Book Reviews: The Good ~ The Bad ~ The Ugly

Written By: Jackie Weger - Dec• 12•15
Julie Whiteley

See Julie’s Reviews on Facebook

Julie Whiteley is a highly rated Goodreads and Amazon Reviewer with  one thousand + Reviews posted on Amazon and Goodreads in addition to her blog  She also reviews for NetGalley.  Here’s Julie with part Two of  her series on Book Reviews.

Hello, again, eNovel Authors. Here is part two of What Do Reviewers Want? I mentioned earlier that I’m  a blogger, reader and reviewer. This post concerns issues between authors and reviewers.

Like anything else we do, there is a downside to a good thing. With independent authors having to hit the pavement in order to get their books noticed, reviewers and authors are in direct contact. It can turn ugly.

Here is a recent Facebook comment:

“REVIEWS SUCK. All writers know this. Some pretend they love to get reviews. Pisses me off when reviewers think they are God. Grrr.”

Response from another author:

“Take heart. Not everyone is going to like your stuff but like XXX said, you are PUBLISHED and the reviewer isn’t.”

That author is so wrong. It is true that I am not a published author, however, many reviewers ARE published authors. Here is what I notice: Because

300+ Reviews. Not all are wonderful.

authors know every facet of producing a book they are often far more critical than a reviewer. Reviewers read first for pleasure and content. We often overlook small imperfections. Your colleagues seldom will. How often have you agreed to read a sister author’s book, done so, then hung your head, thinking: ‘Oh my God! What am I gonna say?’

Now I sometimes think: I feel more like an enemy. It is also true that I’ve posted more than one thousand reviews.

Some authors who ask me for a review do not give a fig if  I read the book. She just wants me to slap a five star on it and be done with it. Excuse me? If you don’t care any more about your work than that, don’t waste my time. Yes, I get rude emails, flavored like this:

“I haven’t heard back from you bitch. Don’t you know the world revolves around me?”

Whoa! As an aside, one of the reasons I was delighted by an invitation to eNovel Authors at Work is Jackie Weger’s mantra: It is all about THE BOOK. Keep in mind that when  I or any reviewer settles in to read your book, say in a dentist’s office or stuck in traffic, we don’t take author ego out of our purse. We grab our Kindle.

Like most of you, my world revolves around my family. I’m remodeling my kitchen. I have animals—one of which is my husband. I like him as much as I do my cats and dogs. I have to feed him and pet him and do his laundry. It may take me some time to get to your book in my TBR pile. If I agreed to review it, I will. On my time—not yours. That is just the way it is.

500 + Organic Reviews on Amazon, captured by the gentle plea after THE END

500 + Organic Reviews on Amazon, captured by the gentle plea after THE END

This happens: Authors take offense if their books don’t get a four or a five star review. A three star rating is nothing to be ashamed of. Did you really think you were the next Harper Lee? Did you really just write a novel that comes anywhere close to To Kill a Mockingbird? When you write a novel of that caliber, I will give it a five star review.

You should be concerned with one and two star ratings IF the reviews speak to plot failures, grammar, punctuation and ill formatting. Authors ignore these kinds of ratings/reviews at the peril of their career. Yes, some reviewers are cruel and take things too far sometimes. You can’t please everyone. You need elephant hide to survive out there. I review your work. I am not mean spirited when I suggest something did not quite work for me. I don’t review your book to make you mad or hurt your feelings. The smart author will fix those problems. And once done, give a tip of the hat to the reviewer.

Even if the reviewer left a statement like, ‘This author is a big fat pig’, or if the reviewer made a major gaffe with facts—do not ask the reviewer to edit or remove the review. Never argue with a reviewer! My review belongs to me. It is my intellectual property. Don’t try to put words in my mouth or tell me what to write. Most reviewers don’t get paid one red cent. I don’t. I don’t get flowers or invited for coffee or boxes of chocolate. I do appreciate a thank you.

Above all, don’t complain about less than stellar reviews on Social Media. Don’t advertise it! If you complain about a review or a reviewer, I’m gonna go have a look. So will every other reviewer. Moreover, if you ask me to review your book, I will decline. So will other savvy reviewers. One author whose book I reviewed hit the best seller list. Soon after he wrote blog post thanking by name all of us who had reviewed his book.  That author can count on me and other reviewers to read and review every book he creates.

The very last thing you NEVER want to do is gather a bunch of friends to tick your unfavorable reviews as ‘unhelpful’ on Amazon. We notice. If you insist on a ‘tickfest’, tick your three, four and five star reviews as ‘helpful’. Otherwise, leave your reviews alone. They don’t belong to you.

You are the author. Yes, you will one day read a review that makes you see red. Rant if you must, but DO SO IN PRIVATE. Here is Jackie’s suggestion for reviews. I concur: Put this gentle plea right after THE END in you books.

Thank you for taking the time to read [title]. If you enjoyed it, please consider telling your friends or posting a short review. Word of mouth is an author’s best friend and much appreciated. Thank you. [author name].

What do you think? Any questions?

For a complete list of above 200 active reviewers visit The Indie View

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Would love it if you followed me on Bookbub & you will never miss a FREE or discounted book. Just tick my photo to get there. Blessings.

Posted by Jackie Weger, Founder, eNovel Authors at Work.

