Monday, September 10, 2012

Importance of Reviews for the Reader and the Author

Sandra here to talk about online reviews of books.  Helen may have already made a pot of coffee, but I'm adding an urn of my favorite--chocolate velvet coffee.  There's also a variety of teas and a kettle of hot water.  And I have a buffet of Sees Candy.  So grab a cup and a sweet treat and lets talk reviews.

How many of you read the reviews before you buy a book online?

Do you read reviews to find out what type of book is featured?

Do reviews influence what you purchase?

Do you know how reviews influence sales?

There have been a lot of discussions lately about reviews.  And since I am now an Amazon author, I have been doing a lot of research on sales in the world of

By the way, maybe you haven't heard that I'm an Amazon author now.  PRICE OF VICTORY was published by Avalon Books.

This summer, Avalon Books were purchased by Amazon Publishing. Therefore, my new release, CURRENT OF LOVE will be released in December by Amazon Publishing.

This is very exciting news because CURRENT OF LOVE  and PRICE OF VICTORY will be an affordable paperback and an ebook.  However this involves a tremendous amount of change for me as an author.

Avalon Books specialized in hard cover books prepared for libraries.  Libraries loved Avalon Books because they were guaranteed "clean" reads which means no violence or explicit sex.  And they were pretty much marketed by the publisher.  I didn't have to do much marketing which was a blessing when I was so involved in elder care.

But with Amazon, we're talking a new ball game.

Marketing is a MUST.

And it doesn't look like Amazon is going to feature our books in an imprint of "clean reads" so I as an author of "clean reads" will need to brand myself so that a buyer will know that is what kind of read they are getting.

This brings me in a roundabout way back to REVIEWS. is changing the world of publishing.  This is a known fact.

How is it changing and how do we capitalize on the change?

Amazon sells books online. Buyers pretty much have to know what they are looking for before they go into  It isn't like stepping into a bookstore and browsing down the aisles.  Amazon knows this so they have developed a system for e-browsing.

When you purchase a book on Amazon a banner pops up stating that others who have purchased this book also purchased........      Images of five or six books pop up.

If you click on any of these books, they provide sample pages and/or chapters to read.

They provide a blurb about the books

And there are REVIEWS.

Did you know that reviews generate the pop-ups in the banner?  The more reviews a book has, the more likely it is to pop up in the banner.

This is why it is extremely important to write reviews for the authors you like.  This will help get the word out that this author is worth reading and supporting.

Another method Amazon uses is the Amazon Prime.  Amazon picks a book to download on Kindle free for a month.  If your book is selected you may pick up thousands of readers. Amazon Prime books are selected by the amount of great reviews the book receives.

BTW publishers are starting to use this technique as well.  Remember when Pam Hillman's ebook STEALING JAKE came out?  Tyndale offered it free to attract a readership for their books and for Pam.  When I pulled it up on Amazon to get the URL for this post, it was listed as an Amazon Prime book.  And if you'll notice, Pam has over 80 reviews.  Good going girlfriend.

Another Seeker who knows the importance of reviews is Julie.  Julie asks her readers to post reviews. In her newsletter, she offers incentives to post a review.  The person who posts the most reviews gets their name used as the main character in her next novel.  How fun is that?  The winner of one of her contests posted 319 reviews.   Check out Julie's website to get signed up for her newsletter.

Julie's latest release is A LOVE SURRENDERED.  Please note that all of Julie's reviewers are people who actually read her books and are wanting to tell the world what great books they are.

This isn't always the case.

Reviews are so important that some authors pay for reviews.  This is causing quite a stir in the publishing world as well as the Amazon world.  Check out the articles Tina posted in the September 1 Weekend Edition.

How to Read Amazon Review Graphs.

New York Times article  The Best Reviews Money Can Buy    In this article, read the comments.  They are as interesting and eye opening as the article.

One of the commenters said that paid reviews weren't any different than paid advertising.  This is true in a sense, however the consumer knows they are viewing a paid advertisement and don't know they are reading a paid review or an authentic one.

In another article Mark Billingham and Stuart MacBride – who were targeted by Ellory – said that with the advent of the internet, honest comment had never been more important.

“These days more and more books are bought, sold, and recommended online, and the health of this exciting new ecosystem depends entirely on free and honest conversation among readers,” they wrote.
“But some writers are misusing these new channels in ways that are fraudulent and damaging to publishing at large.
“Few in publishing believe they are unique. It is likely that other authors are pursuing these underhand tactics as well.”
They added: 
“But the only lasting solution is for readers to take possession of the process. The internet belongs to us all.
“Your honest and heartfelt reviews, good or bad, enthusiastic or disapproving, can drown out the phoney voices, and the underhanded tactics will be marginalised to the point of irrelevance.”

This is becoming such a controversy that Amazon is taking steps to counter the use of false or paid reviews.  Amazon also has a new feature.  When you buy a book on Amazon, they give you a week or two depending upon the type of book you purchased and then they send you an email asking you to review the book you purchased.  This way they know that you as the reader/purchaser of that book are an authentic reviewer.

So let's discuss reviews.  How much do they influence you as a reader?

How much do you care about your favorite authors?

Do you want their publisher to produce more of their books?

Will YOU write a review?

Some of you might not write a review because you think it is difficult to write a review.  Those of you who have written reviews please step up and tell us how easy peasy it is.  I write reviews all of the time.

I do it to support the authors I really like.

I do it to support my friends.

I do it to support the business I am in which is published romance novels.


First you need to read the book.  Duh

Look up the book on or Barnes and or  These are the three places I write reviews.  There are other sites.  Hopefully some of you can mention them in the comments.  Harlequin has a way to like their books on Facebook.  When I write reviews, I copy what I wrote on the first review and then paste the same comment in all of the other sites.  This saves time.

When you find the book you want on, and most of the other sites, you will see a link that says  write a review.   Click on the link and follow the directions.  Some sites won't let you review unless you have purchased books from them.  

You do not need to write out a book report of the whole story.  A paragraph telling what you liked about the story or the book is all you need.  You can say you liked the historical aspects, the setting, the characters, etc.

