What Your Reviews Can Mean to Books
By Dean Murphy
Star ratings from ★ to ★★★★★ and the number of reviews each title receives influence Amazon’s algorithmic formulae. Readers can cast Yes or No votes, to indicate whether the review is helpful. Many readers, however, cast No votes based on the book, rather than the review.
Several people cast No votes for my reviews of Sue Grafton novels because they didn’t like Sue’s new hairstyle or multiple character viewpoints. Duh! Those No votes prevent my reviews from appearing near the top where they get more exposure, though my take on Grafton’s “V” installment tops 450 reviews. It’s identified as Kinsey Millhone is back with a vengeance and needs more Yes votes to balance negative ones, as some readers didn’t like how Kinsey shopped at Nordstrom for expensive silk PJs.
I reviewed two FWA collections. They need more Yes votes, if the reviews are helpful, to positively affect how Amazon’s computer calculates the number of times the reviews are viewed and reader participation.
My review of My Wheels appears as “Florida Writers Association rolls out its fourth anthology.” Though a Yes vote gets FWA more positive exposure for the book, you can purchase it from FWA’s bookstore at this link. And most of the authors are happy to autograph their entries at each conference.
To further exposure for FWA collections, your review of these books enhances Amazon algorithms, and it’s excellent byline exposure. If you’re not sure how to review a collection of short stories, select a few that influenced you and explain the rationale.
Although Bookreporter.com is my main venue, I review for Amazon FWA members’ books. Julie Compton took home a second place RPLA for her first novel, published as Tell No Lies. My review is identified as “This attorney’s slippery slope…” Of 22 reviews there’s only a single one-star rating. That “review” tells nothing about the book, but informs others of the reviewer’s inability to follow plot. The negative review and low star rating harm the author’s Amazon status.
Bookreporter posted my review of Compton’s Rescuing Olivia as “More twists than a plate of rotini pasta,” and “Olivia” was one of my 2010 Top Ten Picks. I also reviewed Randy Austin’s RPLA winner, Wizard’s Refrain, as “We’re off to see the wizard,” though it’s more a composite feature than a review.
I hope to review more books by FWA members, especially psych thrillers and mysteries. Because of limited exposure and the volume of novels I read, I’m reluctant to review self-published books—but I’m out there exemplifying FWA’s maxim: Writers Helping Writers.