One-Review Reviewers Are People, Too
For those not familiar with this topic, let me explain: Some people assume that reviewers with only one posted review on a site must be fake.
While I don't disagree this isn't ever the case, I have a few counter arguments:
Friends and family. This is the primary accusation, but I have to wonder why friends and family opinions don't count in the big world of reviewing? Just because the author got to know this person during mini-golf team building day at work, that coworker's thoughts are suddenly null and void? What about said coworker's mother? Her friend from gin night? How many degrees of separation do we have to go before opinions matter again? Kevin Bacon?
I don't know about your friends and family, but mine are pretty freakin' busy. When and if they read my work--let alone feel inclined to publicly say something nice about it--I'm beyond flattered. Their opinion shouldn't censored because they happen to eat dinner with me sometimes.
Actually, if you want to get down to it, discounting the opinion of people who do know the author is pretty hypocritical when the book community, in general, tends to be very concerned with what sort of "person" the author is. It's kind of like putting references on a resume: all the interviewer wants to know is that someone, somewhere, is willing to say nice things about you.
New to a network. But let's move on to other less-biased, but still realistic, scenarios where a reviewer might not have many or any other reviews. First off, being new to a network. Let's see one potential situation play out:
Reviewer: Hi Author, I read your book and I really loved it!
Author: Thanks! Very happy to hear that my mental issues brought some entertainment!
Reviewer: Yes, I can't wait to share my review on my blog!
Author: That is great! If you are on GoodReads, I would be very appreciative if you would post your review there too, but it's entirely up to you.
Reviewer: Oh, I've heard of that place. I hear it's full of muck. I will check it out, anyway.
Reviewer: Hi Author! I went to GoodReads and it is, indeed, full of muck. I posted my review of your book there though.
Author: Thank you! I hope you were able to get the muck off easily enough. I suggest mental bleach and a few therapy sessions.
Reviewer: I might go back after I've had some vodka, but I'm not sure.
Reviewer discovers Farmville.
Recruited Elsewhere. So, check this out: not every author goes through established reviewers to get reviews. I know, the concept is a little horrifying that everyone should be entitled to an opinion. Sometimes, authors meet reviewers on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or heck, that weird thing called "in real life" (or, it's more familiar form, IRL). Sometimes, said people are really thrilled to get a free book that interests them. They don't get scores of free books because--let's say it all together now--they're not established reviewers. Hence the lack of other reviews. But they think the book was cool, the author was cool, the gift was cool, so sure, they'll post their thoughts and then probably never come back, because Farmville.
"Nag" emails. I once reviewed a flag. Not kidding. A flag. My fiance is from another country and still has much of his family there. When we moved into our new place, I thought it would be nice to hang both the US and Bangladesh flag. There aren't scores of Bangaldeshi flags being sold around Arizona, so I went to my ol' buddy, Amazon, to hook it up. A few weeks later, I received an email asking how I was liking the flag. It seemed to be a decent enough flag. Made of fabric. Sways in the breeze. So I clicked the link, wrote something along that line, and moved on.
This can happen with books too. Maybe they just bought that one book. Maybe they just felt click-y and write-y enough to type up a review at the time they received the nag email. Look, I will probably never review a flag again, but you know what? I totally bought and used that flag. No fakin' it here for some devious master plot regarding flag ratings.
While we're on the topic of what counts as a "fake reviewer," I would also like to point out that the lack of an avatar means nothing. My fiance doesn't have an avatar on his Facebook page, but I'm pretty sure--judging by the laundry and dishes and body lying in the same bed--he's a real person. I asked him about this lack of avatar thing. His answer? "Meh."
I think that probably speaks for most people who don't have a default image.
As I said, fake reviews do happen, both negative and positive, and for a variety of reasons. But I do think we, as a whole, are way too quick to assume a review doesn't count simply because it doesn't meet some weird expectations we've developed.
But if you don't want to take my word for it that this flag totally sways in the breeze, that's really your loss.
About the Author:
Rainy Kaye is an aspiring overlord. In the mean time, she blogs at Rainy of The Dark, and and writes paranormal novels from her lair somewhere in Phoenix, Arizona.
When not plotting world domination, she enjoys getting lost around the globe, studying music so she can sing along with symphonic metal bands, and becoming distracted by Twitter.
She is represented by Rossano Trentin of TZLA.