The Hazards of Offering a Book for Free…

It’s probably because I’ve spent a lot of time at the dentist lately, but I seem to be in a grouchy mood and more eager than usual to climb up on my soapbox. But what are blogs for, Fellow Bloggers, if not to vent?

First of all, as I’ve posted before, when I offered “The Love of a Cowboy” for free for five days on Amazon, an unbelievable number of people downloaded it. I’m very grateful that so many people had an interest in the book. The “free book” promotion produced a much better result than I expected.

Even so, today, I’m ranting about Amazon reader reviews. As much as I love the people who take the time to write them, I’m amazed by some of the things they write.

This one, for example, showed up night before last:

“1.0 out of 5 stars Uninteresting, August 19, 2012  By “tom”

This review is from: The Love of a Cowboy (Kindle Edition)

Less than half star for originality. Nobody but Texas bible toting Republicans in a dream talk or live like this.”

Now I ask you. What does this mean? And what is this poster’s motive? I clicked on his link to see his other reviews. He’s made 5-star comments on two non-fiction books about bleeding heart causes, which probably support his political opinions.

No doubt he downloaded the Cowboy book because it was free, but why did he bother to read a fictional romance novel? Furthermore, politics is not a part of this story and neither is religion and he should have been able to spot that on about Page 5.

So, I’m filing his review along with some others that said things like, “What does this author have against fat people?” ….. “This author’s treatment of a character who suffered from FAS was offensive” … And the one who gave it one star because it had too much sex.

I asked Amazon to take the one about “Republican bible thumpers in a dream” down, but they wouldn’t.

On the upside, another reader posted a 5-star review just above “tom’s”.

This is one of the hazards of so many people downloading a book when their only interest in it is the fact that it’s free. I’m not complaining about that. I like free books. I download free books myself. If I don’t like them, I simply stop reading them and start something else. I don’t feel a need to go on Amazon or Goodreads or some other venue and trash the author.

I do have to admit that when it comes to reviews, my books have generated some far-out criticism. Much harsher than most romance novels and I’m not sure why. The premise from which I write a story is how ordinary people handle sudden and out-of-the-ordinary circumstances, with a little romance and a few steamy love scenes thrown in. None of that seems controversial or venom-inspiring to me. Jodi Picoult does the same thing, but without the romance. My books seem to arouse downright anger in some readers. So I go back to my original question: If they hate the book so much, why read it?

I’ve developed a pretty thick hide over the years. As Nora Roberts said once, hateful reviews are like someone slapping your kid. If I couldn’t swallow the criticism and move on, I’d just have to give up writing. I guess the balm comes from readers like “SNOONIE,” who made a nice comment and gave it 5 stars.

So thank you SNOONIE and all other reader reviewers who made nice comments.



Filed under Books and Reading

18 responses to “The Hazards of Offering a Book for Free…

  1. Like you, I don’t understand why readers continue reading if they hate the book. I also download free books and have discovered some terrific new authors that way. Those I haven’t enjoyed, I stop reading, delete the book, and move on.


  2. This is surprising since this is one of my favorite books – ever. I read it years ago and downloaded it for free again since I had the paperback version originally. Guess I’ll just have to go up and put a review that is really about the book!

    Amazon reviews can be very strange – I’ve seen all kinds of comments up there that were so out of synch with the book.


    • Hi, Marie, and thanks for your comment. I know what you mean about the Amazon reviews. On one of my books, a reader wrote a tacky review, then said at the end she preferred historicals and didn’t like contemporaries. I wonder why she wasted her time. …. Then there was the one who said she hadn’t read the book yet, but intended to, so she gave is 4 stars. ….. As I said to Caroline above, you never know what people are bringing to the table.

      Good to hear from you. Thanks for stopping by the blog.
      Anna J


  3. Anna, I Love, Love, Love all your books. If those nay-sayers didn’t like your book, they should have just closed the book and moved on. You are a wonderful writer and I wouldn’t change your stories for anything…please keep them coming.
    Love sent your way…Kathi


  4. Pat Roggendorf

    I loved this book but I love reading and I love reading your books. Don’t worry your up there with the best. Please keep writing romance and love. Thanks for such wonderful entertainment. Pat

    Sent from my iPad


  5. Marian Johnson

    I have all of your books and I bought them I didn’t wait for free downloads and I love them. you can’t please everybody so ignor them I am eagerly awaiating your next book. I have all the Dixie cash books in paperbacks.
    Marian Johnson


    • Hi, Marian. No one knows more than I that you can’t please everyone. One of the eye-opening facts I hadn’t thought of before I started writing and publishing books was just how much criticism you let yourself in for. But so far, the joy of doing it has overridden the criticism, so I’ve simply become tougher. I would just add to that by saying by the time you’ve been through the New York publishing mill, you’ve become a duck’s back or else. Thanks so much for reading the books.


  6. Donna

    I too love, love love your books. People who write reviews like that (in my opinion) are just trying to call attention to THEMSELVES. Any intelligent person who doesn’t like a book (especially a free one) simply doesn’t read it! Your books are great, don’t change a thing.


  7. Peggy

    Tom is like so many who use their electronic devices to make rude remarks that he/she would not say if face-to-face. Critics abound in our society today. You are a talented writer. Let those comments slide…………TV shows aren’t worth the electricity or air time, so keep those books coming.


  8. Kerstin

    The lack of civility we encounter today does take one’s breath away. Ad hominem insults are part of a gutter mentality that shames them regardless of whether they even realize or care about the consequences of their dispicable behavior. Let them fall on their own swords.


  9. I am in shock ! How anyone can read the Love of a Cowboy and give it a bad rating is beyond me. They must not know a good book if it slapped them in the face. I love your books and look forward to reading all that you can produce. I would say to these negative people “if you can’t say something good, then keep your mouth shut” !


  10. I think the anonymity of such reviews (as well as the internet in general) leads to some people being so much more disagreeable and disrespectful than they ever would in person! I agree with you– to paraphrase Thumper, “if I can’t say something nice, I don’t say nothing at all….”

    That said, I love your books… and have hooked my 2 daughters on them, too…. we are all dying to know– when is the next Dixie Cash book coming out? We need our Domestic Equalizer fix!!!


    • Hi, Donna. Indeed the Internet has produced some strange animals. I used to pop off more than I do now about this or that, but knowing that once you put the written word on the Internet, it’s there for the ages, I try to think twice about what I say.
      Thanks for stopping by and thanks for your support.
      Anna J


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