Reading Other Author’s Book Reviews

Updated: Jun 2



If you ever have way too much time on your hands…


And you want to go down a rabbit hole that could possibly prove worthwhile…


This is what you do: Look at book reviews on Amazon.



When I say book reviews, I most certainly don’t mean those of your favorite author. Forget them. This might sound mean, I’ll admit, but I’m talking about the probably self-published ones.


[Editor’s Note 1: I’m a happily self-published author myself.]


[Editor's Note 2: Then again, there’s a lot of awfully edited self-published books out there.]


[Editor’s Note 3: Then again, judging by some of the Big-5 books I’ve read over the years, there are a lot of awfully edited traditionally published pieces too.]


I came to this conclusion after stumbling onto a series where the first installment had garnered 1,828 reviews – an extremely impressive amount – and a 4.2 out of 5-star rating. Which also isn’t shabby…


Unlike some of the less impressed comments included in there. Those, admittedly, weren’t so great.

Here’s the reason why you should look at other author’s book reviews on Amazon. And no, it’s not to make fun of what stupid mistakes your competition can make.


It’s so that you can learn from their mistakes instead of committing them yourself.


For instance, that book I referenced up above – and no, I’m not going to name it – featured a 1-star review from someone who simply goes by Catherine. She titled her complaint, “Awful,” and this was why:


Awful, needs a good edit. She pressed the buton for the elevator, waites for the elevator, the doors open, she steps in then turns around then pushes the button for the 3rd floor the doors close and she waites while the elevator rose watching the floor numbers change. The doors open on the 3rd floor, she steps out. For goodness sake she caught the elevator to the 3rd floor. We all know how an elevator works. The book is chock full of minute detail of every activity, it is tedious to read and I gave up very quickly. Life is too short and there are so many, better written, books to read.

Hardly the kind of review an author of any kind, self-published or otherwise, wants to receive. But it is an educational one nonetheless.

Having never read what Catherine was commenting on, I can’t say whether her complaint is actually accurate. But in principle, she’s correct.


Unless there’s something important about the “minute detail[s] of every activity,” they simply don’t need to be reported. They're unnecessary filler that the reader can easily imagine all by himself…


If he has to imagine it at all.


Now, to be fair, there could be something important about those particulars. Perhaps the character is pondering something important in the process of catching the elevator. Or is terrified that the person pursuing her will catch up. Or is OCD in the extreme.


In those cases, it might very well say something about the character, the setting and/or the plot to point out that she pressed the button for the elevator…


Then waited for the elevator…


Then noticed when the door opened…


Then stepped in…


Then turned around…


Then pushed the button for the third floor…


Then waited while the elevator rose…


Then watched the numbers change…


Then saw the doors open…


Then stepped out.


But if that's not the case, don’t waste the time, effort and space. Your story and your readers deserve a lot less detail than that. And you, no doubt, could use as many good reviews as you can possibly get.

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