Just Sayin'
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Just Sayin’ – About Reviewing Books – Be Fair!

Just Sayin'


I spend lots of time looking at books, blurbs and reviews. I’m astounded at the amount of people who rate books with one star reviews because of issues that aren’t related to a book they’re reviewing.


I’ve seen countless bogus one and two star reviews with statements such as: they weren’t happy with the speed or state of their delivered book, the book wasn’t in their preferred genre, and many more ridiculous reviews. Heck, I recently received one of those reviews on my latest book – Twenty Years: After “I Do”. Let’s keep in mind that this book is a memoir about how to keep a good marriage going despite tragedies and circumstances that can happen. I also don’t claim to be famous, I’m an Indie author and proud of my accomplishments. Here was the latest review on my book:  “Really? I thought when I borrowed this from Kindle that it would be funny and have meaning. NO What I got was a memoir from someone that nobody knows.” Yes, there you have it. I have obviously misled a reader into thinking I am a famous author and my book was written as a comedy.

I have no clue why Amazon doesn’t put out any good information to readers about the importance of the rating system. So many uneducated reviewers giving one star reviews for issues totally unrelated to the book itself! I would wager a guess that these reviewers have no clue how their one star complaints ruin an author’s book rating because of their inconsequential complaints.

In the instances when these readers aren’t satisfied with the Zon’s service, I would highly recommend they contact customer service to rectify their issues and not take it out on authors. Writing a review and giving it a one star rating despite the good writing and storyline is not warranted because the reader read a book in a genre they didn’t like. Here’s an idea – DON’T READ IT! Or better yet, please don’t leave a bogus review.

I don’t mean to sound biased here because I’m an author. Certainly if a reader has valid reasons for not liking a book they are entitled to voice their opinion, but what I’m saying is to be fair! If there are valid reasons for not enjoying a book then by all means state your reasons. Give us constructive criticism that can help us improve our stories. These issues can be rectified. But telling an author their book isn’t your personal taste isn’t helpful. Tell us if you found plotholes, unsatisfied endings, editing issues, too much head-hopping. Those issues are fixable and constructive. Sadly, us authors aren’t responsible for the manner in which your book was delivered!

Low ratings have consequences for authors – especially Indie authors. The majority of Indie authors don’t make a living from theirs books, let alone able to pay one monthly bill from them either. Us writers spend our days and nights writing, and even more time publishing and marketing our own work – burning the midnight oil almost daily so that we can inform and entertain readers. We also pay money to advertise our books, and laughably, even if we are paying for ads, some companies won’t even advertise our books if there aren’t enough ratings, or if the ratings are below a four star review on average.

So all I’m asking is for readers to be fair with your judgments. Think about your review and rating before you hit ‘post’. Authors rely on readers to enjoy their work and spread the word to others who may enjoy it. Give a writer a chance and be kind.

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D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction/memoir writer, who writes from her own life experiences and self-medicates with a daily dose of humor.


  • Jane Sturgeon

    It’s too easy my buddy, to vent on a nameless screen and then press ‘Send’. Being mindful about the other person on the receiving end is crucial. Hours and hours go into writing, editing, getting a book ‘out there’ and promotion. I am a bit naïve about Amazon, so is there any comeback, right to reply, review system at all on reviews? This used to happen on the service and not all unfair reviews could be removed, due to the wording. In time the review disappeared off the main screen, although it affected the overall rating. It’s hard for you and other indie authors. You have our support my love, in our global village, always. Hugs and much <3 xXx <3

    • dgkaye

      Aw, thanks my lovely for your love and support. But actually, as authors we are discouraged from responding to reviewers. Some people just have malintent on their minds and expressing our thoughts can often fuel their fires and in some instances make an author’s life difficult with trolling. So sadly, we have to bite the bullet, and so I write about it, hoping my words will spread and make some understand the consequences. 🙂 <3 Hugs for caring. xoxoxo

  • Toni Pike

    I couldn’t agree more with all your comments and feelings of frustration, Debby. I also find that on Goodreads some people are prone to leaving one or two star ratings without any explanation at all. However, on the bright side, most people wouldn’t take those more bizarre comments too seriously, and having a spattering of lower ratings adds credibility and authenticity to all your 4 and 5 star reviews.

