Finally, for the last blog in this series I want to focus on reviews. Personally, I suck at writing reviews, so I have a lot of respect for people who volunteer their time to read books and then take the time to write about it. That’s where I am at now. My book has been accepted for review by four separate people. It’s exciting and scary at the same time. Most reviewers have disclaimers on their websites/blogs that say “I only give honest reviews.” That can be a little intimidating. Of course I only want an honest review. It’s okay if someone doesn’t like my book. But let’s face it, I want people to like my book. I especially want reviewers to like my book because then others may take a chance and buy it.
I have seven 5 reviews on Amazon for my book already, and I love every one of them. Not just because they’re good reviews, but because I know the people who left the reviews meant what they said. There are people (including friends and family) who have read my book and never said another word about it. Did they like it? Hate it? I don’t know. They never said. Complete silence. Honestly, that makes me crazier than a bad review. It’s okay not to like my book. It’s even okay to say that to me. Maybe they think it will make Thanksgiving awkward. Not on my end. My feelings are not wrapped up in my book. I’m a big girl. My husband told me to ask them directly to leave a positive review, but I don’t want fake reviews. If you like it, say so. If you didn’t, say so. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving a review because you think I’ll give you the stink eye at family functions, then don’t.
For me, negative reviews fall into one of two categories. The first category is crap - a negative review that is absolute crap and is thoughtless and cruel. The second category is constructive – that’s right, constructive. Sometimes a negative review can tell you something about your writing you didn’t know (or didn’t want to admit). Something helpful like overusing a particular word or phrase, punctuation or spelling errors, time or plot conflicts, formatting issues, character inconsistencies, etc. These reviews can help you improve your writing (although they can be worded cruelly as well). Don’t just write off a negative review especially if several people are saying the same thing. Be honest with yourself before putting it in the crap category.
For authors, it seems like so much emphasis is put on reviews, and for obvious reasons. If a book gets several bad reviews, it can have a serious negative effect on sales. Not to mention, it can be a little hard to hear. While I do have a thick skin, I’m not totally immune. Some writers I know say you’re not a legitimate author until you have at least one hater. They wear their one star review like a badge of honor. I like that attitude.