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  1. Jackie Weger says:

    Julie: Wow. When you said Ugly–you meant it. Great article.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      I just found this on Amazon. Remember I’ve been saying readers are getting savvy? Read on. I lifted this verbatim from a reviewer who gave a title 2*s and said exactly why:
      “Because my time is valuable and I work quite a bit for the extras I have, I try to wisely choose how I spend both my time and money. I felt duped by the excellent reviews and went back to the ratings to see what else the reviewers had commented on. I was not that surprised to see that several had only reviewed BOTH of the author’s books and nothing else–ever. Hmmm. That is what I call stuffing the ballot box’! Very disappointing!”
      This Amazon reviewer gave a chilling review in detail on the title. It killed the book’s sales. I discovered the author in a forum scrambling to find an editor to fix the book. Good luck. Those first reviews on your book have got to be from legitimate reviewers lest your early 5* reviews be suspect.

  2. Ju Ephraime says:

    Hey Julie: You’ve reviewed quite a few of my books, and I’ve always been VERY appreciative. I’m sorry about the ‘bad’ and the ‘ugly’. I know I could not be a professional reviewer. It reminds me too much of the hundreds of school books I was forced to read to get through school.

    Hats off to you! 😉


    • Ju,

      OK, sometimes it is like homework. There is pressure and at times I have to take a step back. But, mostly it’s fun. I love reading your books! It was great hearing from you!

  3. Wendy Ewurum says:

    Hi Julie and Jackie…
    I am sure this article is painful for many readers but it is God honest truth.
    I have had some unappreciative comments about reviews but thankfully nothing ugly and to even avoid the ugly I decided at some point to only read books that are to my liking.

    I know it’s probably cowardly but after seeing how ungly an author’s response can be from other reviewers who have suffered, I decided I won’t review anything that warrants less than a 3 star rating.
    Because you are right, we only do this for pleasure and for free. I dont need all the drama.

    Thank you Julie, this was a really great article. I will reblog if Jackie doesn’t mind.

  4. Donna Fasano says:

    Unprofessional behavior is never a good thing for anyone. Julie, authors need reviewers like you. I hope you continue to do what you do despite “the bad” and “the ugly.”

  5. sue ward says:

    OMG I soooo agree with you, I have had some terrible hits on my as a reviewer.

    For all the books I have read, I can count about 10 who has actually taken the time to thank me.

    Its true, you can’t like every book you read, and my 3 star ratings are fine. If an author asks me to read and review their book HONESTLY that is what I do, not disrespectfully, honestly and I am never directly horrible. I have been stalked by 2 authors because they wanted more from me and wanted my reviews to be taken down as 3 stars wasn’t good enough. It got ugly.

    Like you said, do not undermine my intelligence, I do have a freedom of will.

    • Authors behaving badly!! People will not want to review books at all if this type of thing is allowed to get out of hand. I won’t take my review down or change it. If I made a major mistake in the facts or something along those lines, then yes, it needs to be corrected. Otherwise, it stands. I don’t bash authors personally. If the book is a 3 in my opinion, that’s what it gets. I hate to hear about these types of experiences. Thanks for posting a comment!

  6. M. B. Feeney says:

    I am both a published author and a reviewer. I would be lying if I said I don’t care about reviews. All authors like reviews, it shows our hard work and time is appreciated… but, I am not the kind of author who demands 4 or 5* reviews.

    As someone with a review blog of my own, I am always honest in my thoughts, but never brutal. I pride myself on being as constructive as possible and stating the facts (as I see them).

    I would NEVER ask a reviewer to alter their review as I would refuse to do it to my own. A review is an opinion that only that person can hold. Like the quote says: “No two persons ever read the same book.”

  7. Mary Smith says:

    Excellent post. It really is unbelievable how some authors react if not given the five stars to which they believe their book is entitled. I admire you for continuing to review despite the ugly.

    • Mary,
      Thankfully, the ‘Ugly’ only happens once in awhile. When I did this article I had begun to notice a LOT of whining on social media sites I thought it was bad form, unprofessional, and I felt like it needed to be addressed. I had begun to feel like authors hated me and I never wanted that to happen- ever. It was a bad patch for me, but I think some good came out of it. Thanks for posting a comment!!

  8. Rich Meyer says:

    I’ve always said, and pissed a lot of folks off by doing so, that most books are 3-star books at the most. The 5- and 1-stars are few and far between.

    To me, a five-star book should pretty much have a major effect on your life, while a one-star should make you want to poke the author with a fork.

    Unfortunately, the way we are forced to rate books on various websites doesn’t take personal acclimations into account, and we have to warp our ratings a little (or considerably) to adjust to them. That’s just the current rules of the game.

    And just try to explain to an author why their book has a star less on GR than it does on Amazon… that is, if you want an argument that includes a bit o’ lifelong scorn from most of them.

    I read ’em and I call ’em like I see ’em. End of line.

    • You took the words right out of my mouth! Great comment. Thanks for weighing in!