This is common etiquette.  You don't want to ruin the story for others.  

Then click on submit and you have written a review.

So have I convinced you of the need to write reviews?

Many of you have won books from Seekers and our guests.  Perhaps you can return the favor and write a review.  This will help show your support of the authors you enjoy reading.  This will insure their publisher will continue to publish their books and provide you with those great reads.

In the comments please indicate if you have ever written a review and be eligible to win a hard bound copy of PRICE OF VICTORY.  This hard bound copy will be the last of its kind as all of Avalon books will be published in paperback in the future.  If you already have a copy I can autograph it to a friend for a lovely gift.   There will be five books given away so check the Weekend Edition for lucky winners.

If you go to my webpage,  you can have another chance to win a copy of PRICE OF VICTORY.  Click on the September contest showing on the homepage of my website.

Keep on the lookout for Sandra's newsletter which will debut later this fall.

Okay, so I updated my photo.  I'm nine years older than the last one and was scolded by my friends. LOL    But I just do as my mom always did and take my glasses off when I look in the mirror.  Can't see the wrinkles that way.  See me smiling?  


  1. These days I generally only review books where I get a review copy or influencer copy. I read so many books that would literally be the only thing on my blog [not that there's much else on my blog right now... except Kaye Dacus's book cover reveal ;)].

    I did mention spoilers in one blog post recently - but I put it in white type with really big warning letters and you had to highlight to read it. It was something I felt strongly about but want to discuss off the blog so as to not ruin it for others.

    Hope that's okay...

    I do need to at least write Amazon reviews for books I've read but aren't posting on my blog. I know this. But I haven't... Bad Carol.

    [For those who saw this weekend but not the latest updates - one of sis's dogs is home and we think we know where the other one was Fri/Sat evenings but haven't found him yet.]

  2. I'm sooooo delighted they found one of the dogs. Hopefully the other will be found soon.

    And yes, bad girl. But I can't really say that too loud or you might not make any more chocolate chip cookies.

    Yum, I'm hungry just thinking about one. Would taste great with my chocolate velvet coffee. smile

    btw the fact publishers send out influencer copies for review proves how important they think the process is.

    I love those books, don't you?

  3. I leave reviews on the books I read and am somewhat influenced by the reviews I read, but there are some authors that have proven to be my favorites.
    I will buy their books no matter what the reviews are. Mary Connealy being just one of those.

  4. Hi Sandra, I do write reviews for most books I read. (this last couple of months some have been missed due to me being sick and now mums passing) I have a couple I havent posted (one cos I am only giving 3 stars and feel bad doing so).

    I have seen in one case an author from another country getting friends to put up reviews and in one case one reviewer used several names to put almost word for word reviews (the reviewer used the same surname and in once case used her name another another form of her name and one initials). I actually too more stock in the 3 star review than the 5 stars that had the same comments.
    I never put spoilers because authors have hidden gems in books I dont want to be told about. I will mention the first couple of chapters and what I like about a book and sometimes the theme but nothing later in the book or hidden gems. I admit I put reviews on my blog first then goodreads and try to remember amazon.

    I have become addicted to iced chocolate so am adding some to the goodies on the table.

  5. Whoa, Sandra, talk about chock full of amazing information!

    Thank you for delving into the mysteries behind reviews... And Amazon sure is something aren't they/he/it?????

    You've brought up some interesting points, but more importantly you brought chocolate. I'm sooooo in on the chocolate! It's Monday (I love Mondays!!!) but my head is stuffy and achy and I'm whiny, so the chocolate will clearly help.



    Nice job, my friend!

  6. Good morning Sandra, Seekerville!
    Excellent post. I always like to talk about reviews and all. I am a frequent reviewer actually and it's been about 1 year since I've gotten into this. One thing for sure, I like it. But there are some things people say when they don't like a book that completely shocks me! Do reviews infuence me? Yes and no. When I chose a book, I look at the blurb and I make sure it's Christian. Where they do influence me is when I look up the book and I hear several people say, for example, the book is heart-wrenching, well I know I don't normally read those ones so I take notice of that.(Sad books make sad... *grin*)

    And what else? I guess I was thinking about it yesterday, there's seems to be a slight competition in this thing. Well, I do it for fun! And I'm trying very hard to remind myself of that. :-)

    Love to support the authors!

    New pics. Sandra and Jenny way to go!

    Have a good day everyone!

  7. Hi Sandra,

    I have written book reviews before for books I love on the 3 sites you mentioned. Because I now spend more time writing or reading blogs/books on writing, I don't read as much for pleasure.

    You've taught me a lot today. More reviews get you a better chance of a pop up at Amazon. I'll keep that in mind.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Carol so glad to hear you've got one dog back!

    Jackie L.

  8. HI Jan, I'm with you. Mary is an author I already know and love so I don't read the reviews when buying her books.

    I guess reviews help to make a decision about an author you aren't familiar with. Or a new author.

  9. Hi Sandra!

    I LOVE your new pictures!

    To be honest, I never read book reviews, I read the back cover blurb or I purchase it because it's recommended by a friend.

  10. Hi Jenny, Wow, great insight. I'm glad you were able to spot the contrived reviews. Those do more harm than good in the business. Amazon is really keeping an eye out for those kind of reviewers and if they are caught will be shut down.

    Thanks for writing the reviews that you do. It helps the author and all the readers who are looking for a good book to read.

    I agree with Ganise. Great photo. And I'm glad you're feeling better.

    So sorry about your mum. My dad passed this summer so I know the hole it leaves. Hang in there.

  11. Morning Ruthy, I knew you would love that buffet of chocolate. I have to admit it tastes good to me this morning also.

    Okay. When does it NOT taste good???

    Thanks about the photo.

  12. Good morning Ganise,

    Great going. I'm so delighted you are reviewing for the fun of it. And not as a competition.

    Reviews should be sincere comments--just like you do when you talk to a friend and tell them what a great book you just read. That's the whole idea of reviews.

    Passing the word along.

