Reviewing Amazon Reviews

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It’s considered “uncool” as a writer to give nasty reviews the time of day. But. When I got my first (so far only, thank goodness) one star review for Fly Birdie it hurt. Fly Birdie is a little tale very close to my heart, and it baffled me that anyone could find gentle Hannah “disgusting” in any way. The hurt gave way to wondering if the reviewer had actually read the story. I always find one liners that say nothing at all about the story a bit suspect in any review. Then I felt terrible that she had actually been so grossed out at anything that I’d written. I really hoped that it had been a free download and that the poor lady hadn’t actually forked out .99 cents for it. All of these emotions were gone in an hour, and then I started laughing. I realised that I’d had a very sharp spike in sales since the posting of that review, so I sort of started to like it. Of course not everyone is going to like what you write. One three star review for The Visitation I have totally taken on board. While the reader really enjoyed the story and got into it, she felt that it ended too soon. She wanted more. Excellent feedback as far as I can see. I loved that she liked it, and I’m grateful for her suggestion. While that is originally exactly what I wanted to do with that particular short story – I wanted it to be short and shocking – I am now considering fattening it out a bit and sending that lovely helpful reader the new version as a gift.

Ignoring bad reviews isn’t going to make them go away. I for one am not ever going to try and hide a bad one. I trust that genuine readers are intelligent enough to decide for themselves whether a review is worth taking into account or not. If you want to sell books on Amazon you have to have reviews. Anybody can post reviews on Amazon whether they’ve bought the book or not, whether they’ve read a book or not, and regardless of their credentials as far as commenting on literature is concerned. These are mostly real opinions from real readers. Some are fairly obviously not real, and nobody with half a brain is going to be swayed one way or another by lonely onions in petunia patches. I spend a lot of money on books. I buy loads every month regardless of the fact that I don’t have much time to actually read them. I will get to all of them at some point in my life. I only started looking at reviews when I first published Fly Birdie. I still don’t often look at reviews, but when I do, spotting a really vitriolic one star review often has me hitting the buy button. I read the blurb, have a look inside, and then I decide whether I’ll buy the book or not.

As far as reviews for my own books are concerned, I hope that everyone who reads my scribbles will leave a review for me, to tell me what they thought. Good or bad, all of these opinions can only help me. Why announce rave five star reviews from the rooftops, and ignore the bad? From now on I’m going to take note of all reviews that I get. That’s the beauty of publishing on Amazon. You can fix problems. Bring on the reviews I say! I love every one that a reader has taken the time from their lives to give me. Thank you, lovely guys. To be honest, I haven’t actually roared too loudly about my five star reviews, so you might wonder why on Earth I’m going to share my really crappy one star review with you. Well. Because I’m sharing a couple of one star reviews from some really famous and outrageously wealthy authors, and I’m thinking that it’s only fair to tack mine on at the end. So – for all my lovely author friends that have ever got less than a five, here’s to let you know that you’re in the illustrious company of book selling rock stars. Rock on reviewers! If reading rotten reviews offends you, stop reading now, otherwise join me for chuckles. I’m very seriously compiling a little book of the worst reviews ever written. It will get loads of rave five star reviews and earn me millions. Ha haaaaa!

Till next time friends. xxx

Stephen King – Night Shift
(MY COMMENT: I LOVED this book – I would give it 5 Stars)

1.0 out of 5 stars One of the most horrible books I ever had the displeasure of reading., September 25, 2008
E. Adam Galmor – See all my reviews
This review is from: Night Shift (Hardcover)
I am a Stephen King fan. In fact, my most favorite book to date is his masterpiece, The Stand.
But the stories in this book are just pointless, uninteresting, uninspiring and downright awful.
I am simply dumbfounded at how this became a #1 best seller, or why it has such great reviews on this website. Rarely have been so utterly disappointed in a book.

Maeve Binchy – Lilac Bus
(MY COMMENT: I loved it as much as all of Maeve’s books – 5 Stars from me)

1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible, February 10, 2013
hope sank – See all my reviews
This review is from: The Lilac Bus: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
Awful book not up to authors standards. As if she didn’t finish it. Nothing came together. Don’t read this one.

