Flipping Over Honest Reviews

We complain about Amazon a lot, don’t we?  Belonging to a community of writers and reviewers, the number one gripe that I hear most is, “Amazon has removed another one of my reviews!” Although Amazon has never been this nasty to me, I can fully understand someone else’s frustration with this issue.  I would be upset and frustrated, too, if it happened to me.  But, am I the only one noticing that some reviewers only read 4 and 5-star books?  I mean, how do they always get so lucky?

When I became a book reviewer, not even half of the books that I was asked to review came close to being worthy of 3 stars, let alone, 4 and 5.  And, although I had taken a break from reviewing the past couple of years because of my busy schedule (I’m reviewing again now), my review queue still never fell short of books for me to flip through.  Lastly, no matter how much I preached HONEST REVIEWS around my community, I continued to see that some weren’t grasping the sermon.

By now, the entire world knows how I feel about everyone being given the opportunity to publish.  Just as everyone wasn’t born to write or perform open-heart surgery, everyone can’t review books properly.  And, no matter how many times you hear otherwise, there is a right and a wrong way to do everything…even reviewing a book.  Yes, I said that!

Some of you love to say, “But, what one views as trash, the next person might find to be treasure,” and although that might be true in some areas, it will never change the fact that if a book isn’t well-written (97% error-free) with realistic dialogue, believable characters, and a powerfully crafted storyline (an engaging story that won’t allow the reader to fall asleep while reading it), it doesn’t warrant a 4 or 5-star review.  Truth be told, if any of what I just mentioned is missing from a book, it doesn’t deserve even 3 stars from where I sit. So, why are more and more of these books being given such high marks?

The truth of the matter is…those who freely dole out these high marks aren’t any more special than you and me.  They are reading the very same books we are, but the only difference is, they haven’t quite learned how to review properly, OR, they are afraid of posting honest reviews.  Notice how I didn’t leave room for any grey area there – I didn’t, because there isn’t any.  This is a black and white issue – either you don’t know how to review properly or you’re afraid of telling the actual truth publicly about books you’ve read.  For many of you, I’m leaning towards the latter.

When these so-called reviewers leave their 4 & 5-star reviews of every or almost every book they’ve read, it hurts all of us – and then we wonder why Amazon decides to pull or delay the posting of some of our reviews.  Maybe they’re seeing a pattern that doesn’t make much sense to them.

Maybe, like me, they question those reviews that are all 4 and 5 stars.  Maybe, like me, they know that there is no way on God’s green earth that every book we read can fall into this rating class, especially with any and everyone being allowed the honor of publishing a book today.

I may come across to some of you as being really harsh in regard to this topic, but, I make no apologies about the passion that I feel regarding this issue.  Why?  Because this affects all of us, not just some.  If you’ve been lucky enough to not have been a target of Amazon (yet), just keep breathing.  As long as there are those who continue to post reviews under the reasons that I have listed above, we’re all just sitting ducks waiting for the hammer to come down on our heads.

We all have negative feelings about Amazon, and especially about the power that they have and how they wield that power, but, I think they are catching on to the fact that a lot of these reviews are bogus as heck and I for one, am excited about that.  Hooray!  Finally, I can point to something that Amazon is doing right!

When you review under the umbrella of non-truth or ignorance as I’ve laid out above, you’re also jeopardizing your reputation as a writer.  I can’t tell you how many authors who I once admired because of their remarkable acumen into the written word, have changed my opinion of them simply by a review that they have posted.  Now, because I admired these authors for their own written works, that led me to believe that they know what good/great writing looks like, but, it saddened me that they just couldn’t find it in themselves to be honest in certain reviews.  Out of fear? Fear of what?  Retaliation against their own work?  Fear that they would lose an internet-buddy?  Whatever the case, if you resemble the picture that I have painted throughout this piece, know that you’re causing irreparable harm to your reputation when you leave such reviews.

Today, I’m leaving you with this gift – in 2016 during our first WRITERS’ CONFERENCE & BOOK EXPO, we held a session on writing THE ALMOST PERFECT BOOK REVIEW.  I hope that you will tune in, listen intently to it, take notes if you have to, and should you have any questions about it, feel free to reach out to me directly via our CONTACT US  form.