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Rich Meyer! One of the reasons I am so happy you are in eNovel Authors at Work is that you tell it like it is! Hey! I think I’ve been poked by a fork at least once. Laffin’. You are right about personal feelings, though. I’ve made three attempts to get caught up in a book that has above 1000 really nice reviews. It’s my kind of book–but so far I can’t get into it.
      Who knows. The next time I’m crabbing down on Caney Creek waiting for a nibble, the book might just hit me right and I’ll enjoy it.
      Jackie Weger

  9. Jackie Weger says:

    Wow! This article really stirred up the hornet’s nest. It is so timely. I appreciate my reviews whatever rating they may pull. My books pull one star and five star and stars in between. My first three star review from Big Al’s Books and Pals sent me over the moon! To me a three star puts a book on podium. Every book I write will not earn a five stars across the board. It can’t. I see three star reviews all the time on Amazon and the reviewer recommends the book. I often buy them. Readers do, too. I think they trust those three and four star reviews.

  10. Never get into a p*ssing match with a reviewer or author on social media. No one wins. ) I read and review a lot of books in addition to writing and asking for people to review my work. Bad, or negative reviews are gonna happen. I don’t like them. I get my feelings hurt, yes. But, when there are several reviewers saying the same thing that didn’t work for them about my book, I can’t help but pay attention and take another look.

    The reviews that hurt are the ones who take it personally… Attacking me… The author writes like a third grader. The author should have warned me it wasn’t a happy ever after, the author’s chapters were too short. The author negatively reviewed my book, so back atcha. 🙁

    You get the gist. I take all reviews seriously. I just happen to like some better than others. 🙂

    Thanks for the post!

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Lori L. Clark: You said: “When there are several reviewers saying the same thing that didn’t work for them about my book, I can’t help but pay attention and take another look.”
      I say: You are one SMART author! When I discovered a single 3 star review mentioning just a few errors and minor formatting glitches, I sent the review and the ms to my editor and formatter. Together we got the ebook pristine. Which does not mean every reader/reviewer will adore the book, but my faulty errors won’t get in the way of the story. IMO if we paid more attention to our one and two star reviews we would all be better writers.

      • Sue Ward says:

        Jackie, I’ve said the same thing! I may make a comment as to what didn’t work for me. If others say the same thing, maybe take it on board…..if its only me, then that’s fine, I’m just a drop in the ocean. Its the majority rules 🙂

    • Lori,
      Some people are not professional in their reviews. It’s supposed to be about critical thinking, but again, what turned one person off, might be the perfect fit for me. However, I love that you have the ability to put it into perspective. If a reviewer is doing their job right, any critique should be for the author’s benefit. I just want you to know what worked and what didn’t. I’m not an author so I have a lot to learn about that process. I read for pure entertainment. As for typos and such, I read so many ARC copies that doesn’t even phase me, unless someone if buying what should be a finished product and it still has issues. This gives you the chance to tighten it up for those who are anal about that sort of thing. LOL!

  11. Whew! I was worried about this article. I had what I call my “Field of Dreams” moment when Ray wanted to know “What’s in it for me?”. I was going through a burn out period when this article was written and I had a few authors really get out of line making me wonder why I was working 5 or 6 hours a day for free. I got it off my chest and felt much better. The review system is terrible right now. One book club site has a ratings system that makes no sense. It’s different from everyone else’s and yes I have gotten that question about why was the rating different on GR than on Amazon. I don’t know the solution to the problems, but I do know that respect and professionalism works both ways. The reviewer needs to respect the author and be professional with the review. Review the book, not the author and the author needs to do respect the reviewer and behave professionally even if the review was disappointing. I applaud the authors for being able to take the criticism. Me? I would probably crawl up in a fetal position and suck my thumb. LOL!

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Julie! Not only are you funny, your article is timely and you tell it like it is. We need to be reminded that reviewers are just as human as we are. And Reviewers work for authors for FREE! You are putting in not less than 42 hours a week, no pay and few thank you(s). When I read my reviews, I put on my alligator skin and suck it up. But, if I had to tolerate what reviewers seem to, I know where I’d stick my thumb–and it would not be in mouth.

  12. Hi, Julie!

    First, this was a great article…and a topic I’ve wanted to address. Why? Because I’ve gotten myself into a few “pickles” with other authors that expected me not only to read whatever they write, but also “rubber-stamp” their stories with five stars. Sorry, but I’m too honest for that! I’ve totally revised novels based on reviews or feedback from beta readers that I believed had credence. In my opinion, five-star ratings should be “rare.” Bogus reviews give indie authors a bad rep…

    I’m thankful to everyone who has taken the time to read and review my books. To those readers that gave me five stars–well, all I can say is, I wish I felt more deserving.

    • Linda,
      You are right. Authors give me the impression they want me to lie and say the book deserved 10 stars! What some people never think about is the reviewers reputation. If I’m not honest then people won’t trust my opinion anymore. Five star reviews should be reserved for the very special book that comes along once in awhile. So many five star reviews are corrupting the system and readers are becoming more and more suspect. People caught on a while back that the system is being manipulated. If they can’t trust the reviewer, how will they ever make an informed decision? That is the whole point of writing a review.

