Review etiquette


I have been prompted to write this blog by a number of posts on facebook about reviews.  I’ve been in facebook groups where the subject of reviews has been discussed, and I’ve seen authors posting about reviews they’ve received.  I have received a couple of negative ones myself, so I know how it feels to be on the end of it.  It also gives me the opportunity to comment about etiquette for reviewers.

The job of a reviewer is to give an opinion ABOUT THE STORY, and not about the author.  The review should contain your views about the characters, the story, how it made you feel etc, AND NOTHING MORE.  A review is not the place to insult the author’s intelligence (or perceived lack thereof), their lack of writing skill, and how you feel they were brought up.

Anyone who leaves reviews that contain insults, only makes themselves look bad.  It is obvious that you are doing this because, a) you also have a book you want to sell and you want to make your rival’s book seem worse than yours in the vain hope yours sells better, or b) a friend/family member of yours has a book to sell and you’re  trying to put down his/her rivals books, or c) you know the author from facebook and you took offence to something they said and want to get them back.

The thing is dear, authors talk to each other and those who leave such reviews get well known amongst authors for all the wrong reasons.  Anyone who reads a review that makes disrespectful comments about the author’s lack of education as a child (as appears on a review of one of my books) is not going to believe what the reviewer is saying, and will just assume that the reviewer is a nutjob.

Of course you must be honest, and if you could not get into the book, say so, but say so politely and without insulting the author’s upbringing/parentage/education or anything else.  Reviews have become a thing of ridicule nowadays because of people leaving reviews like this, and customers no longer have a valuable source of information to help them choose whether to make a purchase or not.

I recently saw a conversation on a facebook group where one such reviewer was being discussed.  This chick has become infamous for leaving insulting reviews on her rivals’ books because she also has books to sell, and knows that the only way hers will ever sell is if there are no others available..!  All of the people involved in this conversation were ridiculing her and her books, which apparently are not of the highest quality.

Look m’dear, just be polite when leaving a review.  You don’t have to lie and say you loved it when you didn’t.  All we ask is that you stop leaving such childish insults that only serve to make you look like an idiot, and to bring the whole of the indie publishing world down to a level of embarrassment.  We have enough to cope with  without this silly behaviour from amongst our own ranks.

Grow up..!


  1. You Go Girl! I recently made some comments about reviews as well. This is such an inflammatory subject. I simply cannot understand how someone can possibly think that, by leaving bad review, it would somehow help their own sales. I suppose that, like you stated, some people are just emotionally and socially immature and have had some not so good reviews themselves that they are having trouble dealing with.

    I mean, I’ve had a few terrible reviews as well but I would never think that, because of that, I should seek out other authors, and leave bad reviews for them. Reviews are an independent author’s bread and butter, one of there best sources of marketing and advertising because it goes right along with word-of-mouth. I take reviews, good and bad, very seriously.

    Of course, sometimes reviews can help. I recently published my first piece of flash fiction on Smashwords and offered it free. Right away, I received two reviews at three stars each. One of them stated that the piece could have used some proofreading. This piece was previously published in a magazine and had gone through so many editors, so I had to check into it. Sure enough, I’d uploaded the wrong file to Smashwords. Now, I’m still recovering from those two first reviews. It is a painful lesson when one is trying to establish themselves, or their name as a new independent author. I’ve now been reduced to sending pleas to others for honest reviews but if find it is very difficult to find people willing to read and review anything-even something of only 750 words!

    I definitely feel your pain in reviewing. I think the very worst is when someone leaves a one star review with no words or explanation, and no name.

    1. I have just about given up trying to find people willing to leave honest and objective reviews. It is disheartening when you go for months with no reviews, and then get one out of the blue that insults your upbringing/education etc. As authors, we are always told never to engage with our reviews, so we have no comeback when someone leaves an insulting one. It’s maddening.

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