It’s All In The Review–Maybe Not!

Sebastien WiertzPublished in The Albert Lea Tribune week of May 25, 2016. Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

Do you leave reviews for your favorite spaces and places? In the olden days we had to rely on newspaper advertisements and radio advertisements to find if the places we wanted to shop or dine were good establishments to visit. Or businesses had to rely on the word-of-mouth of customers who had used their establishment.

Things have changed and now businesses and other venues can be reviewed online by those who loved their services or did not have a good experience. Places such as Yelp.com, Angieslist.com, tripadvisor.com and many others, along with the buzz of Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and the other gazillion sites out there will tell you the ups and downs of places and products. And if you are a business in a small community and think you are safe from these reviews — well think again — you are probably listed somewhere out there.

Most businesses now have their own websites and Facebook pages and customers also leave reviews on these pages. Can you rely on these reviews?
Recently a friend and I were in Shakopee, and we were dining out. We chose a restaurant in downtown Shakopee. We checked out the reviews and most were positive. Many stated fast service.

We arrived and the place was packed and very busy. We were on a tight schedule and thought perhaps we wouldn’t be served and out in time to make our movie. The reviews were right. We had excellent, fast service and our waitress was outstanding. She earned a big tip. In that case the reviews could be trusted.

In the olden days when we wanted to check out a product we possibly would buy the Consumer Reports Magazine. These days, if we want to investigate a product we can go online and find the reviews for the model we want to buy. I always check the reviews before I buy. As an author, book reviews on my books by my readers are very important to me. If I want to advertise my book on a book site or in a magazine, the key to acceptance in many places are the reviews on your books and the number of reviews you have. So for me and other authors, reviews are important.

Bigger companies take reviews seriously. I have a friend who reviews products for companies that are sold on Amazon. The companies send her products; she reviews them on Amazon honestly and reveals she has been given a product to review. I know I can trust her reviews.

When you are reading reviews on anything, please take the time to consider those reviews and the person making the statements. A product, website or even books that have 100 percent five star reviews are not always what they seem. Can all people love the products? A few bad reviews are not necessarily a bad thing. It means the reviews are by real consumers and not a paid review. Yes, there are places where you can pay to buy reviews.

When reading a bad review, take time to investigate who is leaving the review and why; there are people out there who leave bad reviews just to leave bad reviews. There are people out there who don’t like any products. Also a review is one person’s opinion.

For instance, two and three star reviews on movies and books do not always deter me. I look at the reviewer’s history of reviews and see perhaps the items this person gave three star reviews to be because their taste was of different genres than the movie or book being reviewed. They have different tastes.
I myself would not give a five-star review to a bloody, gory movie or to a graphic book. It is not my cup of tea. But my review would be constructive rather than destructive. Always remember there is a person behind the product and they have feelings too especially if you are reviewing a book or a blog.

Reviews are also a way businesses can improve their services if the review is fair and constructive. For instance, I have had some landscape work done and I am not exactly a happy camper. I feel I am not being listened to. When all is said and done I will leave a review online but I won’t trash the people or the business but I will leave constructive comments that may help them improve other people’s experience with this company. The thing to remember is this is my experience; someone else may have had a great experience with the same company.

The same can be said for other businesses that get a bad review — perhaps the business was just having an off day or the customer was having an off day.

If I positively do not like a book and don’t finish it I don’t leave a review at all. It might not have been my cup of tea but someone else will love it.

The best negative review I received on one of my books was this, “The author must have scrambled eggs for brains. She writes like Dr. Seuss.” I loved this person’s negativity.

Review away, make someone’s day. Be positive or constructive but don’t be destructive.

– See more at: http://www.albertleatribune.com/2016/05/be-constructive-not-negative-in-reviews/#sthash.7LF7o4LH.dpuf

Science Fiction or a Cozy Read?

shot glassI like unbelievable characters. Perhaps that is why some of the characters in my books seem unbelievable to some people.

I recently received a review of someone that  liked my book, Granny Hooks A Crook  and gave it a good review but weren’t sure about the reality of the characters. They felt that the main character, Granny possibly belonged in a science fiction book. Perhaps she does. She would find that a lot of fun. I can just see her battling King Kong or the Lochness Monster or the future space invaders that may come to our earth. She would figure out some way to get the aliens behind bars. I find that fantasy in fiction can be fun if the reader relaxes and enjoys the ride.

Perhaps it is a quirky part of my personality that likes books that make life into an unbelievable fantasy. Don’t we have enough reality in our world today? We need to relax and let our imaginations take root. Perhaps that is why I like the Harry Potter Series so much. When I watch the movies and read the books, I marvel at the creativity of the creator, J.K. Rowling. What was supposed to be a kid’s fantasy quickly turned into being loved by adults too. We loved I Love Lucy and she was as wacky as the Granny in my books. We loved the Golden Girls who got themselves into some unusual antics too. Let’s not forget about Granny of the Beverly Hillbillies. We watched because we wanted to laugh and watch the unbelievable. And maybe those of us that are older wanted to shed the expectations that were put on us all of lives and have fun with what is left of it.

There is a little part in many of us that would love to be that character in the book or on the screen because they are having so much fun. Are the antics of the silly characters in our books and television series actually so off the mark or do we not let the antics that are inside of us out because we want to be accepted by society?

Recently there was study done on  longevity and it found that the seniors that could also belong in a science fiction movie. It is a fictional town that makes a little fun of the rules that govern our real communities. It makes fun of the rules and regulations that we need to make society work, but that occasionally are carried too far and stifle community. Fuchsia doesn’t conform and neither do it’s residents. What holds Fuchsia apart and together in the midst of the lackadaisical rules is the fact that the quirky residents accept each others flaws and unique personalities and lets them embrace their differences. Who wouldn’t like that in the real world?

Fuchsia has it’s flaws, and it has it’s crime but the residents come together always supporting one another. They live, they love, they laugh, they get in trouble and they embrace different.

I do quirky things. I can have coffee and donuts and ice cream in the morning if I want. I forget where I parked my car. I get scared. I have been known to drop to the floor on occasion and start exercising to make a point for something. I can do the unexpected. I come from a family of quirky ladies and I like it. I wish I would have let it show sooner. You might have met Granny earlier.

But if you are wondering if Granny is going to shed the science fiction or fantasy label in her next book I will tell you, she is not. I will also tell you that you will see why Granny is the way she is. Granny will reveal why she has a sense of humor and what makes Granny hurt, cry and love. She would want you to know that before she kicks the bucket. Stay tuned.