      • Sue Ward says:

        Oh Julie, you sound like my double! I have been saying this for ages. I run a facebook promote group with a friend and authors, I have always maintained, a book has to be so outstanding to gain a 5 star. I feel guilty if I give a 3 star…I click it and run …..> how sad is that! The review itself is really good, praising the things that are done well [in MHO] and I say what didn’t actually work for me, maybe it just didn’t grip me in the beginning or towards the end it was slow…ya get my meaning? that is not a reflection personally on the author saying I don’t like him or her!!!! I’d rather give reviews like I did in the past……..not knowing the author in some ways. !!! But yes, I agree, as a reviewer/reader, MY reputation is at stake if I don’t say what I think…….so you have given me the strength to be more stronger, not in my review, but sticking to my guns and not budging. Jackie, you know I am not harsh….but I have felt many a time like just packing it all in. Also, my books tend to pile up on me and I don’t even ask for them :O so patience is another thing. I have had this chat with my fellow buddy who also runs the group with me,and although she says “you can’t put that, they won’t let you read for them again”, well, Its not the review, the review write up is good, its the stars of 3 she is referring to. Well, yes, I can put that. Can’t I. I’ve enjoyed reading all of this as its not easy being an author, I would never be one, its hard if you are sensitive. Its like the X factor I guess with Simon Cowell!!! but the other side is that reviewers are human too.

  13. Joanne Hill says:

    Great post, Julie.
    I recall years ago a writer friend once in tears over a one star review from RT – I was thinking “but at least you got the call and got published, your editor loved it, this is one person, some of us are still waiting for that darned call!” – but to her it was the end of the world, understandably. It was a terrible way to start off her career – but I still gritted my teeth, thinking, “Be grateful you sold!”

    • I hate one star reviews too. It does hurt and that’s why it’s so hard for me to leave a one star review. But, you are right.. it could only get better from that point on. We focus on the one negative thing when there are so many more positive things to be thankful for. You make a good point!

  14. Excellent article, Julie, and very wise! I loved “when I or any reviewer settles in to read your book, say in a dentist’s office or stuck in traffic, we don’t take author ego out of our purse. We grab our Kindle.” Every author needs to remember that! 🙂

    • Lorrie,
      Thanks for leaving a comment! I’m looking forward to getting to know you a little better. I have one of your books in my top ten right now, so hopefully, there will be a review up within the next couple of weeks. Take care!

  15. BigAl says:

    Wonderful post, Julie. I could ramble forever in response, but will try and keep my comments at least shorter than your post. 🙂

    On the issue of the author being published and the reviewer not – That depends on your definition of published. 🙂 I’ve been doing reviews of one kind or another for 10+ years and have long joked that “those who can do, those who can’t review.” (Yes, I stole most of that.) Your point, that authors (when they’re honest) are going to be the toughest reviewers, seeing things that wouldn’t trip up a normal reader at all. But ultimately a review is one person’s opinion. That person doesn’t have to be capable of doing better or even as well as you to spot when something has gone astray. Tiger Woods has people who coach him and I guarantee he’s the better golfer.

    The lower star reviews (1, 2 and many 3 star reviews) are, IMO, what is going to sell or not sell your book with many readers. This reviewer gave a bad review for too much profanity and explicit sex? That sounds perfect to me. But as you say, they need to pay attention to what those reviews say, because if there are serious issues in their books, that is where they’ll show up and that reader/reviewer isn’t the only one who saw those problems.

    As for complaining authors, I think I’ve been lucky. I’ve had a few, one quite infamous, but those authors seem to be the exceptions. And yes, the passive aggressive act of gang voting a review down is one I notice and file away in the back of my mind.

    • Thanks for weighing in, Al. I appreciate your comments. You are absolutely right! I would like to remind reviewers to think critically. Just because you are put off by violence doesn’t mean someone else will be. I happened to like dark thrillers, but some people can’t take the graphic violence. So, I mention that maybe this book isn’t for everyone, but it does not change my opinion of the book. I just want to let people know so they can make an informed decision. Authors can’t control that sort of thing in a review, but take heart, I learn more about the book from those reviews than a fake five star review. If a reviewer gave a book two or three stars because of the graphic violence, I might decide to check it out, because graphic violence doesn’t phase me. So, Al makes a great point. Just let it be.
      Again, I am only trying to help the author. I am your biggest cheerleader! Trust me, authors are my rock stars! I want you to succeed!!!

  16. As an author, I am so grateful to those of you who take the time to read and to leave a review for my books. I have read that it is in poor form and just asking for trouble, to respond to a reviewer who leaves a low star review, but I’m wondering if it would be considered just polite to say thank you for those who leave higher star ones? Or would this be open to being misconstrued as “sucking up”, rather than heartfelt? Personally, I think that it would probably depend on the wording… I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, Julie, and would also like to hear opinions from those of you who review regularly.

    • Dianne,
      Each author is different. One of my favorite indie authors can’t bear to read reviews. Her husband reads them to her anyway. LOL! She does not respond one way or another to a reviewer. Her reasons make good sense to me. There are pros and cons to getting too cozy with a reviewer. But, if the author personally contacts a reviewer and ask them to read their book, then yes, I think a simple “Thank you for your time” would be nice. That way I know you saw the review. I worry if I don’t hear something from an author at all. Getting back in touch with me after the book is read and reviewed can also lead me to offer other services, such as interviews, spotlights and other things on my blog post.
      If the review came from someone you didn’t contact personally, “liking” the review on GR and Amazon is good. It helps you and the reviewer. That is just my opinion.

  17. melindaclayton says:

    Wonderful information, Julie. Thank you! Sharing so others can learn from it.