Hugh Howey – Wool Omnibus
(MY COMMENT: Still on book one, but I really like the way Howey writes, and everyone I know who has read it, loves it)

1.0 out of 5 stars A complete dud. Seriously??? Five stars?, March 13, 2013
HouseofG – See all my reviews
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 – 5) (Silo Saga) (Kindle Edition)
It’s easy to see why the author self-published this book- his very poor writing style, dull plot, and weak characterization would have been rejected by editors a thousand times over. Having said that, I surmise that his success derives from one thing only: the originality of his general storyline, however poorly executed it was. The overall dystopian concept of an entire civilization living in an underground silo has apparently not been done before, and is the only reason I can give this series even one star. We can only hope that Ridley Scott, who surprisingly optioned the film rights, can turn this lumbering, slow-paced read into a compelling cinematic experience. I suspect that was what he had in mind.

J K Rowling – The Casual Vacancy
(MY COMMENT: Haven’t read it yet, but did buy to see what all the fuss was about, so $17 in JK’s pocket anyway)

1.0 out of 5 stars 100 shades of “meh”, October 2, 2012
Amanda Richards (Georgetown, Guyana) – See all my reviews
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: The Casual Vacancy (Kindle Edition)
Man down
In little town
Council seat
Nothing more
What a bore

This tedious, overstuffed, character-heavy story takes you through the machinations of finding someone to fill a vacant council seat in a little town. After countless repetitive chapters about the lives of the unlikable characters, each stuck in their own personal imbroglio yet linked in one way or another, you may feel the need to take a break to watch the grass grow on your front lawn.

The main problem with this book is that the most interesting character physically leaves the scene in the first chapter, and by the time you finish dragging yourself through the painful ordeal of completing the book, you’ll feel that he’s the luckiest one of all.

Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg – Nightfall
(MY COMMENT: Speechless!!)

1.0 out of 5 stars Blah, November 27, 2000
Shane Tiernan (St. Petersburg, FL United States) – See all my reviews
This review is from: Nightfall (Mass Market Paperback)
I haven’t read the short story but I would recommend it – even if it’s terrible at least it’s short and terrible, not long and terrible like this waste of trees.
It’s everything you would never want in a novel: boring, repetitious, filled with generic writing and dialogues; and all this is heaped onto an idea that probably would have made a good short story – oh wait from what I hear it did.

Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games
(MY COMMENT: Not read but really wish I could sell as many books)

1.0 out of 5 stars Panem is Snoozeville., March 2, 2012
Alex – See all my reviews
This review is from: The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, Book 1) (Hardcover)
I’m seventeen, and everybody and their mother told me to read The Hunger Games, because “it’s incredible!”. I finally decided “Why not?”, despite the fact that I have long given up on Young Adult novels. Sure, I’ve come across some good ones, but The Hunger Games is a prime example of why I don’t shop in that section anymore.
For what was advertised to me as an “awesome, fast-paced adventure”, I was bored out of my mind from start to finish. With every turn of the page, I thought it’d get better, thinking surely something interesting had to happen or else people wouldn’t be so obsessed with it. Twilight should have taught me that people can go nuts over poorly executed literature, but I gave it the benefit of the doubt.
The book is poorly written, in the POV of the main character, Katniss. When I say “poorly written”, I mean both in the construct and execution of plot and characters, AND the writing style (e.g., Lots of cliche ideas, like “it feels like I was just dreaming”, and one line I remember reading was “the saltiness of the soup reminds me of my tears”. I find that ridiculous, like some moping Emo-stereotype) And, because the story is in first-person, I (*spoilers*?) started the book KNOWING that she wasn’t going to die (not to mention, two books follow). I didn’t feel any danger for her and I didn’t like her. While, admittedly, I like the CONCEPT of the book, I didn’t enjoy anything about it while reading. The characters and plot are one-dimensional. It was painfully predictable. Cliche. Boring. Immature.

The sad thing is, I think teenagers like this book because it requires no thought–it has no sustenance by means of developed characters or intricate plot. If we want people my age to start reading, should we really settle for feeding them empty stories like this one?

E L James – 50 Shades Of Grey
(MY COMMENT: Not read – or bought, but reading EL’s reviews is a hobby of mine. They’re hilarious. Good for her causing such a stir!)

4,884 of 5,134 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not the worst I’ve ever read… No, wait. It IS., March 6, 2012
Ebeth822 (Tx) – See all my reviews
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Fifty Shades of Grey (Kindle Edition)
I downloaded the book to my Kindle because it was on the best seller list and had 4 stars overall rating on Amazon. I wish I’d taken the time to read some of the reviews. As it turns out I agree with the negative.
I found myself thinking “Twilight, plus some spanking, minus the sparkly vampires.” Here, I’ll save you all some time (SPOILER ALERT):

Once upon a time…
I’m Ana. I’m clumsy and naive. I like books. I dig this guy. He couldn’t possibly like me. He’s rich. I wonder if he’s gay? His eyes are gray. Super gray. Intensely gray. Intense AND gray. Serious and gray. Super gray. Dark and gray. [insert 100+ other ways to say “gray eyes” here]
I blush. I gasp. He touches me “down there.” I gasp again. He gasps. We both gasp. I blush some more. I gasp some more. I refer to my genitals as “down there” a few more times. I blush some more. Sorry, I mean I “flush” some more. I bite my lip. He gasps a lot more. More gasping. More blushing/flushing. More lip biting. Still more gasping.
The end.