  • Marcia

    All good points, Deb. I’ve had a total of 2 one-star reviews that I know of, and both were ridiculous. One was, as you mention, a complaint that it took the book longer to arrive than they thought it would. (How is that the fault of the author or their writing?) And the other was a guy who’d been “forced” to read the book because it was his book club’s choice for the month, and it wasn’t his cup of tea. I had to wonder if they also “forced” him to review it?

    I’ve been incredibly lucky with the reviews I’ve received, but I always read a few before buying a new book and see too many things like the above. I think the only thing we can do is help readers understand just how critical those reviews are, especially to those of us who are indies. It’s a make or break thing, and most readers simply have no clue. Hmmm. Maybe it’s time for me to make (and share) some new Review graphics. 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Hi Marsh. I’m totally with you. That’s what inspired me to write this post. And yes, it’s time for you to make some new infographics! 🙂 xx

  • Balroop Singh

    Nice one Deb! I would add… don’t review if you didn’t like the book rather than giving one star. Each book has something to offer, if you can’t get that ‘something’ or don’t like the genre, be kind!

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Balroop. I wish we could ask that, but sadly, we can’t ask people not to review, so hopefully by explaining what a review entails and how reviews affect our work, people can get a better understanding. 🙂

  • Colleen

    I have one review that says I used too many commas! LOL. I guess I write like that. What can I say? Anyone who reads that review on your book would shake their head. Amazon should police these reviews for stupidity not on who knows the author! 💜

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for the vote of confidence Colleen. Hopefully. like anything else, if we start standing up to Amazon. maybe our voices will one day heard! <3

  • Olga Núñez Miret

    Yes, there are five-star ones that are the same as well, on the other hand. Reviews on books saying that it was fastly delivered and it worked as expected? To be fair, the guidance on reviews for books explains people should only talk about the book and not about difficulties with the delivery or technical matters, but they don’t do much about it. What works, sometimes, is other reviewers commenting on illogical reviews. I once had negative comments on one of my review and other reviewers came to my defense. I agree that anonymity makes people think they can say and do anything. But why? They can get their money back if they don’t like it, and they can check the look inside, so if they don’t like it, they have some responsibility for it as well. Thanks, Debby.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for chiming in Olga. And yes, each review has a check box after it where you can check if you agree with or not with the comment and allows someone to comment. I always take advantage of that feature when looking at books I’ve read with an unwarranted lousy review to leave my two cents. People do read those things! 🙂 x

  • Hilary

    Excellent post Debby … there’s no reason to be negative to anyone: leave well alone. I so agree – if I don’t want to read … I won’t (if I’m sensible); also as I’m not an author and my knowledge of writing books is very limited, I’m most definitely not qualified to judge. I’m happy to leave an honest review.

    I know the ‘Zon has let authors have challenges re the reviews left which can be so negative for ratings … but I tend to ignore them – and take the opinions of people I believe and respect – by their writings on other mediums.

    I guess we just have to rely on ourselves to ignore the ignoramuses of this world and carry on … but has been so difficult for one or two authors, and as you say is so so unfair … even to people who are just happily writing their books and getting their word out in public …

    Take care … you are worth it!! Cheers Hilary

  • John Maberry

    Doubtful the person who posted the one-star review will see your vent–which is a good thing, of course. Here’s the thing though, which you undoubtedly know, a FEW bad reviews is a good thing (think I saw that on an Anne Allen post some time) because it makes the four and five star reviews look more honest. If all you have are five stars, it invites suspicion. 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Well I’d hate to be suspected! LOL. But I do hear you. And I did notice you must have had a problem commenting because I got both comments. 🙂

  • John Maberry

    I think it might have been an Anne Allen post that said a FEW bad reviews or low stars is good. It makes a bunch of four and five star reviews look more honest. 🙂

  • Wendy

    I don’t think there is an indie author out there that would not relate to this post. Amazon doesn’t care if readers understand their system or not. In fact, it seems that every roadblock possible it put in front of indie authors in general.

