Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Good reviews, bad reviews, and the "OMG, I suck as a writer!" kind

If you know an author you probably have heard them say, "If you liked my book please leave a review!". If you have author friends online you've probably read something similar. Sometimes a little blurb is added to the back of the books asking for kind words on social review sites.

The good reviews probably seem like there shouldn't need anything to be said about them, right? The obvious part of them is that when I get a great review, I feel like I'm the best writer in the world. I post the review link on my social networking pages so that others can cheer me on. Sounds good, huh? Well, I hear that if you have too many good reviews, people doubt their validity. A high number of good reviews leads some people to believe that the author's family and friends wrote them, or that the author paid for the reviews. This is insane! But what do you do?

I don't care who the author is, they've gotten a bad review at one time or another. Okay, so I love Rachel Gibson books. She is one of my absolute favorite authors. I don't even read the back of her books anymore. I grab them because I know I'm going to love the book. My favorite of her books is See Jane Score. For the sake of this post, I looked up Rachel Gibson's reviews (because I knew I'd find some bad ones.) and found this:

"This book is boring. So you like Hockey and the guys. Ugh. The jokes are so lame. Oh they drop their pants and she has to pretend it doesn't bother her, well we could have guessed that.
The characters are without any color, no real excitment comes up when you read the chapters. Honestly she followed the textbook of writing a chick flick and forgot to step it up some." To check out the whole review:  http://www.amazon.com/See-Jane-Score-Rachel-Gibson/product-reviews/0060009241/ref=cm_cr_dp_qt_hist_one?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addOneStar&showViewpoints=0 

My first thought: What the hell is this reviewer thinking? That is MY favorite book. The book is amazing. I carried See Jane Score in my purse and read it while waiting in line, on the bus, and any place I found an extra minute. I couldn't stop reading it! And that, my friend, is the point. Not everyone likes what you do. Not everyone gets the meaning of what you, the author, is trying to write. When I get a bad review I feel the sting and doubt my writing for a moment. I will never, ever let one person's opinion ruin the passion I have for writing so I focus on all of the good reviews until I move on! 

What about the last type? You know the reviews I'm talking about... the kind that leave the author wondering why on earth they'd ever started writing in the first place. Some people are out there that totally bash the book and the author. I have lucked out and never received a review like this (that I'm aware of) and hope I never do, but a good friend of mine has. 

My friend wrote a BDSM paranormal. When it released, her sales boomed! She sold more of that book than any of her others. She called me one day after receiving one of these reviews. The reviewer not only bashed her book but her as an author too. She sobbed on the phone, asking me over and over why she even wrote books. "I suck," she exclaimed. I told her she didn't. Some people might just be mean and that is the reason why they do this, but I think that it goes a lot deeper than that. We have triggers in us that makes us feel certain emotions. Her book might've triggered some deep issue in that reviewer and had to experience the unpleasantness of the reviewers backlash. Who knows? My friend will never find out, but guess what? She moved on and wrote even better books. 

I actual read the reviews I receive and also on books I want to buy. But why since a book review has such a fine line between good and evil? I don't look at the rating when buying a book. I want to check for things I'll like about the book or something I won't. And I always remind myself that this review is one person's opinion. If it has bad reviews but looks promising to me, I'll still buy the book. 

To my reader friends: Leave reviews. No matter what, they'll motivate the author. To my author friends: Don't let a bad review hold you down. Look at Fifty Shades of Grey! Need I say more? 

Happy Reading, 

Wendy Ely 

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