Until next time…

~Nonnie Jules


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27 thoughts on “ARE THEY ALL REALLY 4 & 5-STAR REVIEWS? #RRBC #RRBC_Community #RWISA”

  1. An excellent post, Nonnie! Great tips from you, Beem! As for reviews, this is my personal policy–As a “nugget reviewer”–short and to the point–I only review books that I consider 4 or 5 stars. Why? I can generally tell after reading a chapter or two or a after a quick skim that says this is not a book a will enjoy whether or not to finish the book . There are too many great books (Indie- and traditionally published) that I read, then write and post honest reviews for. Thanks for addressing the subject of reviewing. As writers and readers, it’s important to reflect upon the perspective of others.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Nonnie! I agree there are some 5-star books out there I started reading and had to put down disappointed. I move on quickly to a good book and don’t leave a review because I haven’t finished reading it, like Wendy said, time is too precious. I only share the good ones on my blog and will email an author if I see a lot of issues and they are open to listening. That’s not always the case. I go by how a book makes me feel that is the most important thing to me. If there are errors it loses a star right away for that no matter how good it is. A good blog we all need to read, thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi, Nonnie. Perhaps I am the only one who does this, but if a book doesn’t grab me by the third chapter, I put it down and move on. I don’t have time to read poorly written books because there are too many great ones waiting to entertain me. For that reason, I hardly ever read any book that I would have to give below 3 stars in a review. If it isn’t good enough for at least three stars, it doesn’t get read. My time on earth is just too short for bad writing and stories that go nowhere! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I didn’t finish my thoughts there, but there you go! I think these comments section should have an edit button that will allow one to go back and make corrections.
    To finish my thought, I have read books that were written and edited by the authors themselves. And these authors claim to have done a good job when I called out their mistakes.
    I will always tell an author, through my reviews, the problems I find with their book, and I will score the book accordingly.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Of course, you are right, Nonnie! The problem is with the authors themselves. I have reviewed authors who believe that they have written masterpieces and hate the fact that I don’t agree with them. Authors forget that a low score should be a wake-up call for them to take another look at their book, and to call in the experts to help make their books better. i have

    Liked by 2 people

  6. As a writer, I know that a poor review hurts somewhat but Nonnie is correct that we need to grow thick skins. I know for a fact that there are poor reviewers out there who do not clearly explain (preferably with an example) what kinds of things need improvement. If we don’t like what Amazon is doing, we need to clean up our own act as a reviewer so that we’re part of the solution instead of being part of the problem. I hope everyone here checked out the video Nonnie provided about writing a good review. Beem did a fine job on that video and we need to make sure we’re not committing the errors described there. Thanks for the timely post, Nonnie.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. A most interesting article, Nonnie. I read and reviewed 150 books last year and my reviews are all between 3 and 5 stars. If the books isn’t worthy of 3 stars, I don’t usually post a review. I may have been lucky, but most of the Indie books I have read have been of a good quality and worthy of the stars I assign. I try to read a wide spectrum of books, although I do have my favourite genres. I try to read all books with a reasonable and fair judgement even if the story line isn’t a favourite genre of mine. Reviewers should, in my opinion, be fair and unbiased.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Robbie! I hope that I’m misunderstanding you when you say that all of the 150 books that you did post reviews on were all worthy of between 3 and 5 stars because I’m going to say, that’s not even humanly possible that every book that someone picks up, especially in today’s culture of publishing, are all that good.

      Now, when you say that when the books you have read aren’t worthy of at least 3 stars, you don’t post any reviews on them, I know that is a personal choice, but, let me leave some very important food for thought here – you’re not benefiting or helping the author of that book and you’re not benefiting the general public who tend to rely on those reviews to decide on their own purchases. We shouldn’t pick and choose those books that we don’t want to leave reviews on. This scenario goes back to my general post. When there are hiccups that need to be pointed out to the author, if you don’t leave that review, detailing those hiccups, how will they know? How will they grow? And, by sharing the truth about those books, you keep us from wasting our money UNTIL such time that the author (who you have pointed out hiccups to) can take it down, perfect it, and then re-publish a read more worthy of our time and hard-earned money. Once that has been done, then you go back, re-read the book (if you so choose) and leave a more glowing review. That also tells the world that the author cared enough to take that book down, work on it, and re-publish better.

