Do we want them? Of course we do.
Good ones boost our egos and sometimes our ratings. But how many people actually spend hours reading all the reviews a book has before buying it? No one that I know. I know I don't use reviews to sway whether or not I'll buy a book. What one person loves, another will hate so why should my decision be made by the masses?
Bad ones if done the way they are supposed to, are vital to an author. I for one care more about the professionally written 1-3 star reviews than I do about the nonsensical 4-5 star reviews. Why? It's simple, a low rated review if done professionally will offer the author tips and suggestions on ways to make the book better, whether there be editing flaws, grammatical ones the editor, author, and beta readers all missed, etc. Errors happen, it's rare that an author will find ALL the errors in their work because they are blinded by it. An author is not neutral when it comes to their own work no matter how much they will say they are. That's why I don't read my own work.. I write it, skim through it for red, green, and blue squigglies, fix what I spot, then hand it over to the neutral parties that are paid to fix it.
If my team of beta readers, who are most assuredly reading more than just my book, and my editor who is on his own timeline and has to edit not only mine but everyone in the company's books, miss something, then it falls to the consumer to point out the errors we missed.
Reviewers who simply trash the work as a whole without seeing anything more than the errors are NOT helpful. Not at all, they in fact hinder things and some authors give up writing all together because the hurtful words of the reviewer do that much damage.
When a person reads a book, of course look to see if errors are there, point them out professionally in the review, then rate the book based on the story itself. Errors can easily be corrected if we know they're there. A 1 star review based solely on the amount of errors in a book can't be. So the next time you review, take a minute before you press publish on Amazon, or B&N, Smashwords, GoodReads, or even your own blogs, take a minute and ask yourself if the STORY, not the errors, but the actual story deserves to be ranked so low.
This is an area I am quite adamant about. Why buy a book if you're just going to return it? If you fully intend to read and review it why return it? Now I get there are accidents. I myself have accidentally bought a book thinking it was another book. I'm not referring to those errors. I'm not referring to the accidental purchase when you meant to download a sample either. I'm talking about the people that instead of just buying an Amazon Prime Membership which would turn amazon's kindle selection into their own personal library, will instead buy a book and then return it right before the refund deadline. It's wrong and it hurts the people who poured blood, sweat, tears, and souls into the book. Put yourself in their shoes, would you want something to do that to you? And while those of you who are unpublished are sitting there laughing, or saying you wouldn't care, the fact of the matter is, you would. Think about what you do for a living, whatever it is you sell for whoever, what if thousands of people bought your product, then returned it for no reason. Obviously it wasn't damaged, or broken, but it had served its purpose and those people decided they simply didn't want it anymore. It would not only hurt your feelings, it would hurt your pride, and it would make you question your work. "Is it bad? It has to be bad if all these people are returning it... Should I even bother making another one?" These just a few of the thoughts that go through any creator's head when there are returns. Please I implore you to put yourself in their shoes when you consider returning a book that you more than likely enjoyed getting lost in.
Why? Why the hell would anyone with a brain make their work exclusive to Amazon just for a handful of free days? Amazon is NOT the place to make your work exclusive. If you plan on doing tours and have to dish out copies to Reviewers.. you have to pay for said copies and gift them. Why lose all that money just for 5 free days?
My book will most assuredly be offered on Smashwords without a doubt. Not only will I not have to gift my book (which hello gifting costs YOU money) I will be giving my reviewers another venue to place reviews by going through Smashwords and obtaining a purchase code. The purchase code costs the author nothing and it allows reviewers to place their reviews on smashwords who, like Kobo, only allow reviews from purchases made there.
"But Amazon is so well known!" It's so well known because everyone opts to use them falling for their ridiculous free day scam. Amazon will let you post a review on a product so long as you have bought at least one thing off their site, so will B&N, and so will iTunes.
Free days do NOT help you! They do not add to your sales rating since they aren't considered sales.
If you're going to make a book free.. then make ONE book free.. catch new fans with the ONE book... Trust me if they like the book they'll want to read more of it. I myself have a crap ton of kindle books and admittedly they all cost me nothing.. Well 95% of them were free, the rest I bought or they are ARCs, If I read it and like it, I BUY the book along with all the others in print. Any author that knows me knows I live for my signed print collection. They can all attest to the mile long "I must have signed print" list I have too which gets books added to it almost daily. There's no reason to have your entire series free and most certainly not at the same time. You'll never get a high sales rating that way. Are you that much in doubt of your own work that you'd rather give Amazon complete control over the stories YOU have created? The stories YOU worked months or years on? The stories YOU wanted to share with the world? If you doubt your work that much... Perhaps writing isn't for you.
Me personally? once The Dawning of the Three comes out, I intend to price The Rise of Xosha as low as possible, even free if I can permanently. Every other book in the series will NEVER be free. They will cost roughly 4-5 dollars and not a cent less than that because I worth so much more than nothing. The prequel will be as low as possible simply to lure people to the series, to get them excited about it. Once they read it, if they like it, they'll want to read the others, and so they'll buy them.
But like I've said over and over, I don't write to make money. Any money I make from my books will more than likely go to paying for my covers, and for buying new print books.
If my book never does well, so long as one person reads it and sees what I saw when I wrote it, that is my fortune. That would make me happier than all the money in the world.
I'm done with my little rant now.... Please take my words into consideration...