  13. Oh Jackie, I so know what you are saying. I used to read a book a day and was told that once you start writing you won't read as much. I didn't believe them, but it is soooo true. Sad to say.

    But then again the writing is just as much fun don't you think?

    btw a good review of a writing craft book helps authors also. Its good to know if that craft book has helped others before you buy it.

  14. HI Rose, Me too. And I guess that is what they are hoping to accomplish with reviews---that word of mouth recommendation.

    Thanks for the compliment.

  15. Great post, Sandra! (And I love the new photo!) We now have such a great opportunity to support the authors we love through positive reviews.

    I think one thing for us to remember as reviewers, though, is that not all books will appeal to us personally. Everything we read isn't going to be "a keeper." Tastes vary. It would be a shame if ALL books were written just to suit MY preferences. So we need to be judicious in what and how we review/rank a book for the whole world to see.

    What is my motive for ranking a story excessively low or saying negative things about it? It didn't please me in every way? To stop others from buying it? To slap the author publicly for not writing the book the way WE'D have written it ourselves?

    Reviews/ratings can be such a wonderful thing--so let's use this new "power" in a positive way.

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. Morning Glynna,

    You are sooo right. Everyone has different tastes and that is why an author can't take reviews to heart.

    I think I like reviewer blogs, etc. When you find someone who reviews books and they kind of align with your taste, that person's reviews become more helpful to you.

    Hubby and I have a thing about television show reviews. If the professional reviewers call them average then we know we will like it. When they highly recommend a movie, we know it is off the wall and we probably won't like it.
    So it helps to know your reviewers. Just like it helps to know your publishers and what type of books they publish.

    September 10, 2012 8:18 AM

  18. Good morning Ladies, I am a reader and I do reviews on almost every book I read. I read some reviews if I want to know more about an author or book. Usually the info on the book cover is enough to make me want to read it.
    It is hard to believe that folks would pay to have them done when there are so many readers who do it -just because they love reading and authors that they read.
    enjoyed your post today, thanks for sharing.
    Paula O(

  19. Good morning, Sandra. I love the new picture.

    I choose books by reading the "look inside feature." So I normally don't read reviews.

    Thanks for opening my eyes. I didn't realize the suggestions from Amazon are based on reviews.

    I recommended my first book on Good Reads a few days ago. I guess it's time to jump in and review on Amazon.

  20. I had, in one day a week or so again, two reviews on Amazon (which, sorry Tina, I can't resist reading)
    The first review? Mary Connealy is one of the best authors of her generation
    The Second? Connealy was boring, repetitive and lacking in even occasional humor. I couldn't finish it .


  21. Wahoo, Sandra! Excited that your terrific books will reach more readers!! Also love the new photo.

    I used to fret about reviews until I realized I don't have to recap the story. I only need to tell how the story impacted me. I need to review books more often than I do. I believe reviews are important, but I don't pay much attention to them. I'm more apt to buy a book based on the author's name or a friend's recommendation.

    The coffee is yummy. Thanks!


  22. Thanks Paula and good for you on writing reviews.

    We so need honest reviewers out there.

    And you're right about the book covers. That is why publishers spend the most money on the cover than any other part of the book.

    Advertising is so important in our society.

  23. Good morning, Sandra!

    Oh, and you brought See's chocolates! Now THIS is a great way to start a Monday morning :)

    I've been writing reviews for a few years. You had a great suggestion to write one review for a book, and then copy and paste it to several sites.

    I always post one on Amazon and Goodreads. Other sites I go to are and

    But, like Carol, I've slowed down some. I just can't keep up! You've inspired me to keep writing those reviews, though, especially for books and authors I really like :)

  24. Yay Bridgett, Yes, jump in and tell everyone about the good books you have read.

    People who know you and trust your opinion will be helped in selecting their next read.

    I love the sample chapter idea. That's what we used to do in the bookstore. smile

  25. Mary you are tooooooo funny.

    Now go back and look at the reviews again for OVER THE EDGE. On Amazon there is a graph. Do you see how MOST of the reviews are 5 stars?

    There are always going to be a few who don't like it as mentioned above by Glynna. But a person looking at reviews is going to see that the majority of reviews are terrific.

    And one of those was me since I love, love, love your books.

  26. Hi Janet,

    I'm with you. I read a book because I know the author. But then you and I are authors so we know a lot of authors.

    The reviews help the average person who doesn't know authors nor do they know publishers.

    As authors, we know that a book published by Tyndale House is going to be a Christian book and one we would probably enjoy.
    We know that Harlequin Love Inspired are going to be faith based and a Harlequin Blaze is going to have a lot of graphic sex.

    But the average readers don't know these things so reviews help.

  27. Thanks Jan,

    Glad you like the chocolates. In fact, please pass the platter. I'm going to have another one. (Don't tell though)

    Thanks for writing those reviews and helping your favorite authors out.

  28. Jenny got a new picture!! Love it. What exactly is iced chocolate, Jenny???

  29. OOOOOhhhhh -- love the topic. It's something I've been thinking about a lot lately. Mainly because I do review every book I read, but since things got crazy work wise and then my computer crashed in the summer, I let the posting on store sites go. I'd actually decided to spend the rest of September catching up posting reviews on those sites after the last conversation we had here. I'm going to start this today :-)

    And Important for CANADIAN readers: Post reviews on Canadian sites like and!!!! Hardly anyone posts reviews of Christian fiction on Canadian sites and I think we need to make our voices heard to show that it is a popular genre and those books deserve to be ordered and put on the shelves in mainstream bookstores as well!!!!!

  30. Sandra -- your comment about TV show reviews reminds of when the movie "Dances with Wolves" first came out. Reviewers in big national magazines panned it. Picked it apart. But a Navajo-Hopi-Sioux friend raved about it and said not to miss it. So I went and loved it, too. I find that quite often the case with with movies and books--I like to make my own decisions.

  31. Thanks Tina.

    I drink iced coffee all the time especially when it is hot. Basically its coffee poured over ice cubes. Anyway that is what it is here. Jenny may have a different version in Australia. Will be interesting to see.