    I’m sorry you have that review, but as you noted, we all get them. Hopefully your readers will understand and move on.

  • sally Cronin

    Quite agree with you Debby.. if it is because the book or product has not been delivered it should not be taken out on the author and those reviews should be removed as to that woman who left that review… she is clearly self-important and a legend in her own mind… xxx♥

  • Stevie Turner

    Well said, Debby. There are also many social media trolls who like to give 1 star reviews just for the heck of it. They form groups, and authors sometimes find lots of 1 star reviews appear at the same time as they find an Indie author to target.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Stevie. And I’ve heard plenty about those trolls. That’s why it’s essential we don’t react by responding to those trolls so they don’t spread the fire! 🙁

  • Terri Webster Schrandt

    So far I have been lucky to not receive a useless review. I have seen so many of what you describe. People need to review the content of the book, not the extraneous crap on the logistics of their order or other useless info. I have left less than a stellar review of other amazon products, but a book is so subjective. I think many people simply do not know how to write a review and if the book isn’t what they expected (again subjective), then they write from that POV. Good, educational post, Deb…too bad those types of reviewers won’t ever read this!

    • dgkaye

      Thanks so much for adding to the conversation Terri. You are right on all counts! And yes, too bad those reviewers won’t get my feedback. But hopefully if anyone who reads this post doesn’t know how reviews work, they may get an education. And of course, the more shares across the waves, perhaps some of those eyes may fall on it. 🙂 x

  • Jeri Walker (@JeriWB)

    When I was reviewing more books and posting those reviews on my blog, I never posted a one or two star review for independently published authors. I know how reviews can impact how a book is perceived. But the reason I stopped posting less-than-enthusiastic review for indie books happened after this one guy retaliated after I reviewed his book in an honest and even-handed tone as to why it deserved two stars. He gave my three titles a one-star review and wrote me a nasty email. But yes, useless reviews are the worst.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for sharing Jeri. Criticism is tough enough to take, but at least, if it’s constructive we can learn something from it. And I am like you, I won’t review a book less than 3 stars. I don’t want to attract trolls and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or contribute to a low rating. On the other hand, I would not lie and give a book a high rating and put my name on that review if I didn’t believe it was warranted. We have our reputations to keep as reviewers too. Sometimes a bit of a rock and hard place. 🙂 x

  • Claire Fullerton

    Debbie: among the long list of what I adore about you is your uncanny knack for saying the unmentionable. And you ARE a famous author, according to me. So there! I’ll add here a good one, which recently happened to me: a reviewer wrote on Goodreads about one of my books “Shelved. Didn’t finish,” and that was it!

    • dgkaye

      Oh Claire, you are good for the soul! Thanks for the vote of confidence. And grrr, I’m sorry your book received one of those nonsensical reviews too. A review is supposed to help a reader decide from the opinion if they’d like to read that book. Certainly that stupid remark doesn’t help a reader and certainly not the author! I wish there was a way to stop the madness.
      I appreciate your adding to the conversation. <3

  • Hugh Roberts

    You do right by not responding to the trolls or the negative reviews, Debby. Leave them well alone. I think the majority of those who read reviews always work out which reviews are genuine and useful.

    I always shake my head when reading reviews that make no sense and don’t help. It’s a little like those spam bloggers who leave the same comment on every single post they click on and haven’t read. If it isn’t going to help, then don’t write and leave it.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for adding to the conversation Hugh. Yes, the last thing we should do is interact with the reviews. I’ve read too many stories about authors getting involved in troll wars and almost having their careers ruined because of. Like you say, when majority of reviews are good and you read one that has no bearing on a book you know it’s ridiculous. Still it’s just not right! <3

  • Jacqui Murray

    I am lock-step with you on this one, Deb. Because several of mine are about the military, I get those who hate war deriding the book in their comments. Why did they pick it up?

    I will say, I got a 1-star review from a reader who started it by saying, “I haven’t read this book…” I notified Amazon and they removed it the same day. Very cool.

