Interesting look at the (sort-of) irrelevance of reviews on sites like Amazon, particularly as they relate to self-published versus commercially published SFF books.

Tl;dr, selfpub books tend to have higher average reviews because their authors do much more direct marketing work, and people are much more likely to rate the books of their friends and/or internet acquaintances higher than the books of strangers.

I also think there’s probably something in here about… people believing selfpubbed authors need more “boosting” via good reviews in a way tradpub authors don’t, because tradpub authors have their publishers and are somehow… not in the immediate review bubble? Or something? IDK. Anyway, for the record, this attitude is wrong. Which is totally why y’all should go review Liesmith and give it five stars because it’s awesome I swear. Four stars is okay too. Or any stars, really.

Because that’s the thing. I don’t always read reviews on books, but when I do, I tend to look at the bad reviews rather than the good ones. Good reviews are great for author ego-stroking, and it is true that a large quantity of good reviews in aggregate do help boost an author’s work (any author, no matter their publishing model). But negative reviews are useful, too. Negative reviews are more likely to say useful things like “there’s a lot of rape in this book” or “ew teh gheys”, both of which are statements that are much more useful to me in my media consumption decision making process1 than “OMG THIS WAS THE BEST EVER I LOVE IT I LOVE IT EEEE!”.

In other words, hyperbolic headlines aside, reviews do matter… just potentially not in the way you think.

(Also: go review my book, and be forever blessed by the Book Gods for your good deed.)

  1. In case you’re new around here, I would be less interested in a book with the former comment, and more interested in one with the latter. []