  32. Kav, Love that you write reviews.

    Thanks so much for the Canadian sites. I'll keep those in mind for my reviews also.

    Oh I hate computer crashes. So glad you're up and running again.

  33. Hi Glynna, Yes, the bottom line is we have to trust our own preferences and taste.

    But reviews help us find new artists.

    If your friend hadn't said how great the movie was you might not have seen it. But your friend's recommendation was a review. A verbal review. And you responded to it because you trusted that friend.

    We learn to trust reviewers as well.

    btw I LOVED that movie.

  34. Here's an example of what we mean by trusted reviews.

    Say I heard about a book and looked it up online and checked out the reviews.

    If I recognized a name and they gave the book five stars that would help me make my decision. Because I would trust that person's opinion.

  35. Sandra -- Oh, yes, I considered my friend's verbal recommendation to be a "review" of sorts! But what I was trying to illustrate is that people may have missed a wonderful movie when it first came out because of negative reviews by an influential person who didn't "get" the movie and dissed it.

    I've also noticed that some "reviewers" penalize a book for things outside the control of the author. For instance, a single mom friend who depends on book sales to support her family received a "1" rating on a recent book release. Why? Solely because it wasn't yet available on Kindle!

  36. Hi Glynna, Hopefully others won't take a 1 rating seriously when they read the reason.

    But you're right. An unwarranted bad review is really unfortunate.

    I think we all need to analyze reviews. If they sound honest or if they sound vindictive. Do they give valid reasons?

    For example I really appreciate reviews that tell me a product doesn't work well. If there are several like that then I really rethink ordering the product.

    If a person says they don't like a book because there is too much violence, then I won't order it because I don't like a lot of graphic violence. But if they say they don't like it because it isn't in Kindle well I don't pay that review much heed.

  37. Very nice new picture, Sandra! I really like it!!!

    I don't really like to dwell too much on reviews. I can get 50 good reviews, but that one bad one is the one that sticks with me. Unfortunately. I have actually stopped reading the bad ones, which I thought I would never be able to do, but I still feel uptight when I see that a bad review is the one at the very top on Amazon! Ugh! And when someone puts up a good review and pushes it down, oh how I love that person! LOL!!!

  38. I do review books I read but I am WAY behind. I also just post on Amazon. You answered my question in your post. I was wondering if it is ok to copy and paste to other sites. Know I know it is!

    I usually write mine on paper before I post them, if it was a really good book and I want to make sure I do it justice. I was was working on one last night.
    As far as do I read the reviews, only if I do not know the author.

    I like your new picture. Blue is your color!

  39. Good for you Melanie in ignoring that bad review. And 50 good reviews. Wow. That's impressive. You should feel TERRIFIC about that.

    Thanks about the photo.

  40. OMIGOSH, Sandra, this is SUCH an important blog today -- THANK YOU for writing it!!!

    And echoing your comments, I cannot stress ENOUGH just how important it is to authors you love to post reviews on their behalf. A review ONLY has to be 3 lines long, stating why you loved the book OR just that you loved it. You do NOT have to give a synopsis or overview of the book, so it's reallllly an easy process and SO incredibly helpful, not only to the author for whom you post it, but the readers. Publisher's Weekly stresses this, that reviews are critical to an author's sales.

    As far as my newsletter contest where I give my newsletter recipients an incentive for posting a review, please keep in mind that as Sandra pointed out, these are reader friends who have either signed up for my newsletter because they love my books or contacted me to tell me they love my books. To me, it only makes sense that if someone loves a book enough to sign up for the author's newsletter OR to contact and encourage that author personally, then that person is the PERFECT person to promote that author with a review.

    There is an expression that says, "words are cheap," but NOT on Amazon or or B&!! Words -- your reviews -- can make the difference between a sale for that author you love or not. And please keep in mind that sales are what keep that author in print ...

    Thanks again, Sandra, for a truly exceptional blog.


  41. Thanks Donna. I do like turquoise.

    Good idea to write them out first. I just jump in and then copy it.

    You are so right about reading the reviews for the unknown author. That is the whole point of reviews is to pass along to people who don't know the author.

    Most people don't know their authors like we do. We are into that because we are authors ourselves.

  42. Thanks Julie for reinforcing the importance of reviews.

    Yes, we may not like them personally, but the fact of the matter is we need them because that is part of the business we are in.

    Just like we don't like ad on television to interrupt our favorite show. But without the ads there would be no show.

    Without the reviews, there might not be your favorite author. So they are important.

  43. I love the new photo Sandra!

    But I'm hating the fact I want chocolate already.

    Thank you for all the information on reviews and Amazon!

  44. Something I started doing that really helps when it comes time to write the review: I place a sticky note inside the front cover of the book I'm reading and when something comes to mind that I want to include in the review, I just jot it down on the sticky note. That's really simplified the review process for me. :-)

  45. Interesting post, Sandra. I don't tend to post many reviews, but it sounds like I may need to rethink that. Hearing the influence they have for authors and titles really opened my eyes to their importance.

    I don't usually read reviews. I don't know if this is mentioned above, but Good Reads seems to be another place where lots of people review books.

    Thanks for all your insights!

  46. Yikes! What an informative review! I never used to read or write reviews, but now I do. :-) I like reading them alot lately. I didn't know it helped get a book out on Amazon...good to know!

  47. Morning Debra,

    Chocolate will give that jump start.

    Hmmm Is that a good enough reason?


  48. Kav, Thanks for the super idea.

    I'm going to do that because I do like to write reviews.

  49. Thanks Jeanne T for the recommendation.

    I have heard about Goodreads as a great place for reviews a couple times already so need to check it out.

    I've been invited to join and did join, but haven't really gone there. Guess I better get busy.

  50. Thanks Jessica,

    Like you, I was surprised at how much influence reviews had.

    We met with Amazon public relations staff in Anaheim at the RWA conference. It was very eye opening.

    Kind of exciting also.

  51. Occasionally I read reviews to make purchasing decisions, but I always consider WHY a book was rated low or high outside of the story itself.

    A friend of mine had her book rated a 1-star because it wasn't available in large print.

