There’s no denying that consumer reviews can either make or break a sale, especially at online retailers. Before shelling out your money, you want to know that the book is a good one. Consumer reviews can tell you what others enjoyed or disliked about a book, its weak points, etc. It’s helpful stuff, and some people choose to be the helpful review writers.
But it’s easily to give the wrong kind of TMI in reviews.
When reviews begin with remarks like, “I found this book in the 99 cent bin at my church’s annual rummage sale,” it doesn’t matter if every word that follows is glowing praise; the idea has already been planted in the minds of other potential customers that the book isn’t worth purchasing new or for more than a buck.
The funny thing is, oftentimes unhelpful phrases like these find their way into very positive reviews. The reader enjoyed the book and wants others to enjoy it too, but inadvertently turns people off and hurts the author’s sales.
I had a similar experience with one of my reviews on Amazon. When the book initially went on sale, it contained a formatting bug that didn’t show up on Kindle Previewer. Within a few days a new version of the book was uploaded and the problem was resolved. Those who had already purchased the book received emails from Amazon allowing them to download the revised copy free of charge. But one reviewer mentioned the bug in his or her comments (I guess he or she didn’t download the fixed file). The bug no longer exists, but because of one review people will think that it still does and may choose not to buy.
Writing reviews on retail sites is a wonderful way to help an author and steer customers away from products that aren’t worth the money, but be careful what you write. Don’t offer personal information that can hurt sales (such as that you bought it from a garage sale) and make sure your information is current, such as in the case of a buggy file.