As a reader I do allow reviews to sway my decision-making process. If I see a book with a hundred great reviews, and maybe only one bad review, I'll sample the book to see if it'd be something I'd be interested in. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. It's more often than not that a bad review will push me over the edge to hit that One-Click option, more than a good review will.
I'll give you an example, a friend of mine gushed for months about the Twilight series. Told me they were the greatest books of all time and that I just HAD to read them. The movies were on the way to the theater and, as I'm not one to follow trends until they're way out of style, I was a bit hesitant about seeing them. I asked her to tell me the story line, which she did. I have to admit I was intrigued. She loaned me all four books and I made a weekend out of them.
As I read them, I was hoping to get to the juicy bits. The good stuff my friend had gushed about - but sadly I couldn't find them. All I kept reading was some whiny teenage girl drone on and on about how beautiful the Cullin family was and how clumsy she was. It irritated me, but I pushed forward. That is until I got to the 4th book, Breaking Dawn. When, completely out of left field, the POV changed. I threw the book to the floor. I was bitter and angry because my friend hadn't told me it did that and I felt totally blind-sided. While I hadn't been enjoying the books completely, and was drudging through them just to say I read them, I was angry that the author would just up and switch POV in the last book. That's a huge no-no. I don't care if a book changes POV throughout the novel and continues to do so throughout the series, don't get me wrong. But why did this author have to do it in the last book, in the middle of the story? If she could make a POV shift with her Midnight Sun book (telling the Twilight story in Edward's POV), why couldn't she have done the same thing for Breaking Dawn. It would have made the book much smaller and, in my opinion, easier to read. Not to mention (since her publisher is obviously money-grubbing considering they're now selling illustrated versions, and everything from dishtowels to furniture with the Twilight emblem) it would have made them more money because it'd be another book for all the teeny-boppers to swallow up. I'm surprised they haven't released Midnight Sun. Can someone say...Ka-ching!?
But enough about that. So here I sit, as a reader who depends on reviews (and enjoys reading bad reviews, as I'm more than likely to purchase them), and as a writer wondering where all the reviews are for The Kindness of Strangers. It has officially sold over 1000 copies since it's publication, yet there are only about 8 reviews posted on various sites. Is it because it hasn't been read and sitting on a lot of TBR lists? Is it because it's incredibly horrible that most of the purchasers are my peers, and they're afraid of posting an honest review because they're afraid they'll hurt my feelings?
*shrugs* I don't know. All I can say is, I have a thick-skin. It comes from being an abused child. I've learned to build up barriers and block things out. But as someone who wishes to learn, I thrive on constructive criticism. I can handle reviews even if they say, 'This book sucks, don't waste your money.' I'm ok with that. What I can't handle is silence. It leaves me wondering if I'm coming or going, and as a foster child when I was ignored and the room was silent, I knew only bad things were going to come.
So here is my plea ... if you have purchased the Kindness of Strangers, don't be afraid to leave your honest review. If you felt it was worth 1 or 2 stars, that's ok. Reviews aren't for me unless there's something in there that I can learn from in it. Otherwise reviews are for future readers. One reviewer stated my book had severe grammatical errors and hack-eyed phrases. I gobbled that review up and went through the entire book, fixing what I could. I even had someone offer to edit it for me, and I gladly accepted. Right now the edited copy is available for purchase. If there are still issues, I only ask that someone tell me so I can keep progressing. So that I can always keep learning. I'm not perfect and I'm sure neither is my story.