    I only write reviews of books I like because I figure there are enough readers out there who will post negative reviews about the occasional clunkers. That's why, on Amazon, the only reviews you'll see from me are 4 and 5 stars.

  52. Hi Georgiana,

    Good point. The why is always important.

    Thanks for writing reviews.

  53. i'm a back of book blurb reader. if it doesn't interest me there, i usually don't look to buy. if it is somewhat interesting, i check out the reviews. if it grabs me, i usually buy it (when budget allows).

    i don't write reviews often. i think i should pile up my latest reads and do so. i want to help my favorite authors and didn't realize just what my little review can do. thank you for showing me how important those reviews are.

    PS. some authors are on auto buy (again, when budget allows) Mary Connealy is one. can i be dopey and say she's my writing heroine? can't explain it... she just is.

  54. Hey Deb. We love that kind of dobey. :)

    Mary is a hoot. And she is a wonderful person to look up to.

    Mary you can pay us later. ha ha

    But Deb, That is a great idea to have auto buy. I didn't know you could do that.

  55. Ok, wait.

    You must meant that Julie's reader posted over 300 reviews for DIFFERENT BOOKS, right?

    Not all for her book.

    Because that would be... cheating.

    OK, back to the article. I didn't rea it all yet, just saw that and almost fell out of my chair,

  56. Hi Virginia, It is my understanding that she posted 319 reviews in 319 different places for the same book. I think she posted on every blog she could find, on every review place she could find.

    We should contact her and find out where all those places are.

    The second place winner had posted over 200.

    Julie asks for the link to the review so she knows it is legitimate that way. In other words it isn't someone writing 300 reviews on Amazon using 300 different names. It is 300 of the same review in 300 different place.

    Wow, I thought I was doing great with three different places. LOL

  57. Great blog, Sandra.

    I never thought much about reviews. Nor do I read them before I buy a book. Like many have mentioned today, I rely on the blurb and first paragraph to "sell me" on buying the book.

    Now, I plan to write many more reviews for the writers I love to read.

    Short and sweet! That's my favorite review. Doesn't take too long to write so I get it done and the positive message gets "out there" for the world to read.

    I'm sure we'll all try to do a better job in the days ahead. Thanks and hugs for such important info.

    Congrats on all your new contracts. Love the pic! Great color and you look fantastic wearing it.

  58. All right, I'm back.

    SAndra, LOVE the new pic!!!!

    And really love that Amazon is your publisher. I kind of wondered what was going on with Avalon because me and three other people had rejections of full ms's that weren't even opened. So, we all figured there was a shake up ins tore. That was... February this year?

    And I'm a review-o-matic. I review like a maniac!

    But I don't always have my own name on there because hey, we have to be honest sometimes and using my own name would make me feel like giving 2 stars to someone's terrible YA is asking for a flame. But sometimes it just hs to be done,
    because other people are spending their hard-earned money buying books for kids and grandkids.

    That said, I don't think I've ever given less than 5 stars for an adult novel. Not because they're all good, but because when I love something I get on there and review it because I want everyone to know how great it is!!!

    As for reading reviews, I do. That may seem weird, but I read all the really bad ones (ha, one the LP one star! How crazy!) and peek at the good ones.

    What matters to me is why. If someone says they loved it but not why, it doesn't make any difference to me. They have to say it was funny, great characters, plot twists, kept them up all night, SOMETHING. And it's even better if I see they've reviewed lot and lots of books. As long as they actually read them and didn't just click some stars for a'review', then I know they're a reader. You can usually tell by the wording, whether they actually read it. I hope.

    And some of those one star reviews are HILARIOUS.

    So, to wrap this up, yes I read the reviews. Bad and good. And I write reviews, but not always with my own name because I don't want everybody to know I bought a queen szie waterproof matress cover or denture ointment for sore gums or the automated nose picker.

    Kidding on all of those. Except maybe the matress cover. I sleep with a toddler...

  59. P.S. I'm pledging to go and write a bunch of reviews for all the books I've read but let slide on Amazon.

    :) Putting my precious time where my mouth is.

  60. SAndra- got it now!!

    And that IS a lot of places. I don't even think I have that many review sites... on my computer. :P

  61. Sorry. Spewing. Laughing at Connealy's second review.

    Luckily I used a pseudonym, LOL!!! :)

  62. Sandra and Virginia, actually the 319 reviews WERE for ALL of my books -- five of them, but a separate review posted for each book about 60 different places. :)

    You would be AMAZED at how creative some of my reviewers are!! I have reviews all over the world -- Amazon Canada, France, Germany, etc., plus FB, Shelfari, personal blog and every online bookseller known to man. I even had one reviewer post a review for a Liz Curtis Higgs'book and at the end of that review, she said something like, "Liz Curtis Higgs and Julie Lessman are my two favorite authors, so if you love Liz, you will LOVE Julie's books too." Not THAT'S creativity!! ;)


  63. Oh my stars, Kav, what good advice!!! I'm going to pay my alter egos to head to NOW!!! ;)

    Okay, seriously, that is a stellar idea. I get e-mails from Canadian readers all the time. And only a few of them want to kill me.

    So that's good, right?????

  64. Sandra~

    I don't consider reviews before I read a book. I read authors I'm loyal to, whether I know them personally or not. If I'm drawn to a book by someone I don't know, I decide based on the back cover blurb.

    I review books on my blog, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads (an addition I made this summer. I really love it!)

    My blog gets the detailed review. A spoiler-free recap of the story, the themes I found most moving, likes and dislikes, characters to watch...etc. I cut it down considerably for the B&N and Goodreads versions. Cut and paste is a beautiful tool.

    I don't review as many books as I read, but I'm working on that.

    I don't think I've ever published a review with less than three stars. That's not to say I haven't read books I would give low ratings. I just don't want to discourage the author, especially if it's one I like a lot who wrote a book that just didn't resound with me.

