This is not only a touchy subject, it's full of pot holes, snares and blind alleyways that the uninitiated ought to consider before dipping a toe inside. Then again, sometimes subtlety should just be ignored and tossed aside in favor of heartfelt expression.
First of all, let's not fool ourselves, there are simply too many 5 star book reviews that are painfully unwarranted. Take a look at the free sample chapters provided by Amazon before buying any book and it should be obvious within minutes if the product is of a sufficient quality to warrant attention and interest, or not. Then look at the reviews - all of them, including the one and two stars. No single product appeals to everyone, it's just not possible. But honest, well-worded reviews help by providing an indication of what can be expected.
There are lots of valid points that have been made on this subject and I have no intention of disputing any of them. But take a moment to consider one woman's comments and feel her frustration. She thought she needed reviews to kick start the process and embarked down that path. It was a natural reaction after visiting sites where offers of performing reviews are everywhere. She did and was then criticized for doing so by fellow authors.
And why shouldn’t she take this route? Is not validation the very first step toward recognition? How many people are willing to buy anything that has not been tested to some degree or another? And who wants to be the one to venture into the unknown and buy the work of some unknown author with nothing but empty stars sitting in painful silence beside their lovingly created, and hopefully (but often not) well crafted work?
The sorry fact is that people tend to follow like sheep and go with the herd.
Someone recently claimed that sales are the only true indication of a book's value, not reviews. I am not sure I agree having read one very successful book that is presently being turned into a movie. The writing was awful and the story weak, but somehow it captured the attention of sufficient number of people that the mindless sheep followed on, therefore assuring what many others consider unjustifiable success.
How many academy award films are truly deserving? It all depends on your interest in the subject, the actors and dare I say it, the reviews that captivate, propel, put off, or virtually ensure success, or failure.
Do sales volumes of other products guarantee quality? Apparently not when the staggering number of recalls for vehicles or contaminated consumables are publicized for all to see.
So what should this lady and every other struggling to emerge author do? Is she wrong in thinking that a honest review wouldn’t help bring her out of the darkness and into the light? And if not reviews, what is the correct, acceptable way? Is there even one and as she herself asked, should she keep writing at all?
That question is something only she can answer.