    • dgkaye

      Wow Jacqui, thanks for sharing here. Isn’t that just a bee sting! Because of the subject matter, ignorant and uneducated people make assumptions about things without even reading. The hits just keep coming it seems. I”m glad to hear Amazon took off that useless comment, but the fact that someone mindlessly even wrote it is ridiculous! 🙂

  • coastalmom

    I knoooow!!!! THAT is so annoying especially on Amazon where they are reviewing the seller’s! The quality of the “cover”!!!! Seriously??? Don’t they know it’s not the author’s fault if an audiobook skips or because of the way they shipped it? Great post I’ve wanted to say something about that for a long time! If I’ve particularly loved a book, I’ve even responded to a reviewer once or twice to kindly tell them that they needed to review the seller NOT the author! Lol. People don’t care.

    • dgkaye

      HI Di! Nice to see you pop by. And thank you for being one of those people who comments on stupid reviews. I do all the time. I just abhor injustice. 🙂 xx

  • Vashti Q

    Hi Debby! This reminds me of a picture I saw recently of Leonardo DiCaprio holding up a one star review of his movie “The Revenant”.The reviewer gave him a one star review because there were no wolves in the movie. :/ Talk about ridiculous. Author, Anne Rice says she’s stopped reading the reviews to her books because it just became too much with the trolls. And then we have Amazon who refuses to remove nonsense reviews and yet removes perfectly good ones. They recently removed one of my 5 star reviews––that is painful. I read your last review and it didn’t make any sense to me. This person clearly did not read the description of the book. Amazon should remove it. Don’t people know how important these reviews are to authors, especially indie authors? And why would someone pick up a book whose genre they don’t like, only to give the author a bad review because they didn’t like the genre. I got confused just writing that. How about those that give books 1 and 2 star reviews and don’t write anything? I think those are the worst. If you’re going to give a book a bad review at least have the decency to say what you didn’t like about it. It can be a frustrating situation. I’m sorry you had to go through this. 🙁 <3 xx

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for jumping in here Vashti. It’s uncanny isn’t it? And speaking of Anne Rice, she had a ton of trouble with trolls through the years. I remember reading a few articles written by her on the troll situation she got herself in. I believe she spoke up to them and that’s what made the situation worse. Sad we can’t defend ourselves or we end up in a pot of trouble with trolls smearing our name everywhere on social media.
      Some people are just miserable and the only satisfaction they get it making others miserable too. 🙁 <3 xd

  • Crystal Collier

    I hear you there. And here’s the thing, if you’re say, a middle aged man, don’t pick up a YA romance meant for girls and then rip on it because you didn’t enjoy it–because it’s not written for middle aged men. (True story.) I just don’t get some people, but I suppose that leave it to the rest of us to fill the world with good reviews.

  • lisa thomson-The Great Escape...

    EXACTLY. So true, Deb. And thanks for bringing this up. On the opposite end of the scale, Amazon is removing reviews on Indie books and disallowing reviews from someone the author may know…even when the reader bought the book because they wanted to read it. Hello?

    I don’t know what’s going on with Amazon. I realize they’re cracking down on fake reviews, and yet they allow these ridiculous, unrelated reviews for Indie books. I see a message when I’m shopping for e-books, where Amazon asks if I want to rate and review this book when I haven’t even bought let alone read it! So, I’m deeply disturbed at the whole fiasco that is Amazon reviews. Now, I’m going to read every single comment here. 😛 Great post!!

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for chiming in Lis. Yes, this is what happens when business is run mostly by technology. The human aspect is long gone! The Amazon soldiers are there disturbing all things good for Indies and allow the chaos. And don’t get me started on how Canadian authors are treated like we’re from a third world country – we can’t take part in Kindle countdowns, our paperback royalties are held back until they meet a threshold, and we get raped on shipping charges. There’s really nothing on our side. 🙁

  • Carol Balawyder

    Debby, thanks for this important post. I was glad to learn that one can contact Amazon about phoney reviews. Hard to understand why some people waste their time writing such reviews. Btw, I find it so ignorant and superficial for someone to critize a book because the author is not famous.