    To all of you published authors out there...As painful as it is, would you rather read honest, constructive, reviews, even with lower ratings? Or do you just want people to keep it to themselves if they don't like your books. ;-)

    I read the Price of Victory in one of those lovely hardcover library-friendly books. I would love to win it in the same format. I'm sorry to hear that they won't come in hardcover anymore. Paperbacks are awesome, but there's something extra special about at hardbound book.

    andeemarie95 at gmail dot com

  65. Wow, Sandra--everything an author wanted to know about Amazon reviews and more!

    Most reviews I post are 4* or 5*. As others have said, if a particular book just wasn't my taste, I'd rather post nothing at all than write something negative and discourage an author.

    HOWEVER--if I've read your book and haven't posted a review, don't automatically assume I didn't care for your book!!! I don't do nearly many reviews as I should. More often than not, I get sidetracked and the books I've read keep piling up.

    I do love reading those glowing reviews of my own novels. The bad ones? Not so much. On Tina's sage advice, I'm trying to stay away from checking reviews.

    Oh, and once someone gave one of my books a 1 because he didn't like the cover!!! I mean, really. Authors have little or no control over cover art. If you're going to review my book, rate it on the content, please!!!

  66. I must do more reviews! Thanks for the great post Sandra! Very informative :)


  67. Wow, Sandra, lots of useful info here. I had no idea reviews triggered those "suggested reads." Between the WE links and your post, I am learning, learning, learning.

    For several years I wrote reviews for someone else's website. Lots of advanced reading copies in my collection :-) That experience was good because we were a group of the same reviewers, which meant readers could figure out which reviewer's taste was most like theirs.

    I don't read reviews at the e-tailers because anyone who has bought the book can post a review and I don't know what their motivation is. With little exception, I buy books based on recommendations from people who haven't steered me wrong in the past or I buy the book because I've read other books by the author.

    All of that said, writing reviews is a *great* exercise for writers.

    Nancy C

  68. Great post, Sandra!! I'm glad to hear you say we don't have to do a whole book report. I don't do reviews sometimes because it's so hard for me to summarize a story. I know, I'm a writer and should be able! LOL

    But I'll gladly give my opinion about how much I liked it, or how much it made me laugh or cry. I can manage that! :)

  69. Sorry folks. Had to take someone to the airport.

    Hi Debbie, We talked about this in Anaheim at the RWA conference. It is more important than we realized.

    Loved Colonel's Daughter btw.

  70. Hi Virginia, Glad you're back. Me too. And how wonderful that you write reviews. That is marvelous.

    Did you see Julie's clarification? Thank goodness she jumped in.

    YOu're right to look at the why. And the negative reviews are hilarious. You just know that they don't mean much when they put a one star because it isn't in large print.

  71. Hey Ruthy what is your pseudonym? chuckle chuckle

  72. I do write reviews. I post mine on my blog, amazon, and goodreads (mostly). I don't actually review every book I read because I just don't have the time. But I do try to make sure to post them on Amazon. Since I get books for free from the publishers (Bethany House, Revell, Waterbrook/Multnomah, Tyndale, and Thomas Nelson) I am encouraged to post a review on amazon. The ones I've won as prizes are either sitting in my to-be-read pile or have already been read. :)

  73. Wait, wait, wait.

    Someone said here (baby is nursing, I;m having trouble scrolling) That they don't read reviews...

    But they review all over.

    Why review if you don't read them yourself?

  74. I like that everyone considers this important.

    VERY true Kav. I'm gonna start posting reviews on Canadians sites. Proud to live here! :-)

    Thanks for this post - and your reply- Sandra!

  75. Hi Andrea, How wonderful that you review books on your blog. Please give us your blog addie so our Seeker friends can go find it.

    Thats great that you review so many books.

    I'm inclined like you to not really post reviews for books I didn't like if it was because it just didn't suit my taste.

    Now if a book is misrepresented-like it says its a romance and it isn't. Or it says its faith based and it is the opposite, then I might say something in my review to warn others.

    But to be honest, with my time crunch, if I don't like a book I rarely finish it so then I can't write a review.

    But books I like I have no problem reviewing.

    I do love reviews. I used to think I wouldn't want a review if it wasn't five star, but after this research, I'm discovering a three star review is better than none. At least it means someone read the book. And liked it enough to write a review. And remember three star is still a good rating. It just isn't stellar which we all want to be but as it has been said, people have different tastes.

    So anyway, that is my take on it. And just mine. It will be interesting to find out what others say.

  76. Good point Myra, I am not always great at keeping up on the reviews either. When Dad was dying, I read books which were a comfort to me, but I didn't get to reviewing them. Its never too late though. Maybe I should.

    It has been said many times that we need to look at the reason for a bad review. I mean no large print, don't like the cover, can't find it on Kindle. REALLY???

    At least we know how to value those reviews. chuckle

  77. Julie, oops I skipped one.

    THANK YOU for coming back and clarifying for me and Virginia. Even 60 sites. Wow, I'm so impressed.

    And how fun that you got tagged on the review for Liz Curtis Higgs.

  78. Great picture, Sandra! Thanks for all the info about reviews. I read the articles about paid reviews. That was an eye opener to me, but maybe it shouldn't have been!

    Some of my favorite authors often get mediocre reviews (famous authors!) but I read every single thing they write and always love it!

  79. Waving at Eva Maria.

    Glad we convinced you to review. It will help the author and their publisher.

  80. Nancy C. You have a point. Writing reviews is a great exercise in producing a blurb. Or discovering the moral premise and pinpointing it in a review.

    Hmmm. We could count our review writing as working time. good good good.

  81. Yes, Missy, we all find it easy to give opinion and basically that is what amazon is seeking in their reviews.

    There are places like Romantic Times or different websites where they offer the book report type of review. That has its place.

    But all Amazon is looking for are "Do people like this product and why or why not?"

  82. HI Dawn, Yes those books we get free from publishers are specifically given out to get reviews. I feel its my obligation to write one since they gave me the book.

    I think though that when you are given a book for review by a publisher you need to mention it in the review--which I do.

    That way the consumer knows the review is more professional I think. I'm only guessing on this, but that's my take on it. Any other ideas?

  83. Hi Ganise, Glad this is helping.

    I'm going to get on the Canadian sites too from now on.