  18. ?wazithinkin says:

    Excellent post, Ms. Whiteley. I agree with everything you said and I am not sure I can add anything that hasn’t already been covered. Except perhaps, my reviews are only my opinion as a reader and that is all it is.

    However, I do believe authors need to be careful about badgering reviewers for a review, they may not get exactly what they wished for. 🙂

    • LOL! That’s true! Mostly I just get badgered to hurry up and get the review done. Four emails in one day by the same author one time. I can’t read if I’ m answering emails! LOL

    • Jackie Weger says:

      I happen to adore ?wazithinin! Yes I do. She is one of Big Al’s Books and Pals top reviewers. She reviewed all three of my indie books. I was so happy with her reviews I had a leg over the moon.

      You can find all of ?wazithinkin’s reviews Here:
      Books and Pals

      • Jackie Weger says:

        I forgot to mention that on another of Big Al’s sites he posts a list of 340 + reviewers and their links. Fingertip walking!To find a reviewer for your books. Kudos to Big Al for putting the list together. Now authors, you don’t have to run all over FB begging for reviews. Start Here:
        The Indie View

  19. Wow! what a reaction. Julie you wrote ” what turned one person off, might be the perfect fit for me. ” and when i haven’t enjoyed a book I try hard to stress that point, that we’re all individials, that we want different things. Personally the word “Christian” in the description is a big turn off for me, not because i’m anti religon but based on experience i know it won’t be a book I’ll enjoy. I@ve reveiwed just over 500 since starting my blog last march, and i read alot. I love to read, reviewing allows me to indulge my hobby and I take seriously what i do. I try to choose those i think i’ll enjoy but there have been the odd two stars creep in – one yestreday in fact – where the book simply hasn’t been what i expected and enjoy. I’ll try to write why is didn’t work for me, not a book attack, but what did/didn’t work as that may be exactly what someone else wants. I also say its a Personal view. If i gave all books 4 and 5 stars they’d become meaniless, and five stars are saved for the very best of the best For ME, though could be a two star for someone else. I’ve bought books rated two stars, after a while one can read mostly what reviewers mean and assess whether its something likely to put me off.
    I’ve had very few complaints, one recently where i’d misnamed a chater. used another characters name instead. My error, i’m so busy checking for mispellings ( i have the look at keyboard not screen style of typing…) that i’d missed it. Changed it and apologised. It happnes, no one is perfect.
    I wish there were a greater range, ten stars would be so much easier so i use half stars. Three stars isn’t a failure as many authors seem to think, its progbably correct for the majority of books. Sometimes its a really good story but just not one I really got into – ok ish so that wpuld be a three star but with commenst expalining that its three star for me but may be four or five for others….
    Fianlly, I love books, I love to read, get most from Netgalley,on/around publication date add all my reviews to amazon com and uk, goodreads and B&N as well as my blog. I see that as uphoilding my end, but to keep readers reading my reviews they have to be honest, have to uphold my integrity and inevitably there’ll be some where i’ve chosen badly and haven’t liked them. Usually thats pre pubication ones where a sample isn’t available – that amazon sample is a huge help to choosing whether a story is going to work for me or not. I keep my stars across the board though the half stars go up to full on amazon and usuallyu down to full star on B&N, sometimes goodreads. Its very subjective and only 5 chices is restrictive.
    finally…sorry for any errors, its monday morning, i’m typing direct to post not in a doc i can spell check etc… 🙂 have a grat day everyone.

    • LOL!! I have decided to rename a character twice! I don’t know why, but sometimes a character will remind me someone I know and from then on that name is stuck in my head. Both authors were very good sports about it and I went in and edited the review of course. But, it’s good to know that I am not the only one that has done that.

  20. Rene D. Schultz says:

    What a great post! As an author, you must develop patience and a thick skin to be able to put your books out into the public. It took a big shove to get me out there. Thankfully, my experiences were made easy by two ‘honest’ reviewer, who I had tremendous respect for and I knew that they would give me an honest opinion. Honest reviews become a big ‘learning lesson.’ Not everything you write is going to be liked by everyone. But the reviewers deserve respect, as you pointed out… you don’t get paid, and it does take away from your private time. I appreciate your time… and respect your reviews, and I also know there are a varience of reviewers that grade differently. That’s where the readers come in and justify the reviews! Thanks again, for a stellar post! Rene

    • Thanks for leaving a comment. Everyone has an opinion and we are different. So, you will get a few that felt your book wasn’t for them. But, you know, so do the household name authors like Grisham or Patterson. Everyone gets a negative review from time to time. It’s just part of the deal. Still, reviewers need to remember to critique the book and not the author. Be professional at all times!