  • writerchristophfischer

    Thanks Debby. I full-heartedly agree. Please people be fair in all reviews. Reviews and the Internet have given people an almost anonymous way to vent anger and a safe way to say things they may not say in real life. Yes, you don’t have to be overly sweet or nice, but be fair.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Marje. Yes, anyone can flag not helpful to any review. In fact, I always do that when I’m going to a friend’s book page and see a glaring stupid comment. Everyone should do the same. We are also offered to comment to the reviewer, but I don’t suggest communicating with a troll as it will lead to more problems down the road. 🙂 xx

  • Robbie Cheadle

    I agree, Debby, that some of the reviews are ridiculous. It is not fair to blame the author for bad service by the seller but people are a bit like that. They react by hitting out at the most available person. I had a one star rating for one of my Sir Choc books with no review or explanation. What can be so utterly awful about a fantasy story for kids with fondant and cake illustrations. It is weird but I don’t take it to heart. That is life.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Robbie. I’ve never complained to Amazon before about stupid reviews, but I’m tired of authors getting the short end on reviews, considering we strive for good reviews. For the first time I have submitted a complaint to Amazon about this one. If we don’t speak up, we’ll continue to be shit on. 🙂

  • Pamela

    Oh, Deb, don’t get me started! For myself, when I read a book, if I don’t like it, I don’t read it to the end, and I certainly don’t review it. I know that each reader has her/his own preferences of the kinds of book she reads, so what might do nothing for me, might really ‘speak’ to another reader. So, I read the book genre I want, and then I will review with usually a 4 or 5 star review and highlight what’s good about that book. I’ve had (just a few, thank goodness) reviews on my own romantic suspense books in which a reader says, “1 star – I hate romantic suspense”. Jeez. Then don’t read my book! I’m sensitive about how hard an author works to write a good book. Thus, I gave up on belonging to book clubs. I dislike the members who find itty bitty trivial faults with a book’s content while not mentioning all the good work that’s gone into writing that book. I end up feeling so sorry for the author (who of course has no idea that her/his book is being dissected by this book club) that I just stop going. ;-0

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for sharing some of your own experience Pam. You are just another example of a stupid reviewer giving your book a crappy rating because it wasn’t their genre. This is unjust and we have to start fighting Amazon on these stupid reviews. I have sent them 2 emails about it now and waiting for a reply. And I’m with you on book clubs. Besides the intense scrutiny, I’m not fond of having to read a book in a genre I too don’t enjoy. 🙂 x

  • Norah Colvin

    This is really good advice, Debby. No review is better than an off-the-mark review. As you say, it’s just mean to leave a one-star review for a book that isn’t your preferred genre or not what you expected. It’s so important to let readers know what effect their reviews may have on someone else’s livelihood.

  • Elaine Ambrose

    Sometimes I investigate the ones who leave 1-Star reviews on my books. I clicked on the name of one low reviewer and learned that she only wrote one other review on Amazon – and that was for dog food. Unfortunately, her negative review weighed as much as a 5-Star.

    • dgkaye

      I always investigate the 1 and 2 stars on every book I peruse. It’s astounding and sometimes comical (when it’s not our books) to read nonsense totally unrelated to the book vs. mainly 4 and 5 star reviews. I did bring it to the Zon’s attention, to no avail, as their response was: “We encourage people to air their thoughts.” WTF is up with that? 🙁
      Thanks for dropping by Elaine. 🙂

  • Sherri Matthews

    Oh Deb, I just don’t understand it. Surely if that reviewer had read your blurb and description properly, they would have known exactly what kind of memoir they were getting. They made the choice to buy and read it, after all! Nobody forced them. Makes me so cross. It’s utterly ridiculous and worse, – as you so eloquently point out – damaging to the author’s ratings. So sorry this happened to you, my sweet friend. You don’t deserve that kind of numbskull and nasty review. And now I have read your FB post about ‘the Zon’s’ (ha, love that!) reply, and am even more incensed on your behalf. It’s time the system changed as it isn’t helping Indie authors much at all, by the sounds of it 🙁 I hope it doesn’t happen again. I have all this to come…I will have to get tough! Love & hugs dear Deb 🙂 <3 🙂 xoxox