    I didn't realize they were different. I just thought was that all over the world.

    Although Amazon did have me set up foreign bank accounts so that should have been a clue.

    My my, I'm feeling so techy these days. STOP LAUGHING TINA.

  84. Hi Cara,

    It comes down to our own particular taste doesn't it?

    Once we find an author we love, it isn't going to matter what the reviews say. But we hope they get the reviews so their publisher will keep signing contracts with them.

  85. Hi Sandra, This is great info. Thanks for sharing it with us. I do post reviews of books I love. If I didn't care for it, then I don't write a reivew. I don't want to criticize other authors just becasue their book was not my cup of tea. I only review books I can highly recommend.

  86. Wow - what I didn't know about reviews! Thanks for cluing me in!

    And Kav - I never thought about Canadian sites. You're so right about the lack of Christian fiction in Canadian bookstores and in our libraries. I've been donating all my Inspirational books (the ones I don't keep) to my local library in the hopes people will love them and request them more!

    I've done a few reviews but will now make an effort to do it a lot more.

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  87. Iced chocolate is a chocolate milkshake complete with icecream and whipped cream on top with chocolate sprikled on top. much better than just a milkshake.

    Thanks about the new pic. its from one taken at mums funeral with a family of that is like family I cut my head out. I do like the photo.

  88. Sandra the iced chocolate isn't over ice cubes. its more a milkshake with icecream and at one place the whipped cream and chocolate (i think its drinking chocolate) sprinkled on top.
    the place up the road makes the best I have ever had and it was something I had the day of mums funeral.
    I love the cream on top.

  89. Hi Carrie, so glad you write reviews.

    Thanks for sharing. It is really important--more so than we thought.

  90. Thanks Susan, So glad you're willing to impact Canadian stores and shoppers.

    Have fun writing those reviews.

  91. Oh my goodness Jenny. Your iced coffee sounds ten times better than mine. yummmmy. I'm ready for some NOW.

    With mine, I just pour left over coffee over ice cubes.

    Now a coffee chocolate milkshake. That sounds terrific.

  92. WHAT A DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Here's a question:
    If Mary Connealy is in the forest with no one around to get her emails...does she make a sound???

  93. DebH, sweetie I'm a LOT of people's writing heroine. I think it's because they look at me and think, 'if she can do it ANYONE CAN!!!!!!!!'


  94. Great post, Sandra--thank you! And I really like your new photo--that shade of blue is lovely on you. ~ I had NO idea there was such a thing as a "paid" review---YIKES! For several years I've done LOTS of reviews--for author friends and also for a major publishing house (they send me a book, and I've agreed to read/review it). But it's always on a voluntary basis--cannot imagine anyone being paid for that. Since I read a lot and have many author friends whose books I love, I don't let other peoples' reviews influence me. However, I'm sure for many folks (who aren't familiar with a particular author) an honest review could be helpful (if it's written tactfully--I don't EVER enjoy reading a review where the reviewer has "ranted and raved" about an author's work). ~ Congrats on your upcoming book!! Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo
    p.s. I've been in "lurker mode" recently due to busier schedule, but just wanted to say I've still been visiting and reading the Seeker blog posts, just haven't commented! ~ PJ

  95. Sandra I dont do coffee at all dont like it which is why I go chocolate.
    have to say its been a lifeline the past week or so. thick shakes work also.
    Last night I actually had something better for my evening meal and I now feel I can cook again. (amazing what a couple of nights of sleep does to a person). right now need to get ready to get to work and then enjoy a wonderful sunny spring day. (wet again tomorrow)

  96. Patti Jo, Hi there. So glad you joined us. Boy do I understand the busy schedule. Its wonderful to hear from you. And I always love your kitty.

    And thanks for writing all those reviews. How wonderful for the publisher and for the authors.

    And I'm with you. I don't see any reason in a review or life in general for that matter to be mean mouthed about anyone or anything.

  97. Oh Mary. I hate when my Internet messes up.

    So glad you made it back.

  98. HI Jenny, So glad you're feeling better.

  99. Mary - whew! So glad you're back!!!

    I generally only offer to review books I expect to like. That said, I had to review two I wasn't crazy about because they were REVIEW copies not influencer copies. If they were influencer copies I wouldn't say anything if couldn't give at least a 4 [or 7.5 on my personal scale].

    But with a REVIEW copy I feel obligated :(. I do try to find positive things to say as well, esp if it's beyond just a 'personal taste' thing. That said, I've only had two that way. One I emailed the author and fully expect to like the next one better [just couldn't identify with the character but liked the secondary/second book character much better]. The other... didn't know the author but had to post it anyway and tried to balance it.

    Watching ET with two kids while the other two and hubs help look for the dog...

  100. I do believe that reviews are important and with so many books and so little time I think that reviews are super helpful so I know what I am getting.
    I also like to review books and state my honest opinion. I find that goodreads is a good way to do that, as well as my blog. And there are times when I like to read a book right away without having heard any hearsay, so that I can focus more on finding my own opinion.
    But I just love promoting a book that I truly love :)

  101. One some of my reviews, I can get a little creative. For example if I borrow the book from the library, I say in my review, "I rented this book from the library." Or if I borrow from my cousin, I say something along the lines of "my cousin loaned me this book to read."

    There was one I recently read that I only knew about because I'm friends with the author's daughter (she - the daughter - is one of my Mary Kay sisters). When my friend asked me if I would read her mom's book, I said sure. I found out a couple of weeks ago that her mom was thrilled when she went to amazon and saw a "real" review - meaning one by someone she didn't know - and that it was mine. My friend told me that her mom was impressed with my review for not only her book but also several others I'd read too.

    I also try to let the author know if I've just reviewed their book on my blog. I'll try to find them on FB or twitter and post the link to my blog post with the review.

  102. Beautiful pic, Sandra! You are timeless, sweets. You look every bit as gorgeous now as you did nine years ago.

    You're right about reviews helping promote your book. I read them when I come across an author I'm either unfamiliar with or just haven't read anything by them. I check out the 5 stars and the 1 stars. I find I can sort of tell when someone is over the top and if someone is just spewing sour pickles.

