Advice for Amazon: 2013 365 Challenge #157

I'm relaxed about reviews

I’m relaxed about reviews

I have been amazed at the discussion sparked by my post Getting Stronger two days ago, talking about my one-star reviews on Amazon. The support has been incredible, even though I wasn’t really upset by the review. As I mentioned in the post, and the comments, I was low because I inadvertently made someone else sad/cross/irritated (I don’t like upsetting people) rather than by the comments themselves.

What it has demonstrated, however, is the depth of emotion generated by Amazon’s reviewing system. Several other blogs have had a similar discussion this week, including:

http://greenembers.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/why-amazon-thinks-youre-stupid-opinion-piece/ reblogged on readfulthingsblog.com

http://rinellegrey.com/reviews-do-you-read-them-or-not/

http://dclozeau.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/review-or-not-to-review/

Amazon's arbitrary review system leaves me exhausted

Amazon’s arbitrary review system leaves me exhausted

The debate my post (and others) generated got me thinking – I rarely pay attention to reviews for books. I read them avidly for other products – cameras, ipads, vacuum cleaners. For any purchase, big or small, you’ll find me on Reevoo, trying to find a balance between the one-star and five-star comments.

With books, however, even though I do read the reviews sometimes, I don’t think I’ve bought a book just on reviews. I buy online the same as I do when in a bookshop – read a few pages and decide if I like the cover (yes I’m that shallow!).

The importance of reviews for a self-published author is more to do with promotion and sales than critique on the actual text. Which is probably just as well. Maybe it’s time Amazon came up with a different system for rating books. I’ve come up with one for them:

Would read again – (five-star)

Would recommend – (four-star)

Read it to the end but can’t remember what happened – (three star)

Read half, intended to finish, but didn’t – (two-star)

Didn’t get past chapter two – (one-star)

[The last section of this post came from a comment I left on Rinelle Grey’s post about KDP Select. Did I mention that I started writing today’s post at 9am with a 9.45am deadline. Oops.]

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Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:

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Claire looked at her friend and swallowed the hard lump in her throat. Don’t cry, that’s too much of a cliché. She reached into her bag for her phone to take a photograph, blinking hard.

“You’re not going to put a picture on the blog, are you?” Kim’s voice was low with concern.

Claire shook her head. “Don’t be silly, of course not. I might post pictures from the day, if that’s okay? But more of the venue than you and Jeff. It’ll be a great advert for the YHA.”

Kim twirled in her floaty frock and beamed. “You can fill the entire blog with pictures once Jeff has seen it. I want it to be a surprise, that’s all.” She smoothed the bodice over her bump. “I hope this doesn’t get any bigger in a fortnight.”

“I’m sure you’ll be fine. Are you going to buy it then?” Claire looked round the charity shop, sure everyone must be watching Kim’s performance. They had the room to themselves, however. I guess closing time on a Saturday isn’t their busy period.

“I can’t believe you managed to find the perfect dress in a charity shop. You’re so jammy.”

“Research, my dear. People on my salary learn to be frugal. I get most of my clothes from these shops. If you visit the right town then other people’s cast-offs are as good as new. Good labels, too. My coat is Boden and those jeans are from Marks & Spencer. Besides, you don’t get an item of clothing that’s less worn than a wedding dress.”

She gave one last twirl then reached round to try and free herself from the dress. “Can you unhook me, I think I’m going to pull a muscle if I try.”

Claire walked over and helped Kim take off the ivory dress. It was beautiful. I can’t imagine being that lucky, to find the perfect dress in a charity shop. Never mind one that doesn’t even need altering. She sighed. Kim gets all the luck. Fun job, gorgeous fiancé, understanding mother and now the perfect budget wedding.

“What are you going to wear?” Kim’s voice shook Claire from her reverie.

“You want me to get something from here?” Claire didn’t quite manage to keep the horror from her voice. Realising how rude that was, her eyes raised to Kim’s, concerned that she might have offended her friend.

Kim was smiling, but there was a faint line between her brows. “Of course not. If you can afford to buy something that costs more than I earn in a month, then that’s your prerogative.”

Claire bristled at the sarcasm laced through her friend’s words. It was unlike Kim to care about the difference in their salaries. It had been that way for so long, it was more a joke between them than a cause for bitterness.

I’ve never flouted my money. Have I? Sudden concern that she had been insensitive hit Claire, and she felt tears prick at her eyes. Bugger. Have I? Have I made her feel bad for earning less than I do? Her job is just as hard, it’s not my fault it isn’t as well paid.

With a glance around the charity shop, and another back at her friend, Claire made a decision.

“If it’s good enough for the bride, it’s good enough for her maid of honour. Show me the frocks!”

Kim shimmied out of the wedding dress and pulled her jeans back on. Carefully arranging the dress back on its hanger, she laid it over the counter and then took Claire’s hand, leading her to the rail of gowns sparkling at the back of the shop.

***

2 thoughts on “Advice for Amazon: 2013 365 Challenge #157

  1. Dear Amanda,
    I am an avid reader, and never look at reviews of books. I read the blurb, like the cover which hopefully represents the theme of the story line, and if still undecided, read about a paragraph of the sample to discover a new author’s writing style. I know all that marketing is necessary to the publishing process, but do not let it make you crazy or distract you from the actual writing.
    Reviews are just opinions, after all. If I had listened to opinions when I was young, I would have been untrue to myself and would not have enjoyed a long, fulfilling career path.
    Just don’t let stranger’s negative opinions get inside your head. One of my mottos to live by is “just because a trash truck drives by, doesn’t mean you have to accept a trash dump from it.
    Angela

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