The bad:
It was an interesting concept – for a “romance” novel. However the story is weak, the pace is slow and awkward, the characters come through as more schizophrenic than complicated, the “romance” is a jeuvenile and dysfunctional crush, and the “erotic” scenes alternate between “Penthouse Forum” and something that sounds like it was written by a painfully shy and sheltered 13 year old. I have now read through some of the rave reviews and I have to assume that these were posted by people easily shocked and/or titillated. I can’t imagine what fans are comparing this to when they describe this as “good.”

The good:
Nice cover art.

Jo Robinson – Fly Birdie
(MY COMMENT: Erm…..)

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Wasted my time, March 3, 2013
Linda Hutson – See all my reviews
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Fly Birdie (Kindle Edition)
Grade school quality SHORT story. Not enjoyable at all. I was disgusted by the actions of the “heroine” of the story.

Van Gogh pd book

25 thoughts on “Reviewing Amazon Reviews

    jennieorbell said:
    March 20, 2013 at 7:54 am

    Besides having a jolly good laugh at most of these reviews I’d just like to say that I’ve read Fly Birdie and that 1 star review is a load of old rot!! Bin it! Ditch it! – But don’t for one moment take it seriously. Reviews are merely opinions. And as we all know – some opinions are not worth the breath taken to voice them.


      jorobinson176 responded:
      March 20, 2013 at 8:38 am

      Thank you kindly Mz Orbell. 😀 We have to hope that readers can sort the wheat from the chaff and see what’s credible. Some reviews are really only good for a laugh. xxxx


    Elaine said:
    March 20, 2013 at 9:18 am

    Again, agree with Ms Orbell. Reviews are the opinions of each individual and in pleasing one, we can’t please all. If everyone loved the same book, then where would our literal world be – no diversity, no alternative characters, no difference in plot… it would become ‘boreville’, and it goes to prove it by the reviews from some top notch authors who have given us many literal reads. Well done Jo on taking this with a pinch of salt… Oh, haven’t I read that from the ‘Hunger Games’ review… lol. Good blog and good advice 🙂 x


      jorobinson176 responded:
      March 20, 2013 at 4:18 pm

      Hi Elaine! I’m composing a blog about your paintings, but my rubbish internet has me trawling to find your website link without any luck at all hooking on to the link today. PLEASE post your art site URL here for me. Have you read the Hunger Games? You are so right about diversity. Some books have me yawning but they have loads of lovers, and what I love has people thinking I’m a bit odd. 😀 xxx


    ajoobacats said:
    March 20, 2013 at 10:32 am

    (Sorry for long comment) A great blog post this morning! Totally agree at how ridiculous the 1 star reviews are, I often wonder if they re written purely out of spite. When I first started posting reviews in Amazon in 2007 my reviews were heckled by the Amazon reviewers enforcers (basically a bunch of people with PC access who wrote huge tomes as reviews giving away everything so reading the book was pointless). My reviews were short and superficial and the lowest i ever gave was 2 stars. A nominated bully among these reviewers sent me anonymous emails questioning if I was a real doctor (what that had to do with my review of non-medical fiction I don’t know) telling me basically I was not welcome on their patch. I have always put my real name to reviews. I pointed out that by emailing me I had his IP address and I could use that to identify the computer he was using if I wanted to. Thankfully he stopped. I deleted reviews I gave and I stopped reviewing for a few years and only started again with encouragement from my secret book club friends and my best friend Caterina. I am a medic, a scientist and we aren’t known for our grasp of grammar etc., although there are many medics who write. My reviews basically reflect how I felt while reading the book. I’m deliberately vague as I don’t want to give away the story, the description by author publisher is already there. I loved Ash by James Herbert and stood up for this book which half of readers were panning and the other half loved it. Iloed it and my review was givn negative votes because I liked a book? Sorry for having an opinion and expressing it cleanly in an appropriate place! (Not)


      jorobinson176 responded:
      March 20, 2013 at 4:13 pm

      Totally appropriate place to have an opinion. Love it! And love healthy debate too. Negative reviews have their place. There is probably something deeply wrong with me, but I generally find them funny only, and not a reason not to buy a book. I opened a book blurb the other day on Amazon, where the author apologised for the crapness of his story and promised to fix it later. Then – being me – I bought the book. It was terrible. I didn’t leave a review though. As a fellow writer I feel that reviews that are going to be bad should be left to the public and professional reviewers. There are more than enough willing to have their say. As writers we are more aware of good and bad writing and it would be really easy to wade in. I only ever post reviews for books I like and abstain from posting for those that I don’t.


