pageviews

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Curse of the 1 and 5 Star Reviews.

 When my ebook was first published online back in April one of the first things that came to mind was the opinions of those who read it.

With digital publishing, reviews are so easy to give because no matter which online store you use, there will always be a place for you to leave your thoughts. This has its advantages and disadvantages, of course, as you never know how genuine the review actually is. With Smashwords people have to buy the book before they can write the review, and I think this policy is the most sensible one to have. While people do not read every book they buy, especially if they downloaded it for free, I think in the majority of cases it it safe to assume that as long as the book has been purchased, people will read it. After all, unless they're free, how many people can read books they've never bought? All reviews on Smashwords are from people who have at least bought the books, even if they haven't read them.  And this is why I trust reviews on Smashwords far more than I trust reviews on Amazon because Amazon don't have this same policy. People on Amazon can post reviews on books regardless of whether they have actually bought them and I think this leaves the system open to a higher level of abuse. Trolling is now a widespread occurrence and with the system that Amazon have in place, it is no real surprise. Some people find it amusing to trash the authors and their books by giving very poor reviews simply because they have some sort of personal vendetta against them or they just have anything better to do with their time other than make someone else's life a misery.

On the other side of the coin, people suspect that some 5 star reviews are fake and the author has asked their friends to dish them out, or has just paid someone a fee for a glowing report on their book. I must admit I think the same type of thoughts when I see a book with thirty + 5 star reviews and no other reviews to balance things out. From this angle the whole system can be extremely unfair as the highest reviews place the book with a high rank. If people believed every single online review there would be disappointment all round if they discover they do not have the same taste. So this is why most people take no notice of 5 and 1 star reviews because they're not always genuine, but some 1 and 5 star reviews are well placed.

Books are entirely subjective and this is my personal reason why I tend not to take notice of the 1 and 5 stars as it's highly likely I will have my own opinion. And there are probably a plethora of motives behind these ratings as well. When I first started thinking about publishing my book online, I thought five star reviews were the best opinions you could ever have but since I have got to know more about this industry, I have now decided otherwise. I haven't had that many reviews but the ones I have had have all been 5 stars, except for one 1 star which I suspect was provoked by a moral reaction judging by what the reviewer had actually said.

So this is why I am beyond estactic to receive my first 4 star review. And what makes this even better is the fact that the review is detailed, thoughtful and well balanced, making this my first review which is most likely to be perceived as believable to my readers. I would like to add that none of my 5 star reviews have been fake but I am now more than pleased to have a four star rating to even things out.

To see this review please go to:


  1. I had a 1-star review on Goodreads once, actually the girl had never finished the book. What bothered me about it was she never said why she couldn’t get through it. I have my suspicions – I suspect she was a bit young for the book and all the cultural references (which any British male over the age of forty will get) flew right over her head. Then there is also the problem of reader expectation. You can do nothing about that. A ‘review’ like that is not very helpful to anyone but at least she wrote something. Too many 'reviews' on Goodreads consist of a star rating and nothing else and I wish that Goodreads wouldn’t allow them at all. You should have to write something to back up your star rating.

  2. Hi! I love your blogs. You are so informative and intelligent! Thanks for your brilliant blog posts!

  3. Thanks for sharing this Jim. I agree with you about the ratings with no text to explain why - that shouldn't be allowed. If you're going to take the time out to rate something then you should also take the time to explain yourself.

    And Lisa, thank you very much - what a lovely thing to say! : ) I try my best to do my bit, I'm just so glad you love my blog so much.

  4. Interesting perspective on the Smashwords reviews versus those on Amazon, L.K. Cannot fully agree with you on this, as some Amazon reviewers have posted their thoughts on books that they have borrowed from others or checked out from a public library. As an Amazon reviewer will say that about 25-30% of mine have been on books and products purchased elsewhere.

    In any case, your posting here made me take a look at your Secret Confessions of a Backpacker, so I had to get a copy of my own...

  5. Thank you very much for sharing this, Jargon. I do hope you like my book! :)