top of page
background abstract smoke.jpg

My thoughts on Reviews

Updated: May 18, 2023

Reviews have always been a prickly subject for me. When it comes to art, my thoughts are different than business, service, or product. Some would argue that a book or piece of art is a product. I agree they are, but I tend to look at them differently than other things like a hotel room, restaurant meal, or doctor visit.

If you are going to be an artist of any kind, author, painter, sculptor, or whatever, you might want to develop thick skin. Nobody likes to be criticized and when you put yourself out there, it’s inevitable, especially for creatives. People have varying opinions about art, and it’s highly unlikely any piece will appeal to all.

We’ve all heard the reasons, everything from “helping” the writer become better to saving buyers from spending hard earned money on something that isn’t good. There are also the ones who hide behind “I’m just being honest”. Most of the time I think these are excuses to be rude. As if saying something hurtful is okay as long as it’s honest. But that’s a topic for another day.

The biggest problem I have with negative reviews is spoilage. I don’t like the idea that I might ruin something for somebody else. There are many, many, films, tv shows, books, music, and artwork I don’t like which are adored by millions. There are also many I love which were panned by critics.

For example, I don’t enjoy slasher horror. But I rarely discuss it, let alone criticize it. I could point out all kinds of things in these films, but why attempt to ruin them for somebody else? I prefer classic horror monsters like Werewolves and Vampires. I’d much rather prop those up and give positive comments to authors, filmmakers, actors, and others in that space.

You may not realize how important reviews are to an artist. Authors need to reach a certain number of reviews before an algorithm starts recommending the book. It’s almost a chicken and the egg game. Amazon and other online retailers want to promote popular things. But it’s often their promotion that makes things popular and they only want to promote things already popular. So how do you make your book popular so Amazon will promote it, without Amazon promoting to make it popular?

How many times do you think I could have said popular and promote in the same paragraph? It’s all very confusing. Let’s see if this helps.

When I published RED DOOR the author’s services company sent copies to several readers in exchange for fair and uninfluenced reviews. We reimbursed the readers so they could make verified purchases from Amazon and Audible. We only asked they give honest opinions and post those on Amazon or Audible.

Within a couple of weeks, two favorable reviews were on Amazon. Those reviews stayed for a couple of weeks, but unexplainably taken down. To this day Amazon has yet to say why. And I’ve had other readers tell me they purchased, submitted reviews, but the site did not post them. As far as I know, the reviews were all within the parameters of the rules, yet neither Amazon nor Audible gives any explanation.

I understand the policy and algorithms are in place to ensure honest evaluations, but there isn’t even a way to file a dispute or discuss the problem. These barriers prevent a story from doing well unless the author invests in another type of effective marketing campaign.

To give you a comparison, when I first published A Cry in the Moon’s Light as a podcast, it scraped by for about six months with small downloads. But the comments (reviews) were coming in strong. Once I reached over 50 comments with five-star reviews, Podbean placed my icon at the beginning of their searches in a specific category. After that, the podcast really took off. Six months later I had 30 thousand downloads, and the show was named to the Top 10 for Fiction Drama.

I believe this was all due to the comments. As of now, the show has over 50 thousand downloads and 150+ comments. I doubt the Podcast would have been this successful if the listeners hadn’t taken the time to comment.

As for me, I doubt I’ll ever be moved to put a negative review on another artist’s work. I’ll reserve that for businesses that disappoint, like Amazon. They get a zero-star rating in the review department and a zero in customer service there too.

I’m not suggesting you should say positive things about an artist’s work that isn’t to your liking, but there’s nothing wrong with keeping that to yourself. Perhaps consider how being negative might affect the enjoyment of others who may not share your thoughts. Why rob them of something they might enjoy? We all have opinions, and you have the right to voice them. But just because we have the right, doesn’t mean we should.

7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page