On Good vs. Great Reviews

The reviews are beginning to trickle in on Goodreads for my next book (Don’t Go to Sleep, coming in August). And The Perfect Place to Die has the most reviews (by far) of any of my books to date. (730 ratings, compared to Vodník in second place, with 295.) And I’mm going to start out this discussion with the big disclaimer that I know many authors generally just avoid looking at reviews of their books. As someone who actively reviews what he watches and reads, I can’t help myself. I want to see what people think about my books, and I’d love to improve them when I can.

But as I think through the reviews I’ve given and the ones I’ve received, I’ve somehow grown less focused on hoping for only 5 star reviews. Don’t get me wrong: I love to read raves of my writing, and to see that I really created something that people loved. But at the same time, more and more I’m paying attention to the experience people say they had with the book. There are two different reviews of Don’t Go to Sleep already that talk about how they liked that both books were on the same theme: Historical murder with a slight twist of the fantastical. This harkens back to an earlier post, where I talked about how I was going to lean into horror more purposefully as a writer. One of my friends noted in a response to that post that the more specific you can be in the “space” you occupy, the more you can snowball into more success.

The more I’ve thought about that, the more that makes sense. (Which is why my current work in progress is (you guessed it) another historical murder with a slight twist of the fantastical.)

There are authors out there I love. I’ve reviewed many of their books on Goodreads, and many of those reviews aren’t 5 stars. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like the book, and it doesn’t even necessarily mean I didn’t love it. A 5 star review, for me, is a book that was just absolutely fantastic. But I can enjoy a 4 star book almost as much. Depending on the person’s review scale, I could see some people giving a book 3 stars and still recommending it to others.

Because that’s the real thing I want, ultimately. I want people to read my books and want to read more and tell their friends to check them out. A couple of those three star reviews for Don’t Go to Sleep specifically say they enjoyed the book and would read more from me in the same vein. Would I rather all my reviews were five star? Sure, but only for the people who hop on Goodreads, check the overall rating, and then decide whether to read the book or not.

(Admittedly, I will do this when I come across a book I haven’t heard of. I’ll see what my friends on Goodreads have said, and I’ll scan through some of the reviews. The total number does carry some weight, but it’s not the sole deciding factor, obviously.)

Anyway–that’s all I have time right now for a post. Hopefully it makes sense. (And should you ever want to review any of my books, you’re always welcome. Wink wink.)

Have a good Thursday!


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