        Christine Campbell said:
        March 20, 2013 at 9:42 pm

        Hi Jo,
        My books:
        Family Matters
        Making It Home
        Both by Christine Campbell
        Both available to download on Amazon Kindle or to buy as paperbacks on Amazon.
        Sorry, not worked out yet how to do the links to them. I’m such a newbie on here! I still have so much to learn. But I’m willing to try.
        I do have a Facebook page: and getting a blog up and going (it’s still very incomplete) on
        Thank you for asking. I appreciate it. Hope you enjoy if you give them a try.


          jorobinson176 responded:
          March 21, 2013 at 6:17 am

          I’ll look for them on Amazon Christine. To post the links you just copy and paste the URL once you’ve opened the book page on Amazon. Popping over to your Facebook page. 🙂 x


    Kevin Ashman said:
    March 20, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    ‘*****lonely onions in petunia patches******’ Wonderful imagery!

    I have had 3 x 1 star reviews over ten books and yes they hurt (1 guy called me illiterate!) One of them couldn’t open the book on HER kindle so give me a 1 star WITHOUT READING IT


    Anyway, I agree with the sentiments completely. Yes they hurt but all part of the journey.

    Oh, by the way, I usually have a look at the reviews on the classics, (Dracula, Moby dick etc) They are hilarious.

    Keep writing Jo – Black on White


      jorobinson176 responded:
      March 20, 2013 at 4:00 pm

      Ha haaaa! I’ve read your books and you are rock star, not even close to illiterate. Funny! Do you really still hurt after all your success? Three onions are amazing really. I think that the one star because of not being able to open on a reading device is just ridiculous. I’ve loved reading all your books, and thank you for eyeballing my blog Kevin Ashman. I’ll check out Dracula and Moby Dick. I’ve been laughing so hard at some of the one stars that I’ve been reading, that I think I’ll make them a regular feature here.


    Christine Campbell said:
    March 20, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    As a little-known author of two published books, I haven’t had that many reviews. Fortunately the few I have had were not too awful…some very good, in fact. So I can’t complain…but I can sympathise. It really hurts when someone tears your work to shreds. You can tell yourself they don’t know what they’re talking about, etc….but it still hurts.
    Because of that, I’m a hesitant reviewer. If I hate a book, I bin it, tell anyone who asks what I thought about it and don’t post a review. I can’t bear to hurt the author, especially if it’s another little-known one like myself. I’d hate to discourage someone from writing.


      jorobinson176 responded:
      March 20, 2013 at 3:52 pm

      I haven’t figured out yet if asking for reviews is the right way to go about things, but I’m happy with all the reviews I’ve got so far. Fly Birdie is a short story that I wrote in the tradition of the Grimms brothers, but modern. And I’m happy with it. Recently I’ve been eyeballing human empathy and that sort of thing, and I think that people who aren’t overly so might really be disgusted at the whole concept of the story, so I’m cool with the one star. If I really don’t like a book I won’t post a review. There are more than enough out there more than willing to trash authors – rightfully or not. Writing books is hard work and a lot of reviews are a bit rough. Pop on your book links so I can have a squiz – I’m always happy to find a new author to love.


    Terry Tyler said:
    March 20, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Congratultions on a healthy outlook when it comes to bad reviews! I get fed up with all these hyper sensitive writers who can’t deal with anything less than a four star – recently, on a blog post I wrote about accepting them, someone said that it was ‘okay if they leave constructive suggestions for improvement’ GRRRR!!! The time for constructive suggestions for improvement is at beta reading or (if you’re in one) creative writing group stage – once your book is on Amazon it’s a product to be bought, and will be reviewed in anyway the customer sees fit. So nice to find someone else who doesn’t get all stressy about them!


      jorobinson176 responded:
      March 20, 2013 at 3:41 pm

      Thank you Terry Tyler! You are so right. You never know what anyone will think of a book. I sometimes really don’t like a book that I’ve read, and then I see 100% five star reviews and I wonder if there’s something wrong with me. Now I see that it’s all cool. We’re all different. I’m really not stressy at all about my one star – the fact that someone took the time to say what they felt just makes me smile.