      • Rene D. Schultz says:

        Thanks Whiteley…
        Another thing that becomes an interesting factor in all this, is the unbelievable advancement of technology… Authors are able to reach out to readers all over the world. Attracting readers from all different types of cultures. I heard interesting stories from authors who had readers leave reviews from places they never even heard of and also from cultures who think differently in their core values and fundamentals. I never thought in my lifetime I would see my book in South Africa, Japan or Brazil… I was just thrilled with Borders and Barnes&Noble ten years ago! But with that it opens a different ‘point of view’ for anyone reviewing your book.
        Every profession or business is faced with the same thing… The movie industry is the same. Go to a movie with three good friends and each one has their opinion…

  21. I am a writer, mainly, but also review books that I read; but I only seem to find really great books! If I find something I really don’t like, because I usually know the author, I will tell them privately that I couldn’t get on with it and point out a few editorial things that I would have suggested if I were editing (did I say I’m also and editor?). One writer I know is simply not to my taste although I have tried, desperately to like his stories. He tells me other people think they are brilliant (or at least very good). All I can think is that readers look at things with a different eye to a writer. I don’t believe my books are perfect yet the only reviews I’ve had are 4 or 5 star. I would love someone to point our flaws in my stories. I wouldn’t get in a strop, I would consider them and see if I thought the points were valid or not. Maybe they are. Maybe the reader and I are simply not on the same wavelength.

  22. Kristen,
    I also have a lot of luck with my books. I do not read many five star books though. For me 4 is the new 5. So, if you get a five star rating from me, your book was stellar for it’s genre. Yes, I do leave a 2 star rating from time to time but usually skip one star reviews unless it is a book written by a seasoned author that should know better. For me reviews are intended to inform other readers. I simply tell people what my experience with the book was. I am not an author so I seldom go into issues other authors might point out to you. I want readers to make an informed choice about a book and I hope they read ALL reviews before making a decision. I personally can’t stand it when reviewers complain about content. Read the blurb and reviews before you buy the book. Usually you get an idea about sexual content or graphic violence from that. Therefore, if you buy the book and it’s loaded with sex and violence then that’s on you. But, that’s just my opinion.
    I also know that I’ve completely missed what the author hoped the reader would take away from the book. I found an entirely different meaning in it. So, yes, the reader is not privy to your inner thoughts and sometimes we just don’t get it. LOL!

  23. Great article! I agree with this SO HARD. =)
    It is sad that many of the reviewers are starting to going towards only giving positive reviews. That is certainly not why I started my site and will stand my opinions 100%. Even if it is a negative review. Thanks for your thoughts!

  24. Susan Tarr says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I love receiving reviews, and I sit on the edge of my chair waiting for one to come through. I take to heart each and every word written, and grow as an author from them. If I am checking out another author’s reviews, I tend to skim through the 5 stars and look for the lesser marks. To me those are the ones worth reading; the honest reviews. Smiles from New Zealand…

  25. Jackie Weger says:

    Sally Ember: Teach me how to link reviews via my blog. That is such a neat idea and a wonderful thank you to the blogger, especially if an author submitted the book for a review. We encourage authors everywhere to comment and thank the reviewer in the comment section on the host blog. However, some of our authors have reviews in the hundreds from strangers, readers, fans, thus is is impossible to thank every reader/reviewer personally. Our Resident Reviewer, Julie Whiteley keeps us up on Author/Reviewer protocol, thank goodness.

    Jackie Weger

  26. Mike Markel says:


    I’ve learned a lot from your post, Julie, as well as from the many helpful replies.

    We should all appreciate the efforts of reviewers, most of whom are volunteering. In the old world of legacy publishing, paid reviewers earned their living from the advertising dollars of the publishers in their newspapers. Now, writers write–mostly for free or close to free–and reviewers review for free.

    Even though I am sometimes frustrated with a reviewer who seems not to have taken the job seriously, I am always amazed that anyone has taken the time to read one of my novels and try to say something meaningful about them. Thanks to you and to all reviewers.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      I get your frustration Mike: You mention legacy publishing and reviewers for newspapers. Think NYT Book Review and Publisher’s Weekly. Those guys were professionals AND their reviews were subject to editorial input, copy editors and proofreaders. Few, if any at all, of our ebook blogger/reviewers have that kind of experience. Most began blogs and reviewing because they were avid readers. Many blog sites have become so popular the reviewers are overwhelmed with requests. In the recent past a pair of reviewers gave my titles five star reviews. Loved the books, got the story right and in both instances got the character’s name wrong. I didn’t say squat about that and did not ask them to make corrections. Their enthusiasm was wonderful. The first 5 to 10 reviews on my titles are usually from reviewers I have a relationship with. After those reviews are posted, I do a free or paid promotion and the remainder of the reviews are from strangers. Until I published my titles in ebook format, not a single one had been reviewed. It’s a new cyberworld phenomena.

      Jackie Weger

  27. Jenny Harper says:

    Gosh, what a minefield. Authors love to be loved, but reviewers deserve respect! Thanks for this article – and the insights.

  28. […] to Amazon and Goodreads TOP 1000 reviewer, Julie Whiteley. Julie also reviews for NetGalley and is eNovel Authors at Work Resident Reviewer. Another Amazon TOP 1000 Reviewer on Amazon US and Amazon UK is Jeannie […]

  29. […] more on Reviews by a TOP 1000 Amazon and Goodreads Reviewer, Julie Whiteley, go Here. Read about the Good, the Bad & the […]

  30. […] to tick your four and five star reviews as helpful. That is acceptable. Go here to read the Good, the Bad and the Ugly on reviews by a top rated Goodreads and Amazon reviewer. Comments from readers, authors and […]

  31. […] this:  It ain’t about YOU. It is about your BOOK. Julie Whiteley, a TOP 1000 Amazon and Goodreads reviewer made this observation about author egos: “When […]

  32. […] reviewer, Julie Whiteley to be an associate member and give us tips. Julie’s insightful blogs on eNovel are the most popular we have produced. Julie clued us in on how important a book […]