      Thanks so much for chiming in here, Robbie!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post, Nonnie, and a timely one. We do our friends a disservice by rating their books as 4-5 stars when they don’t measure up to that standard. I see this so often with indie authors, and I think it’s part of what has given indies a bad rap. Writers need thick skin to make it in the publishing world. When a 2-star book gets a 5-star review, that’s as much a reflection (a negative one) on the reviewer as it is on the writer.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Susan! That’s the very problem that keeps authors from growing – they don’t have the skin for this business and unfortunately, I’ve also gotten reviews that aren’t nice ( but, I’m not a big review-reader of my own reviews), yet, I’m still standing and I’m working every day to improve in every area. I will boldly say that I’m not the greatest, but I sure as heck am far from the bottom in this arena.

      I’ve encountered countless Indie authors who have thrown literal tantrums when told there was an issue with their writing; tantrums like a 3-yr old. But, I’m OK with seeing adult trantrums because then it lets me know that the professionalism for this business is missing in that writer.

      I’ve had a member or two or three to leave the club when I have pointed out issues to them regarding their writing. If you leave on that basis, then, darling, be gone. We want those here who care about lifting the Indie community and the stigma that befalls all of us because of the careless publishing of so many. WE ARE ALL LOOKED AT THE SAME BECAUSE OF A SPECIAL GROUP OF PEOPLE. They are the reasons why Indies are not taken seriously…and, I’m busting my butt every day to turn that around.

      The bottom line here is that I’m not risking my reputation for anyone! I don’t care how much I love you and I do LOVE ALL OF YOU!

      Thanks for chiming in today, Susan!

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I take your point about people not knowing how to write a review. I had one for my Book 1 of The Wolves of Vimar series, The Wolf Pack. It was a 3 star review that simply said ‘Good idea. Poor execution.’ Now how is that going to help either the potential readers or me, the writer?
    What was poor about the execution? Was it full of typos? (No). I can say that with certainty. Other things? I don’t know what the reviewer was looking at.
    I have given poor reviews for books I haven’t thought deserve better. It’s hard if you’ve been speaking to the author online, but they deserve to know their book has problems so they can fix it.
    And as to the idea that everyone can become a writer–well, I have ideas about that. Whoever said ‘Everyone has a book in them’ should be brought to task. Maybe everyone does, (although I doubt that, too ) but not everyone has the ability to write the said book. This is where the ability to self publish falls down. So many mediocre, and downright bad, writers can get their books published, and that tars everyone with the same brush.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi, V.M.! I agree, that was a very poor and might I say, lazy review. I also agree that although we all may have stories inside of us, we don’t have to be the ones to write those stories – there are professionals for that. The problem is getting the masses to be honest in their reviews thereby debunking all of the notions that everyone’s writing is GREAT!

      That’s a huge problem – when an author who desperately needs to work on improving their writing is given all of these high-marks, they then get the “big head.” In their mind, they are thinking “I have all of these 4 and 5-star reviews so what do I need to work on?” A huge problem that those of us who really care about what is being published to the literary horizon, are struggling against. These monsters are being created by those of you who consistently give these (dishonest) high marks to books that are definitely not deserving of them.

      It’s time to stop the madness…you’re making it so hard for the rest of us.

      Thanks for weighing in, V.M.!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi. As well as the lazy 3 star review, I have a number of 4 and 5 stars. While my immediate reaction is, as you say, ‘Great, I must be doing it right,’ my next thought is that of imposter syndrome. When am I going to be found out? I continue to read about improving my writing and am a member of an online critique group.
        A pity the poor writers don’t think like this.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I value my time – it’s precious, so if a book doesn’t capture my attention in the beginning or it’s obvious the editing process has been bypassed, then I abandon this work, and move onto the next in my extensive reading list. We owe it to our readers to present the best story possible – I strongly urge the use of beta-readers prior to publication. Don’t publish in a rush – take the time and polish your story.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Honestly speaking, I feel the same way Nonnie… wondering ‘am I being cruel?’ When I see all five stars, I feel a little pressurized to follow the norms but I always mention the reasons of withholding the stars. I have even given 3 stars to some of the books of our club and never heard a thank you from the author, either here or at Twitter! Thank you for heads up, I won’t feel guilty any more. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Balroop! If you’ve never gotten a thank you, that’s what I’m here for – THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! for being honest in your reviews. Never feel bad about being honest in your reviews, feel bad if you give a book a rating it doesn’t deserve. Listen, I’m quite sure that I piss a lot of folks off with my way of thinking about this topic, but does that keep me up at night? NOT ONE EXTRA SECOND! When I stop working and get to sleep, I sleep like a newborn!!! I don’t care if we are the closest of friends here, if you didn’t care enough to publish your book at its best, then, don’t be upset that I care enough about my reputation as a writer and a reviewer, to tell the truth about it.

