Wednesday, April 11, 2012

authors vs. reviewers

So a little while ago I stumbled across this website called Goodreads. How I had not heard of it before, I have no idea. Basically (for those not in the know) it is a magical place where book lovers flock by the thousands to read and review any manner of books. Historical fiction, autobiographies, self pubbed (yay!), YA, romance - you name it, it's on there. For the large majority of authors who frequent the site, Goodreads is a fantastic tool to:

a) get your name out there
b) market your book to people you normally wouldn't be able to
c) have your work reviewed

Most authors do great with A & B. C, however... not so much. Case in point being the only reason I wanted to check out Goodreads in the first place is because I had followed an author's blog to an author's blog to an author's blog which described a recent kerfluffle where an author had gotten into it with a reviewer who (without going into the messy, dramatic, drawn out details) had given the author's book a not so glowing review. The backlash that followed was not, as you might expect, against the reviewer but rather against the author. 

I'll admit, at first I as confused by this. But then I sat down and I pondered... 


Ultimately I sided with the reviewer (not that it mattered to anyone involved) and I learned an INCREDIBLY valuable lesson: 


I debated whether to write: there is never a time where it is okay for an author to comment on ANY review, but I changed my mind. Especially on Goodreads, where you can 'like' reviews, and on Amazon, where you can find them 'helpful', I personally think it is perfectly okay for an author to like a nice review of their work. Or even make a comment to the effect of "thank you for the review, I am really glad you liked it!". No more, no less. As my history teacher would say, when in doubt, just KISS (keep it simple stupid).

Now, all of that is fine and good. Sounds easy, right? Well... surprisingly, not so much. I came to this conclusion before I published A Brooding Beauty. Since ABB has been out, it has gotten some stellar reviews, some okay reviews, and yes, a few bad reviews. As an author who is invested and loves her work, I would like nothing more than to comment on these not so stellar reviews and be all like "why do you say this when clearly this is what happened and you didn't like it for this reason but you obviously don't know what you're talking about and you're just a big mean bully!" - or something to that effect. 

Why don't I? Because reviewers AREN'T "big mean bullies" (well, to be perfectly honest, some of them are -- and sometimes yes, you can be mean and hurtful on purpose with your reviews, but that isn't what this post is about). Reviewers are people who have read your book (let us all take a moment to let that sink in... someone, other than your family or friend - cause you know they would never give you less than 4 stars - has taken the time to sit down and read YOUR book) and cared enough about it (whether that be a positive care or a negative care) to take even MORE time to write down what they thought.

Sometimes a negative review can be as simple as "didn't like it, wasn't for me" and sometimes they can go into more detail. Personally, I learn the most from the ones that go into more detail. So you didn't like my book and you tell me why. Umm... THANK YOU! Now I will take that advice, pick it apart, and keep it in the back of my mind for my next writing project. Let's be honest here, what is more helpful:

OMGOSHHH this was the best book EVVERRRRR I loved it so much can't wait to read the next one Edgar is SOOOO HOTTTTTT


Edgar was a lily livered prat who didn't have a back bone. He let Sue walk all over him and never said anything about it. 

Okay, so the first review will make you happy and adore that reviewer to the ends of the earth (seriously, if anyone ever said that about something I wrote I might just offer them my first born child a candy bar) BUT it doesn't tell you anything about your writing. Maybe Edgar COULD have stood up for himself more. Maybe in your next book he will tell Sue to go stuff it. Maybe - sometimes - a negative review isn't so negative after all. 

Either way, if you're an author you need to learn how to roll with the punches (in my humble opinion). Yeah, I've gotten some what I would call (quote/unquote) negative reviews on A Brooding Beauty. But you know what? People are still buying it and lending it to friends (thanks, KDP select program!). So the next time I get a not so awesome review I will continue to keep my trap shut, eat another piece of chocolate, and keep on writing. 

Like Kim Kardashian has to tell herself every night... No publicity is bad publicity! 

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