    ajoobacats said:
    March 20, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    As a reader/reviewer I don’t write reviews if I have to give less than 3 stars. When I find a book 2 stars or less I give feedback to the author and no review. If I went on reviews to decide what to read my reading list would look very different and I think I skim a random sample of what’s out there offering free reviews for anyone who wants one through the Book Tweeting Service. I have reviewed over 30 books so far since the New Year and I have 13 left to go on my list before I can sit back and read the books I bought with my Christmas money. I put my non-book tweeting service books, those recommended by friends and family, on hold to help Indie authors and whether they liked my reviews or not I loved reading their books. Even Shakespeare had his critics! I stand by my opinion there are dozens of books out there that every reader can enjoy. We have to find or tastes that includes reading books we perhaps enjoy less, at least that’s the principle of my secret book club of bookish women. We read each others choices every month so we discover things we would have missed if we just chose to browse Amazon by ourselves. We read genres we normally avoid to broaden our reading experience. Just like the huge number of authors we have out there now we have a sea of keen readers. The battle is getting your book out to people who will enjoy it most, outside your social circle or you just make the social circle bigger?


      jorobinson176 responded:
      March 21, 2013 at 6:22 am

      I love the sound of your secret book club of bookish woman. Sounds like you guys are having a lot of fun with it. 😀


        ajoobacats said:
        March 23, 2013 at 3:19 am

        We have our moments and enjoy the books we suggest even though left to our own devices we a re very different readers. We are total bookaholics though.


    adelesymonds said:
    March 21, 2013 at 7:34 am

    Great post and some excellent comments. I read/review as you well know Jo, and I will leave a review for EVERY book I read but if I find that there are lots of problems that knock the star rating I contact the author. If I don’t even get a reply then I take it that the book will remaining as is and post my review. If I do get a reply I make my suggestions more clearly and if the author takes the time to review there book and change any poor editing then the book will be re-read and reviewed at that point.
    I have left one 1#review


      jorobinson176 responded:
      March 21, 2013 at 2:43 pm

      I like that you contact the author first. Typos stare you in the eyeball sometimes and you just don’t see them. You are a professional reviewer and editor so it’s a shame that authors don’t reply and take advantage of your kindness. xx


    Ellis Shuman said:
    March 21, 2013 at 8:16 am

    I give this article a 5 star review!

    At this point, my newly released novel has received 8 reviews, all good. I assume I’ll get a few bad ones in the weeks ahead, but that comes with the territory.


      jorobinson176 responded:
      March 21, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      Brilliant! My first blog review! Well done on the good eight reviews Ellis. It’s probably inevitable that in the years to come every book will get a couple of one stars. I’m probably twisted, but I quite like it.


    Elaine said:
    March 21, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Hi Jo. Thank you for wanting to do a blog on my art. You’re a really kind lady. The web address is and through here you can find links to twitter and facebook. I have just picked up my novel draft yesterday that needs writing this year so I shall be amongst you lovely authors hopefully by Christmas ’13. If I get a bad review – who cares, it’s water off a ducks back and all part of the wonderful world of writing. Diversity is the name, taking it on the chin is the game 😉 Good luck with your next book, Shadow People. Let me know when these are available in paperback. As you know, I am still a stickler for a good book that is held within the palms of my hand. Onwards and upwards I say. And as Mr Ashman states, Black on white or in my world – just write 😉 xx


      jorobinson176 responded:
      March 21, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      You’ve done so amazingly well this year Elaine. It’s a lovely thing to share your art. I’ll post it on Saturday and pop a couple of questions over to you in the meantime on FB. Thanks for the luck – need it! 😀 I’ll be putting then in paperback in a month or two after publishing Shadow People 2 and African Me. I have to wait for all the tax things to be done. It’s cool that you’ve got a bit of time (or have you?? good old time!) to get on with your novel – then you’ll have it next to your proverb book on Amazon. Cool!! 🙂 xx


    Margaret Lynette Sharp said:
    March 16, 2014 at 6:52 am

    Is there a book in existence that pleases all of the people all of the time? Sometimes it’s best just to realize this situation and move on.


      jorobinson176 responded:
      March 20, 2014 at 8:14 am

      That’s a hundred percent true Margaret. I’ve heard of some writers who refuse to ever look at their reviews. I love looking at mine though, even if they’re critical – especially if they’re critical, so that I can learn what people like or really don’t like about what I’m up to. 🙂


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