Reviews – Do you read them? Do they make you buy?

I see a lot of requests for reviews that come my way via email but also posted on Facebook. So the question is do you read reviews and do they influence your buying decisions?

Now, honestly I don’t really read reviews. I tend to buy the types of books I like and that’s it. If the cover catches my eye and the blurb sounds intriguing then I’ll buy it whether it has reviews or not, good or bad.

But I know that if we take Amazon, for instance, that reviews help you get bumped up in ratings, and your book can potentially be seen as a “Customers who bought this, also looked at this…”

I appreciate reviews written for my books, not for the numbers but for the comments and seeing what people did or did not like about my writing. If Amazon didn’t count them for me, I’d have no idea how many were there. Then again, I love fan mail that much more because it is a direct communication between the reader and myself where I can answer back and interact.

Vicky, what are your thoughts?
Vicky: I’ve been a reviewer for a very long time. I’ve also been on the receiving end of reviews. Do they influence what I buy? Sometimes. Especially if the review is by someone I know or have been following and I know their tastes and how they mesh with mine. But even if I don’t know them, if a book has been reviewed dozens of times and all the reviews are one or two stars, I might be careful about picking it up. But not if the low reviews are sparse. One reviewer? Nope. A dozen or more? Maybe.

A single reviewer can be having a bad day. Or it wasn’t the right genre for them (in which case, they should say that in the review – it may be an amazing story, just not right for them). Or… there are a lot of reasons for a bad review (and just as many for a good one). And yes, sometimes, a bad review is just jealousy and someone being petty. That’s why I rarely trust a single review.

On the same thread, neither do I trust a single rave review. Maybe it was the author’s mom (best friend/spouse/etc.) who didn’t even read the book but was giving it a rave just to give it one.

For me, it’s all about volume. What do a dozen or more readers say about the book? I trust that more than I do low numbers.

Still, I’ve rarely purchased or turned down a book because of a review alone. For me, oddly enough, the cover and title draws me first, then the blurb, and finally, the excerpt or first page. Word of mouth is more important to me than a review. If someone who I know, and whose taste is similar to mine, recommends a book, I’ll probably pick it up. I’ve gotten some great reads that way. I’ve also gotten some that were…not for me. It all depends on the person, the genre, and the book itself.

So reviews? I have a love/hate relationship with them. I don’t let them dictate what I buy, but they are part of the overall decision. It’s the writing that counts for me so write the best book you can and I’ll take it from there.

So, blog reader, what do you think? Do reviews help you buy or do they pass you by?


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