    The world of promotion is a whole new animal when you consider your ebooks. I love the touch and feel of a solid volume in my hand, but I have to admit, I love the convenience of my Kindle, too.

    All those rocks and hard places you get caught between, right? Keep writing the wonderful books you do and word will get out. Quality always wins : )

  103. I salute all you wonderful reviewers out there. It's one of the things I keep promising myself I'll be better at.

    When I see a one star review on Amazon I usually read it. and Usually, it's so lame I want to laugh... but unfortunately they are there to stay.

    I have been suffering with slow internet all day. every minute or so it stops to find itself again. After going all diva over it ( I so don't deserve this, you know) I realized I should just get offline and write. what a concept!

    Sandra I ended up eating chocolate cake for lunch. You know what? it wasn't even good chocolate cake.

    which begs the question how bad does chocolate cake have to be to not be consumed?

  104. Thanks for the shout-out, Sandra! I read the reviews to see what people have to say about a book.

    I look at a few of the 5 star reviews, then at some of the 3 star, and even the 1 star reviews. A 1 star review doesn't hinder me from buying the book, especially if the review mentions something off-the-wall that has nothing to do with the story.

    I've posted a few reviews, but don't have as much time as I'd like to read AND then review the books too.

    I also like Goodreads as far as a snazzy place to review. Seems like the "Likes" and reviews there are from people who really, truly love books and go out of their way to comment on them. Maybe? Dunno

    But I've been mega blessed with some awesome reviews, and I definitely need to be more proactive in returning the favor....

    It's just that as an AUTHOR, I've always felt kinda funny reviewing others' work. I guess online sites like Amazon, B&N, CBD, and Goodreads is changing that.

  105. Wow Carol, Didn't know the life of the reviewer would be so stressful.

    Praying they find the pup.

  106. Thanks Faye, Can you share with us your blog so we can check out your reviews?

    I'm glad you find them helpful.

  107. Oh Dawn, what a sweet thing to do. How nice that you let the author know. And now that we know what reviews mean, it will mean a lot to the authors to know they have a review. Thanks again.

  108. Audra, awwwww, you're so sweet. You know how to make me feel great.

    I just inherited my dad's Kindle and have been surprised at how convenient it is. It fits in my purse and I can pull it out anywhere.

    So I understand what you are saying. I never thought I would want to give up a book.

  109. Debra, I've had chocolate cake that was dry and rock hard, but still tasted yummy dipped in coffee. I would guess its the caffeine rush. :)

  110. Pammers, Good point about reading all levels of reviews to find out the why. Seems to be a consensus about sorting out the why.

    Also, several others have mentioned Goodreads. Guess I better get over there and take a look.

    Thanks .

  111. Sandra,
    I know you asked for Faye's Blog, which I love. She's a sweetheart.

    I thought I'd share mine with you all as well.

    My reviews can all be easily found in the label "book reviews."

    I know I've got a few of Mary's books reviewed, and several others as well.

  112. Wow Dawn, Thanks a bunch for sharing your blog that includes reviews. I'll check it out.

    Thanks for joining us today.

  113. One rule I have when I post reviews.

    I use my real name.

    I'm really determined to not put anything online that I can't stand up and take responsibility for. Not using a fake identity on Amazon keeps me accountable for my MOUTH!!! (I can have a problem with mouthiness!!!...I know, you're shocked)

  114. Grammar Queen is up and running so I will say good night to all of you.

    Thanks for sharing all of your ideas on reviews.

    Be sure and check out the Weekend Edition for winners.

  115. As a debut author, I appreciate your words about reviews. They've become much more important to me, too! I review a book every week on my blog, mostly contemporary Christian romance. Then I post up the review to Amazon, Christian Book, and Goodreads. I've started trying to pull a one-liner out for Fiction Finder, too.

    I try to not talk about anything that happens more than 1/4 - 1/3 into the book, though I'll occasionally hint at more. An exception is the biblical fiction review I've already written (but not posted)--we all know the real story, so the review in this case talks more about the writing style and so forth.

  116. About I'm Canadian, and I used to post my reviews to the .ca site as well as .com. Now, however, the .com reviews show up on the .ca site, so I don't bother reposting them any more. I just double checked a recent review I posted and sure 'nuff, my review is right on top of the .ca page.

    So I don't see the point in reposting???

    Also, I believe you can't review on .ca unless you've purchased from the site. At least, at one time Jill Williamson ordered her book from .ca for me so that she could write reviews on .ca, but that was a few years ago, before the reviews auto showed up.

  117. I do like to read reviews before I commit to a purchase. I don't rely on just one source though.

    If I love a book I will write up a quick review.

  118. HI Valerie, That is so cool that you write reviews of books on your blog. I love it when I go to a blog and find interesting information.

    Next time you post, add your blog so we can all go look.

  119. Oh and Valerie, thanks for letting us know that a review on shows up on I wonder if they show up on all the Amazons.

    I'll have to ask the author relations person.

  120. Hi Marybelle, I'm so happy you write reviews. They don't have to be long.

  121. A great article about writing reviews of books. You don't have to write a synopsis of the book. One highly acclaimed romance writer once asked me to write a review and asked me to write a one or two sentence review. That's all you need to perk the interest of the reader. It's almost like a pitch from the reader's point of view.

  122. P.S. I do write many reviews of books I've read. I post them on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, CBD, Good Reads, ShoutLife, Facebook, and either my blog or newsletter.

  123. I have been writing reviews for at least 3 years now and I love doing it. It's my small way of helping the author get good reviews on their book. My reviews are posted on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, and if I'm reviewing on behalf of a publisher, the review is also posted there as well.

  124. Hi Sandra, You've encouraged me to write more reviews, especially for authors and books I love. I do read reviews on Amazon/CBD and on many Christian blogs. I'm on a mission to seek out the books best suited for me... I only wish I had an unlimited book budget!
    worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com

  125. Sandra - this was such excellent information and eye-opening.
    Need to get busy writing reviews!
    Thank you thank you.