Weekend Wrap-up: My first 1-Star review!

It was bound to happen. Not everyone is going to enjoy every author’s books. But I have to admit, my heart dropped a bit when I saw the rating.

1.0 out of 5 stars Boring Stories
Reviewed in the United States on July 10, 2021
Boring stories that don’t draw in the reader. Nothing really interesting happens.

Can I dispute the review? Not really, since this is the opinion of an individual, and there is nothing that I can say except thank them for their honesty. I suppose I could ask the question. “Did you read the whole thing?”

Hard to say. Here’s the KDP graphic:

Someone read the whole book on Kindle Unlimited on June 4th, and someone purchased the Kindle version on July 3rd.

I also took a look at what other books they reviewed to see what they enjoy. There wasn’t any other science fiction there, so I suppose it isn’t a surprise they did not care for it. It would have been nice to have my book turn them on to the genre, though.

On the plus side, it does give credibility to the reviews, not being all 5-Star glowing/gushing.

Hey, wait! I’m working on a straight! I just need a 2-star and I’m all in! No poker face here…

Am I over it?



From my blog this week

Thursday Thoughts: Recipes – Just a serving suggestion? – I can’t remember what I wrote (and why), and I don’t feel like looking. Wow. That’s lazy, Leon.

Weird Wednesday: Spectator Sports – Hey look! The Olympics are on now.

Tuesday Tidbits: Weathering the Weather – Hot, hot, hot.

Monday Musings: Author’s Comments – Commenting on reviews

From other blogs:

Friday Review Share – Stevie’s weekly contribution to the author community.

My First Blog Interview – Not mine, Pete’s.

poem-other places – A very apt poem about the fire situation in BC.

Defining Moments – FromCavewalls

diversity in books // book talk #1 – A very good topic.

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

Purchase paperback directly for the author!

Monday Musings: Author’s Comments

I recently ran a promo with Itsy Bitsy Book Bits which gave their pool of reviewers free access to my poetry book. I unfortunately did not see any sales, but the reviews that I received put my BookBub total to 21, Goodreads to 37, and Amazon to 14. This made me ponder the appropriateness of author’s commenting on reviews.

There was a post about this a few months ago. I posted two questions in some Goodreads groups, but have had little feedback.

Authors: Do you comment on the reviews that you receive?

Readers: Do you like when authors respond to your review?

I have replied to many of my reviews in the past. My thinking that it is a personal touch that connects the two parties. In some reviews there have been questions or comments that I thought deserved a follow up. I have “liked” some reviews in the past, but maybe that’s bordering on arrogant?  

I don’t think that it is appropriate if an author retaliates for a poor review. It has probably happened, though I have never seen it. If a reader pans an author’s book, they are not expecting a scathing retort, they are voicing their opinion—which is the purpose of reviews.

The other dilemma is if you comment on one and not the other, does that hurt a reader’s feelings? If you are an author, you probably re-read your reviews, but as a reader, do you post and forget or do you look at other’s reviews after the fact?

Just some thoughts to mull over. What do you think?


Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

Purchase paperback directly for the author!

Tuesday Tirade: ROI

Angry cats are funnier than angry dogs…

So this is not really going to be a tirade, but I wanted to use the cat because he/she/it makes me chuckle.

My mailing list has two groups, regular readers who have downloaded one of my sample books, and reviewers. The main body is the same, but the reviewers get reminders and review links.

Of the two, the reviewer group has the lower open rate. Much lower. With no new reviews coming in I decided to merge the two.

I had a good email conversation with the owner of one of the review platform that I had used, inquiring about the typical review rates of the participants. He was forthright about it and said it usually runs between 5-10%.

So, that’s what I have been experiencing, and I’m glad he was honest. I put my participation on hold, while I re-thought my strategy. I decided that the rate was too low because it means that 90% of readers who receive a free book from me do it for the free book.

Authors want a ROI (return on investment) on their marketing budget which I wrote about here:
Book Marketing: Spend money, make money?  and here:
Amazon Ads: Here, Mr. Bezos, take my money and run.

When if comes to free books, whether short sample copies or review copies, getting the book into the hands of new readers is good exposure, if – and it’s a big if, they write a review, tell someone else, share their opinion on social media, or in the case of sample copies, buy the full book.

I stated in my review expectations, the I was hoping for a 4 week time frame, and always appreciated when reviewers informed me that they were done, needed more time, or decided that they were not going to leave a review.  

On the plus-side, I cut down how much I have to write each week.


Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

Purchase paperback directly for the author!

Review Platforms: Take my free books, please.

I have written several posts about reviews. It can be one of the most frustrating aspects of being an author. Many platforms are set up to guide readers to free review copies, and even though they say that reviews are not guaranteed, one would think that if someone downloads your review copy from a book reviewer site, there should be some expectation of a review. So, I have tried a few sites with limited success. More on that later.

I always sent out a welcome email, thanking the reader. Here is what I say:

To all reviewers,

Thank you for your interest in reviewing my books. As readers, you are so important to new independent authors as your reviews allow us to compete with the multitude of other authors, signed and unsigned. We have found each other through various book platforms. Some of my early subscribers are taking advantage of my free book offer for reviews. 