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for joining the conversation Sher. Sadly, this does happen to most authors – nonsensical reviews that don’t reflect what the book is about. Authors are treated like the lowest men and women on the totem pole by Amazon. It seems the customer is always right and the ones who supply Amazon’s profits have no say. That’s the way of the world it seems, it’s all about the dollars and common courtesy is thrown by the wayside. You will soon find out my friend. Yet, as writers we continue to share our words for the love of writing, certainly not for the meager crumbs we make on our books. 🙁 Love and hugs back to you my sweet friend. <3 xoxo

      • Sherri Matthews

        All about the dollars…says so much about our society in general, doesn’t it? We certainly keep writing for the love and definitely for the money, that’s for sure! Thank you for sharing this post, Deb. Who knows, maybe in time things will change…we can hope, at least 🙂 More love and hugs coming your way my lovely friend! <3 <3 <3 PS So glad my comment showed up! xoxo

  • Aquileana

    Sorry about the bad incident, Debbie… maybe the reader should see the genre or category—- it is not labeled ‘Self- help’ book, right? (As if!…😖). Anyway, I am not sure how it strictly works… but many people like to leave bad comments on, let’s say for instance, social media in general… maybe to add their dollop of false authority… (I wouldn’t call it originality, of course)…
    The bad thing is that it alters the ranking, I know… but the real thing is you don’t even know if the person in question read the book… or what triggered the respective reaction. I was thinking of Facebook, btw (I have only created a sort of ghost account there, to sign in to Tinder, but I don’t use it as Social media). I remember they have once tried to include the dislike option. They thought I it twice, and finally chosen the emojies instead. The reason behind that could have been related to the fact that they want to preserve it as a safe place… or safer, better said.
    YouTube has the dislike option, though… and one of the most famous Youtubers (Jake Paul) has millions of visits (like almost 208 M) in a song called ‘It s everyday bro’. He made tons of money with it… but the amount of dislikes (3.7 M) vs 2.5 likes—- ✋ to date. I think the song is pretty cool.. but people might hate the fact that he is rich and good looking 🤫
    Well… just a few thoughts on the whole issue… you are a great writer, so…. you shouldn’t care.
    Sending love 😘

    • dgkaye

      Hi Aqui! So nice to see you here and adding your thoughts. I agree with you, a dislike button is a bit harsh. And there are so many angry or combative people around social media. We really have to watch our words as to try and not attract such people. Some people just aren’t happy and seem to live by the adage ‘misery loves company’. A sad truth indeed. Like you mention with that popular song being disliked more than liked, books get the same treatment sometimes no matter how famous the author is. We need to be spreading positivity and love not anger and hate. <3 Love and hugs my sweet friend. xoxo

  • Deborah Jay

    I know its frustrating to have such a stupid review left, but I’ve heard you can’t really count yourself as being a truly successful author until you’ve had at least one 1* review 😀
    You see – you’ve arrived!

    • dgkaye

      Lol Deb, not sure if that makes me feel better. But I know many authors who have had those stupid reviews, irrelevant to the book’s context. 🙂

  • Holistic Wayfarer

    Just basic human courtesy, people.

    Deb, I am wondering why I am asked to fill in my ID info to be able to put up comments. I used to be able to just comment with ado.

    Hope you’re well.

    • dgkaye

      Hi Diana! Nice to see you drop by. a few months ago there are new blogging rules regarding the EU and GDPR rules. All blogs have added new policies and consent to check off. Being self hosted I had to add my own. I’m surprised you haven’t had to put in your name and website on most blogs? I’m sorry for the annoying formaility. For some reason, many bloggers who visit here just have to do it once and next time you are remembered. The odd one has to fill out every time (bummer I know.) Maybe you haven’t been here in awhile? I’m well thank you. I hope you’re doing okay, I haven’t seen you around in awhile? 🙂

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