Book Reviews

To Read or Not to Read?

When choosing books to read, I rely heavily on reviews. Sure, I also consider covers and blurbs, but in the end, it really is what’s on the inside that counts.

Why do I read multiple reviews when choosing a book?

Reading a variety of reviews increases the odds of me choosing a book that I will enjoy. I can’t stand feeling ripped off after investing time in a book that didn’t impress me, even if I got it for free.

Another reason I read reviews is simply for enjoyment. To be honest, I’ve come across a lot of reviews that are more entertaining than some of the books I’ve read! (Check out the one- and two-star reviews for Fifty Shade of Grey to see for yourself.)

Review Snippet

What do I consider when looking at reviews?

Breakdown of Ratings – I understand that people like different things. As my stepmother always says, “That’s why they make chocolate and vanilla ice cream.” With that in mind, I never dismiss a book simply because it has one- and two-star reviews. However, if more than 50 percent of a book’s reviews are lower than three, I won’t read it unless a Goodreads friend with similar reading interests gave it a positive review.

Length – I ignore one-sentence reviews that give zero insight into why specific ratings were chosen. I at least need to understand why a person liked or disliked a book. Did it move too slowly? Was the dialogue realistic? Did it end with a cliffhanger?

Mention of Typos – If a reviewer mentions the need for more editing, I generally won’t read a book. I can handle a few errors, but if there are so many that a reviewer feels the need to mention them, I am likely to pass. I might make an exception if I notice that the author has responded (in a non-combative way) to the reviewer asking for help locating the typos or simply stating that the errors have been/will be rectified. I’ve even seen authors offer to provide a refund to reviewers who mentioned being distracted by typos. Seeing authors reach out in this way tells me that they are passionate about providing the best possible reading experience to customers.

Disclosures – If a reviewer mentions being provided with a free copy in exchange for an honest review, I take the review seriously. The fact that someone is disclosing this in the first place tells me that the review is likely to be genuine.

Reviewer History – If a book doesn’t have very many reviews (or if a particular review strikes me as bogus), I investigate the histories of reviewers. On Amazon, this can be done by clicking on a reviewer’s name. In most cases, I can tell if someone’s review is genuine based on his review history. For example, if someone has only completed one book review (for the book I’m trying to decide on), then his opinion doesn’t mean much to me.

Is Amazon my only source for book reviews?

No, but it is the source I refer to most. If a book has very few reviews on Amazon, I also check to see what people have said on Goodreads and certain book blogs. I have seen books with only a few reviews on Amazon and dozens of reviews on Goodreads, and vice versa.

How important are book reviews to you when deciding what to read?

Ask KJ, Self Publishing

Goodreads Giveaways: Good or Bad?

When I published Click Date Repeat, one of the first things I did was create a giveaway on Goodreads. As a newbie to the world of self-publishing, I was ecstatic to have found a way to advertise my book and garner some reviews.

goodreads_icon_200x200-8b5b322a54ffbe04db26585de0830763 As the days passed and entries accumulated, I began poking around on Goodreads (which is a wonderful site for both readers and writers, by the way). I happened to stumble upon a forum thread where people were (are still) debating the effectiveness of giveaways. After reading through several posts, my stomach became queasy, and I started to regret setting up my giveaway. But then I did what I typically do when something doesn’t sit right with me, I pressed on in hopes of finding some positives. By the time I’d read each and every post, I didn’t know what to think. Are Goodreads giveaways an effective marketing tool or not?

Here’s what I gathered from the lively forum discussion:

Cons of Goodreads Giveaways

  • Book resellers make up a big chunk of the people entering to win.
  • Some people enter simply for fun or because they want to win something. They may not even be interested in your book.
  • If someone who isn’t interested in your genre wins, they might leave a bad review.
  • You might receive a bad review from a winner who reads your genre but simply didn’t care for your book.
  • Goodreads does not require winners to review the books they win.

Pros of Goodreads Giveaways

  • Hundreds of people see your book.
  • Hundreds of people shelf your book as “to-read” when they sign up, which means anyone they are friends with is likely to see your book too.
  • You might get some reviews.
  • Winners who enjoyed your book, might recommend your book to others.

So what was the outcome of the Click Date Repeat Goodreads Giveaway?

Duration of giveaway: 4 weeks

Number of entries: 701

Books delivered to winners: 5

Books Fedexed back to me at my request: 1

(Book reseller discovered by Goodreads one day after I mailed out the book. They chose a replacement winner. Thank you, Goodreads! Story for another post!)

Number of Reviews: 3

Number of people who have it marked as “to-read” as of the date of this post: 326

As for the two winners who have not reviewed my book yet, one still has it on her to-read shelf, and the other doesn’t have it on any of her shelves. Could she be a reseller? Sure. Or maybe she accidentally removed it from her to-read shelf. (There I go again, looking for a positive explanation.) Either way, I just hope someone reads that particular copy someday!

So, are Goodreads Giveaways good or bad? I say good, but I am a glass-half-full kind of girl.

Based on my results, what do you think?