Reviews do not have to be long. Even one or two sentences can attract new readers, and at the very least, a star rating would be appreciated. As for the timeline, I’m hoping that they can be done within 4 weeks of receiving your review copy. (Note: I don’t think 4 weeks is unreasonable)

For some of you, that 4 weeks is getting close. Let me know if you need more time. If you had any difficulty downloading a book, please email me with your preferred format: PDF, ePub, Mobi.

When you have completed your review, please let me know so that I can link it to my website. If you choose not to leave a review for any reason, could you please inform me, and I will remove you from the list.

Here are the review links. Please leave a review on any (or all) of the sites. As my science fiction book is only available on Amazon at the moment, that would be my preference if you are just going to post on one.

I put direct links here to make it easy!

Final Note: Word of mouth is the best form of advertising, so if you enjoyed the books, please tell your friends and family and share the review on your social media!  

End of letter.

I think that it covers my expectations and empowers the reviewer to submit whatever form they wish. I added the part about not leaving a review because it is frustrating to not hear from them and I don’t want to keep sending reminders. I appreciate honesty over being ‘ghosted’.

Here are the results:

Platform A: Voracious Readers
Round One - Free trial
20 readers = 3 reviews

Round Two - 6 week promo, now pay/reader
30 readers  = 2 Reviews so far

Platform B: Booksprout - Free
3 readers = 1 review

Platform C: StoryOrigin - Free Beta version, transitioning to paid
8 readers = 3 reviews

Platform D: Library Thing  -Free
12 readers = 3 reviews

Platform E: Sandra’s Book Club - Free
3 Readers = 0 review

Platform F: Reedsy - Paid
1 review

Platform G: Goodreads – Free
7 readers = 5 reviews  - GRs takes a lot of work, finding the review groups and threads.

I suspect that most readers are in it for the free books (as you can see by the stats), which is disheartening, as it does feel like you are getting taken advantage of.

What has your experience been?


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C’mon, space stuff!

The Importance of Reviews

(The Ongoing Journey of a Writer)

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” What’s going to make you pick it up?

How do people choose the books they read? Some will stick to the authors they like to read, an interesting cover can make you choose a book-or at least read the blurb before deciding “Meh.” But the driving force behind the success of books are positive reviews.

How do you get reviews? Get your books in the hands of readers. How do you get readers to want to read your book? Get reviews. Hey, wait a minute! That’s a Catch-22. You bet. I think of it like a new restaurant. You might be wary to give it a try until someone says that the food is good/amazing.

Here’s another restaurant analogy: If you don’t know about it, you are not going to go, are you? So, businesses advertise. It is important for new authors to advertise. to say, “Here I am! Check me out!” (I don’t know why I’m shouting…no one likes to be yelled at.)

Word of mouth is the least expensive form of advertising. If someone likes your book they will probably tell one of their friends, because we all get asked the question, “Read any good books lately?” And if we have, we will reply, “Yeah, you have to read [insert name of awesome book here]!” There was a commercial in the 80’s that had the line: I told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on. Want to do the math? You should, its pretty cool. (I might do a math post in the future)

There are many sites that feature reviews of books, each having its merits and loyal followers. It’s easy to picture readers scrolling through books and not stopping on books with no reviews, but those 4 and 5 stars really catch your eye, don’t they?

Reviews will drive sales, which is what authors want. But reviews also give affirmation that what we are doing as writers has merit and makes a difference in the lives of our readers. I want to share some of the words that have made me proud of what I have done:

Thank you so much for the beautiful poem, it was very touching and your words have a healing effect.”  

I have loved reading this book. It has given me what I needed the most. It is a very charming book!

A very charming, witty and entertaining book of short poems and pictures about… everything in life. It was fun to read and I believe it would make a great gift for poetry lovers.

I know I will reread this book as I do most of my poem collection because the simple act of reading poetry makes me grow and change as a person, so each reading is an unique experience.

This book of poems was very intriguing. It made me stop and think—and, sometimes, stop and laugh

To be honest, I found it a breath of fresh air and it was a joy to read.

And reviews also confirm that everything is subjective:

I thought the pieces in this collection were mostly okay. I’ve read much better but there are much worse collections out there.” (Well I’m glad I’m not the worst.)

I didn’t get it.” (OK, a little out of context, but kinda funny.)

Overall, I have neutral feelings about this poetry collection… Perhaps it just wasn’t for me.” (Exactly, I can’t make someone like my books.)

IF you have been following my writing, you know that I enjoy humor, so when I put together my free eBook with selected works, I decided to have some fun with it and put this on the first page:

There’s fake news, then there’s fake testimonials…
What people are saying about “Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures”

“Opening this book is like looking into the head of Leon. It’s a little odd…”
 -Noel Snevets

“It kept my interest and it keeps my coffee mug off the table.”
– Elon Ven Sets

“Just when you think you’ve had enough, you haven’t!”
 -Lone Vessnet

“I had to ask myself, where has this book been? I then realized it had slipped under the sofa.”
  – Olen Nessvet

“Wow. Just, wow. Wait, what was the question?”

  –  A. Prime

In conclusion (What? Am I writing a thesis?), as a reader, please don’t underestimate the power of your words. Reviews don’t have to to be long-just honest.