Those of you who follow Mike Duran may have noticed his Facebook post the other day about an Amazon reviewer who gave his book one star because she had a technical problem with the Kindle file from her library.
This is an inappropriate use of the Amazon review. Call your library’s IT department, call Kindle tech support, but don’t put this kind of complaint in a review. In the past, we’ve also seen negative reviews based on such irrelevant criteria as the price of the Kindle version being the same as the print edition, or the release date of the Kindle version being later than the print edition. This is not what Amazon reviews are for.
This will shock anyone who believes the Internet is all about personal expression, but the purpose of Amazon reviews is not to express your opinion.
The purpose of Amazon reviews is to help readers.
In other words, it’s not about you. It’s not even about doing the author a favor. Like every other aspect of writing, it’s about serving readers. It’s only about you insofar as you, having read the book, have the ability to advise those who haven’t about whether to buy it or not. It’s about them.
Here are some appropriate topics to address in Amazon reviews:
- Characters: Are they well-rounded, or boring? Realistic, or phony?
- Plot: Is it consistent, with clear cause-and-effect relationships, or sporadic and random?
- Dialog: Does is flow naturally, or is it stilted?
- Setting: Is it described richly, or inadequately?
- Mechanics: Does it contain lots of typos and other errors of punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling?
As for cheesy covers and formatting errors, you might mention them in your review, but I recommend against including them in your star rating. I believe the rating should reflect the content of the book, not its packaging or technical execution.
Feel free to disagree with me. That keeps things interesting.