Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

There was a post today on the Amazon Romance forums claiming that all the five-star reviews for Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold are by people who have only posted that one review (or only reviews for my books). The implication, of course, was that those reviews by people who haven’t posted many reviews aren’t worthy of consideration. My reaction was an indignant, That’s not true! Right after that doubt set in. I knew it wasn’t absolutely true, but how true was it? In almost every book forum I’m in, I see posts about how the Amazon reviews are so tainted by this, that and the next thing that you can’t trust them.

I must admit to being blithely ignorant of all this until I published a book. As a reader, if a book’s description caught my eye, I’d go to the product page and maybe read a review or two. The overall rating mattered more to me than any one individual review unless that review said something that pushed my own particular buttons. Since Kindle, the sample has become the final decider, but the description still has to pull me in. It never occurred to me to check out a reviewer to see if I thought they met some standard that made their opinion worthy or not. But this is my book and the accusation rankled, so I took the time to go through every single blessed one of the 48 reviews for Eyes and look up the other reviews of each reviewer. I am grateful for and do feel blessed for every single review too.

What I found struck me as interesting. As shown on its product page, Eyes has 48 reviews:

1 one star
1 two star
1 three star
3 four star
42 five star

Dividing these into categories as to whether the reviewer had only ever reviewed Eyes (or only reviewed my books); reviewed 2-5 books (which could include 1 of mine); or reviewed 6 or more books, I came up with the following:

the one-star reviewer is in the 2-5 category
the two-star reviewer is in the 2-5 category
the three-star reviewer is in the 1 review only category
1 of the four-star reviewers is in the 1 review only category
2 of the four-star reviewers are in the over 6 category
12 of the five stars are in the one review only category
10 of the five stars are in the 2-5 review category
20 of the five stars are the in over 6 category

So if you say only reviews by people who have reviewed 6 or more books are worth noting, then Eyes would have 20 five stars and 2 four stars, for an average of 4.9.

If you say only reviews by people who have reviewed more than one book are worth noting, then Eyes would have 30 five stars, 2 four stars, 1 two star, and 1 one star, for an average of 4.7.

I did the same lookups for Sing and came to the same conclusion. Even factoring in the three-star review that has now been withdrawn, if you count only reviews by people who have posted many reviews, the average rating isn’t enough different to matter.

Maybe I should also do this for all 51 of the Rottweiler Rescue reviews, but I ran out of oomph. What I found proved to me at least that in the future I shall continue to look at Amazon reviews as I have in the past without bothering to look up each reviewer to see if he/she passes some test. The people who have honored me by making one of my books their first or only review seem to be very much of a similar mind as those who have reviewed many books and those who have reviewed a moderate number of books.

P.S. If you want to read a real rave review, see:

This lady of exceptional taste liked Eyes too. 🙂

I get a warning about entering an explicit site or something like that when I go there, but I think it’s just because she reviews some hotter romances. There’s a cover for a new Pamela Clare that I saw there that has me still breathless.


8 Responses to Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

  1. McD says:

    The statistics speak for themselves. Your books are popular. Period. However, the truth will never stop those slamming you, your books and your readers.

    Absolutely loved that review by Maldivian. Can’t better an A+ review or 13×5-star reviews or a DIK rating!

  2. Christina says:

    Ellen, Since I no longer post here would you please remove my name from the E-Mail list for notifications from this Blog? I have looked and have found no way to do that from my end.

    Thank you, Christina Rhys

  3. Christina – I’ll look around and see if I can figure out how to do that.

    McD – Thanks. As you know, it’s a relief to have the second book doing well too.


  4. Gia says:

    I’m sorry you will never be taken seriously on Amazon or Goodreads.

  5. Welcome, Gia. Actually I’d say I get taken very seriously on Amazon, 😉 and the fact is it’s only a hard core who are determined to believe in evil conspiracies. I freely admit it does get to me now and then. ~Ellen

  6. mesadallas says:

    Just took a peek at the latest thread regarding eyes and sing and I’m happy to report that the people who like Ellen’s books are very firmly keeping the gang at bay. Here’s to them!

  7. I just can’t believe some people and their need to trash other people’s work! *shakes head in disbelief*
    I loved both your books and am definitely looking forward for more!

  8. Hi MBR – I’ve appreciated your support in the past and most definitely appreciated that you reviewed both my romances. I’m so glad you liked them.

    It is depressing how the anonymity of the Internet brings out the enjoys-pulling-wings-off-flies types in numbers, but there are a lot of great people too. Like anything else, I’m sure one gets better at handling it all with practice. ~Ellen

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