  33. Thanks for re-posting this. I actually thought about this article the other day when an author told me he firmly believed people signed up to review books in order to get free books, but then never intended to write the review. In an author’s shoes I could see how that is monumentally frustrating. In fact, it may even feel like stealing. But, I would like to remind you of a few things, if I may.
    First of all, I know all of you are well aware of the promotional sites out there. Each day, seven days a week, free books are featured on these sites. If all I wanted was a free book, I would simply subscribe to a handful of these sites and be done with it. No work required. Also, there is Kindle Unlimited, Kindle Prime and Kindle First. There are blog tours galore offering books for review. There is always your local library as well. In other words there are much easier ways of obtaining a free book. Most reviewers have the very best of intentions. They don’t obtain a copy of your book, then deliberately blow you off. Some are lazy, some forget, some put it off, some have too much on their plates and are overwhelmed and sometimes a major life event or issue has come up, So, please do not assume the worse, and accuse these folks of being unethical, if not downright dishonest. What to do? If you need a review ASAP in hopes of getting onto a promo site that requires a set number of reviews, then make sure you let the reviewer know this, firmly. If they can’t commit to having the review posted by a certain date, then it’s up to you if you want to pass. If time is not really all that important, let a month, or even two, pass. If you don’t hear back from them, send a follow up email and see what is going on with that person. Don’t harass the reviewer. An occasional follow up email is fine, but more than that is redundant. Some will, some won’t. Maybe 2 out 10 at best. But, it never hurts to keep a list of reviewers that did review and posted in a timely manner. From that list you will know who is reliable and you will want to contact them again in the future. The one on one relationship with your reviewer is a delicate one, so tread lightly. Build good solid contacts and most of all be patient!!! For those who are putting your books on the KDP free days, and are getting lots of downloads, but reviews are slow to come in, again, be patient. People read at different paces. Plus, I never have in my entire life, bought one book, read it, then bought another book. I buy a handful, read one or two, buy ten more. LOL! So, people do have lots of books to choose from and they may only read one book a month. So, give these people time. Authors think readers should buy a book, start reading it that day, finish it the next , and then write a review immediately. Sorry, but that’s not how it works. Those reviews will come in time, so hang in there!! Have a great weekend everyone!

  34. Sandra says:


    Thank you for a great post. I agree with most of your points. I can’t believe people ask individuals to buy their book when they ask for a review. I DO buy most of the books I review, but the authors haven’t asked for a review, I just want to post one. If they ASK, yeah, I’d expect a free copy, too. Sheesh, people are strange.

    I am an author not a reviewer although I do review books when I like them. That is the only point I have an issue with in your post. I guess I’m one of those people who try to live by that darned saying we learned growing up, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

    I won’t post a review if I can’t give the book a 4 or 5. Why? Mainly because if it isn’t that good, I’m not going to finish it. If I can’t finish it, I shouldn’t review it. Like you said, we all have lives outside of reading (and writing). I don’t have time to read books I’m not enjoying. At the same time, I also don’t want to bash someone whose work I don’t like because someone else may and I don’t want my opinion to ruin that possibility and unfortunately, 1 and 2 star reviews can do that.

    I’ve had a one star review. The reviewer made a point and I went into the book and corrected the issue she had because it was valid, though no one else brought it up. Personally, I would have preferred she sent me a personal email (my email is listed in my books) and pointed it out. I would have gladly fixed the gaff and probably sent her my next book for free. However, the bashing job she did along with pointing out the mistake didn’t put me in a giving mood. Should I have thanked her for pointing out the error, probably.Could she have done it in a better way? Definitely.

    Unfortunately, the internet makes it easy for people to say things in ways they never would to your face. That’s why I try very hard NOT to say negative things in reviews and only post reviews for books I really enjoy. If I find an author has a lot of errors in their book, I send them a private email or FB message rather than post it for the world to see. I would rather support other writers, and in that way readers, than tear anyone down.

    Thanks for a great post.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Sandra: Thank you for commenting. You are to be commended in how you handle book reviews for indie authors. As you say, you are an author, not a reviewer. When you read a book and find errors and let the author know, you are acting as a beta reader or proof reader. Nice. However, Julie Whiteley is a Top 1000 Amazon and Goodreads Reviewer. She also reviews for NetGalley. That is what she does. Thus, she cannot be selective in which reviews to post or not lest her credibility be questioned. Reviews belong to the reader and are for the reading public, NOT the author. You did a very smart thing by repairing your book when a reviewer mentioned the need. Many indie authors do not make those repairs. eNovel authors have editors and proof readers for our books…and readers still catch errors we missed! We repair them. We are so fortunate that with digital, we can. I love it.
      Good luck with your books. Wishing you many sales.
      Jackie Weger
      No Perfect Destiny

  35. […] more: The Good, Bad and the Ugly. But I’ll save it for next time. Jackie has invited me to eNovel Authors at Work and I’m glad to […]

  36. […] on the blog to submit your book for review.  For the best ehow on approaching a reviewer read THIS article  by a TOP 1000 Amazon, Goodreads and Net Galley reviewer, Julie […]