      I have a couple of books that I published when I first started that I need to take down and ‘fix.’ When going through my first novel one day, I saw all these hiccups in that book and I was furious that nobody close to me pointed them out! This book had glowing reviews. I know, it was a good story, but it did have hiccups that to me, are unacceptable in published books so I did get around to taking that one down.

      John F. and I were laughing just today about an ex-member who was upset with me so they went to Amazon and posted 1 and 2-star reviews of my books (some of them with glowing written reviews…I guess in their haste to get back at me, they forgot to change that part of their review…they changed the star rating but not the actual wording. I’ve been sent snapshots of these, by the way). I say this to point out that I am not concerned with those kinds of people and I’m also not concerned with revenge reviews, but, what I do care greatly about is my reputation as an author and a reviewer. I review honestly and everyone who isn’t doing that, should learn to do the same.

      Thanks for dropping by, Balroop!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you Nonnie, I appreciate your opinion about honest reviews. No one can win the world, each individual thinks he is the best but critics are the best teachers as they remind us of our imperfections. 🙂


  12. I have a book out titled, “The Haunting”. It has received 83 ratings with many 5 and 4 star reviews featuring glowing reviews. Then, along comes a 1 star with a review saying that the book is complete trash and not worth picking up!! Soul destroying? A little bit, but it does tell your readers that your reviews are the genuine article.


    1. Hi, Raymond! I don’t think I follow you on this. Maybe I need a clearer picture of where you’re trying to go because you lost me. The one review tells your readers that your reviews are the genuine article? OR, are you sharing that the positive reviews are sending that message? Help me out with this one because you lost me.

      Thanks for stopping by, though!


      1. I was sharing the fact that one cannot expect to receive all positive reviews. It is after all a concensus of opinions. However, to receive some bad reviews tends to reaffirm with readers that the reviews are genuine. Hope that clears the message a little.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I think, Raymond, that it depends on the reasons for the one star review. I have rarely read a book that is so awful that it truly deserves one star. Most authors put massive effort into their writing and books, at least the writers I know certainly do. They all belong to writing and Beta Reader groups and have their books edited. Sometimes a reader just doesn’t like a particular genre or story and that shouldn’t result in a one-star review if the books is well-written. Reviewers need to be fair. I had a one-star review for one of my children’s books because the purchaser thought that Amazon was too expensive and the book was cheaper from other outlets. I though that was a bit unreasonable.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi, again, Robbie! What I’m “hearing” from you is that someone once (maybe) gave you a less than stellar review (we’ve all had them, by the way) and now you lean heavily in that area of not killing a writer’s dream by leaving less-than-stellar reviews. You can correct me if I’m wrong, but, that is what I’m getting loud and clear from this comment that you’ve left for Raymond.

        I do come across those who review with this “chip” in their mind. Some have been so scarred by receiving a poor review that they would never leave a review less than 3 stars for someone else…in hopes, no doubt, that it never happens to them again. As I said above, we’ve all been there, and I don’t care how many poor marks my books are given, it is not going to steer me in the direction of, “Oh, I don’t want to hurt their feelings by telling the truth about what I’ve read.” Again, this is a personal choice for everyone but it is what we’re working against strongly at RRBC and it is also the reason that RWISA was created, but, that’s another post.

        Take care, Robbie, and thanks for chiming in again. It’s these types of back and forth (respectful) bits of communication that enlightens the whole 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. In general, I give ratings based on my level of enjoyment. 4 stars for a good read that I pick up often to continue reading. I reserve 5 stars for a book that I consider par excellence. I hope I will never be obliged to give a 1 star rating to authors on RRBC


        2. No, that isn’t what I meant. I was meaning that some people leave reviews that are totally unrelated to the book or the story. Leaving a one star review because Amazon delivered late or charged to much is not helpful to other readers. In the same vain, leaving a one star review because you don’t like a particular genre is also not reasonable. When you review a book, it should be with a truthful and unbiased eye.

          Liked by 1 person

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