Ruminating On: Reviews

First and foremost, if you have a problem with lower-starred reviews of your work, you need to get over yourself. To complain about someone else’s subjective opinion when you have no control over what they like and don’t like, only serves to make you a narcissistic douchenozzle. So what if they didn’t like your work? Is that going to change whether or not you publish anything else? I sure hope not. Same goes for grander, four and five star reviews. Just because someone loves your work doesn’t mean you’re Tom Cruise’s gift to all things written and wordy. It simply means someone liked what you had to say. Yay you! Don’t get me wrong, as I love a five star review just as much as the next author, but I also like the lower-starred reviews as well. The first thought that should go through your head after reading any review should be, “At least they bothered with me in the first place.” Think about it, chum. How many authors reside in this world of ours? Next, how many books have those writers completed and published? Stephen King and Dean Koontz alone have more than fifty novels each to their credit, so if you write in the thriller and horror genres you should feel ecstatic that anyone even found your work, much less read the damn thing. You are not entitled to good reviews. Get that thought out of your head right away. You are not even entitled to a person’s opinion. It is up to the reader as to whether or not you get their attention after they finish with your work, not you.

So, how do you deal with one and two star reviews? You don’t. Sorry to burst your fragile little bubble, but you don’t “deal with them.” You let them be. If the reviewer offers some insight as to what you did wrong in their eyes, take a step back, apply duct tape to your ego’s mouth, and wonder if the critic could be right. Some of the lower star reviews on Bay’s End deal with the foul language and whether or not I could have written the same book without the crassness. I’ve thought about it, came to my decision, and pressed forward. Two points: One, the review is perfect. It helps keep those readers that abhor foul language away from the book, but allows those that don’t mind cussing to still purchase the book. Secondly, I completely respect the fact that the reviewer doesn’t like curse words, or moreover, the amount of curse words available in Bay’s End, because I will admit, I overdid it in some spots.

Middle of the road reviews are some of the best you will find. Okay, so someone gave you three stars because they loved your writing but couldn’t dig one or two of the scenes you put in the novel for whatever reasons. They still loved your writing, and I would bet you money that they might try your work again. Also, I love these reviews because people really pay attention to them. I don’t bother reading five and four star reviews because I know those people liked the book. I read the three stars and below reviews to see if they cover anything I might not enjoy. Some threes come with spoilers, and that’s okay, to a point. You really can’t expect someone not to mention a key moment in the plot if it bothered them, so I tend to let these slide. Once again, there’s not much you can do about it even if you wanted to, other than contacting the bookseller and reporting the review as being spoiler-y. But you can learn from three star reviews. Take notes as to what they didn’t like, pay attention, and again, see if it’s something you would want to change.

Reviews that challenge editing are harder to ignore, meaning you shouldn’t ignore them. If someone bashes you over the head with the amount of typos you left in the book, maybe you should rethink whether or not selling that book is the right thing to do. If you did procure an editor, maybe try a different one. Nobody’s perfect and not even the most seasoned editor will catch everything. And if you didn’t bother with an editor before selling your work, well… shame on you. If you went to McDonald’s and were served an under-cooked hamburger, you’d complain, wouldn’t you? After all, you spent your time and money there, so you have every right to complain about real problems, especially unfinished content. And if your book is free, that does not give you the right to complain about people who are complaining about your grammatical ineptitude. You still wasted their time, even if you didn’t waste their money. Quit trying to give away raw products for consumption. You’re going to make someone sick.

Finally, if you simply cannot help yourself, do your bitching and whining in private. No matter whether you’re right or wrong, attacking a reviewer gets you nowhere. You’re telling them that how they felt is invalid just because you don’t agree with them. In the end, you look like a douchenozzle. Even when you’re right, and have facts to prove yourself correct, don’t do it. There are very few people in this world that want to hear they are wrong. Reviewers are people, just like you. If you can’t keep your mouth shut, be respectful, but I warn you, the internet is a funny place and one cannot expect to be taken a certain way just because you meant to be taken a certain way. Even saying something as simple as “Thank you!” can be taken sarcastically. I always stick to saying nothing at all, unless I’m contacted in private or I’m on a blog tour, where my presence is expected.

As with all things in life, live and let live.

E.

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10 thoughts on “Ruminating On: Reviews

  1. Well said, Edward. I make it a rule to remember that reviews are there for other prospective readers… not the author. With that in mind, I also remember that every single person has their opinion and no two are the same. As one person might dislike something I’ve written, another will like it. It all evens out in the end.

  2. Opinions are like as …. ohhh ummm … I mean … I agree with you. It is best to keep our mouth shut. Engaging in mudslinging with a reviewer is a waste of time and makes an author look bad right or wrong.

  3. Excellent post, Edward. I agree with every word. I’d even give it 5 stars. 🙂

    The point where you mention cuss words in Bay’s End is one that’s I’ve tried to make many times. I think I’ve bought as much music and books based on 1 star reviews complaining about too much of something that I either like or am not bothered by. as I have based on good reviews.

    That you’re getting reviews from people who don’t like a book also lends more credibility to the good reviews (we’re that much more sure that people other than friends and family are reading it and expressing opinions). And most important, it helps you find people in your target audience and warns off those who aren’t. I think everyone wins in that situation.

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