  37. […] to tick your four and five star reviews as helpful. That is acceptable. Go here to read the Good, the Bad and the Ugly on reviews by a top rated Goodreads and Amazon reviewer. Comments from readers, authors and […]

  38. Oh Julie! I couldn’t agree more with all the points you made. I have the same attitude and get pretty worked up when a fellow author takes offense – and get this – not by a bad review, but simply by telling them I won’t review it as it didn’t make the 3-star minimum (I don’t review 1 and 2 star books as to remain supportive publicly). I have also lost a couple of friends for giving them honest feedback when the proofreading and the typos are for the dogs. Yes. Some authors don’t want to know, and they don’t care to be told what’s wrong with the books. You’re spot on. They don’t even care if we read the book – they cherish anyone who just slaps the five star mark on it even though they haven’t read a word or bothered to help them. To those, I say, keep walking to your peril… They’ll hit the proverbial brick wall sooner or later. I stopped exchanging reviews ages ago. I pick up a book I like the sound of but never guarantee a review to the author. It’s saved me from lots of hassle. You made me chuckle no end with the ‘have to pet him and feed him’ remark about your husband. Now I know I am not alone – LOL 😀

    • Effrosyni,

      When I wrote this article, I was frustrated beyond words and was still pretty new to the review game. I have noticed that authors still advertise review swaps from time to time, some still challenge reviews, and some still throw very public fits, but I think most are learning to accept online reviews with more grace. I’ve noticed that public comments disparaging reviewers have all but disappeared in social media, too. So, maybe we are seeing a shift in the tide. Thanks for commenting. I always enjoy your insights!

  39. Julia Hughes says:

    Morning Julie, and thank you for writing this post. I wanted you to know that for every author who imagines that they’ve just written a novel to rival TKAM, there’s ten thousand like me, who are content to make that magical connection, and who are so very grateful for reviewers of your calibre, and also very aware and extremely appreciative of the time you devote to composing and publishing reviews.

    Hands up, I started out as a hobby writer, and am thrilled to even have readers; reviews are the cherry on top. And of course positive reviews are the best, I hug them to myself.
    There’s a two star review on one of mine that makes me giggle whenever I think of it. In fact, I want it as my epitaph.

    There’s another two star review, (no names, no pack drill, as I agree, reviews are there strictly for other readers’ benefit) and frankly, I can’t help but admire this person’s fortitude. She read the first in series, but the second in series is in an entirely different genre, and she made no bones about her disappointment. But, dear of her, she went on to read the third, which returned to the original genre, and left a pretty sweet four star review.
    I’m astonished that she didn’t give up on me …

    To paraphrase, a story can only please some of the people some of the time – unless you really are the new Harper Lee and even that great lady has her (in my view, woefully mistaken,) critics!

    • Julia,
      You sound like a person who has the ability to keep it all in perspective. Sometimes series gets off to a slow start for me too, so I can relate. I try to read at least three books in a series before I decide to continue on with it, or not. Often times, the books I didn’t warm up to right away are the ones I end liking the most later on. Funny how that works. Good luck with all your endeavors and thanks for commenting!

  40. Julie, You have really made some valid points in this article. I can see how dedicated you are to your work as a reviewer. I too have pets and one of them is also my husband so I totally understand where you are coming from. Time is a valuable commodity. When a reader takes the time out of their busy schedule to read and review my work, it is an honor that I never take lightly. Thank you so much for this eye opening article.
    Many Blessings to you,

    • Roberta,
      I may take it too seriously sometimes, and I too have to step back and remind myself to keep it all in it’s proper place. I do spend a lot of time on the reviews and the blog, and on occasion I burn myself out, but mostly I enjoy it. When I wrote this article, I was not in the best place and had a slight chip on my shoulder, but things are improving, I think. I appreciate your kind words! Thanks for commenting!!

  41. EM Kaplan says:

    Great article! As an author, I have anxiety about leaving an honest review for another author’s book. If I post anything less than 4 stars, I’m putting myself at risk of receiving “retaliation reviews.” I’d rather decline requests for reviews than get caught up in that drama.

    With the shoe on the other foot, I read reviews on my books, but mostly to look for legitimate criticism and things to improve. With a grain of salt, always.

  42. Traci Hall says:

    Wow, this is a hot topic, lol! When I was first published, that was one thing my more experienced critique group taught me–don’t answer back to negative reviews. But sometimes it’s hard to let it go. Great advice

    • Traci,
      I know that writing reviews for books is a much more personal thing than writing reviews for appliances. The author takes their work personally and so it can suck if someone doesn’t like the story. I admit I would not be able to put myself out there like that. I have no advice on how to cope with that level of disappointment, but you are wise to avoid confrontation with the reviewer. It only makes things that much worse. Best of luck with your writing and keep your chin up. Look to positives and don’t dwell on the negatives. It will all come out in the wash, as they say. Thanks for commenting!!

  43. […] has that gentle review plea. Just keep in mind, we are not entitled to reviews. Read this terrific Blog by TOP 1000 Amazon Reviewer, Julie Whiteley. That is another Call to […]

  44. Yes, bad reviews can really suck when the person leaving them has ulterior motives. I have a few of those. Had a recent BookBub promo and someone left a 1 star berating the book. I checked out her author central page and she is also an author with 3 books; all with 1- 2 star reviews. Though upsetting, I left it alone. That is a difficult lesson to learn.

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