Monday, January 9, 2012

About Reviews

There have been a few different incidents that I've come across lately that bring reviews to mind. The first is my own continual struggle as to how best to go about garnering reviews. I have a personal feeling that asking someone for a review is putting pressure on the reviewer. I know there are many, many bloggers and reviewers alike that are professional and requesting that they take the time to review my book wouldn't seem inappropriate.

Perhaps I am naive in thinking that I want someone to read my book and simply give it a review because they enjoyed it or hated it. In the huge market of indie books, I know that a great many readers don't want to waste time on a book they don't know is even well written, let alone a story that they will enjoy. So reviews of any kind can get someone to give your book a chance or pass it up for one that has reviews.

My book has only been out since the end of October 2011, and so far it has four unsolicited reviews on I am proud that while not raving, the criticisms are mostly personal preferences by each reader and not a lot of complaints about bad spelling, terrible grammar or a complete failure to develop a story. Those were my nightmare review points that continue to haunt me. I know eventually, I will run into someone that will rip into my work. Even the authors we all consider successful find someone that dislikes what they write. I am preparing for that ugly review by continually reminding myself that you can't please everyone, and remembering that while not all in review form, I have gotten compliments on the book from readers.

This leads me to the second incident that brings reviews to mind. I was on Twitter and stumbled into the middle of an author rant-book reviewer drama. Some of you might know of the incident, but since I never did quite get the entire story, I am not going to mention anything specific. Instead, I wanted to talk about the overall incident as an author.

I know I have a quick temper and when someone says or does something to me, my first reaction is to fight back. Apparently, the author in question felt that the book blogger's review of their book was more of a personal attack rather than a critique of the work. I know there are many "reviewers" that often give out poor reviews for little or no reason. I can understand the author feeling angry enough to want to respond.

Unless requested, I think it is bad form to respond to any review, especially a negative one. No matter what the reviewer might have written, I think as an author we come off looking bad in any of these exchanges. Instead, I think we all  have to trust that readers will see the review for what it is. I know myself, a bad review that I felt was unwarranted often prompted me to read the book rather than turn me away.

I found a link and read the review that apparently sparked the drama. I didn't think the blogger said anything personal about the author. The blogger simply didn't find the book to her liking for several reasons and listed those reasons. Could any author really ask for more? At least it wasn't a bad rating with a simple, "This book sucks" comment.

In these days of social media, where it is so easy to take to the internet and vent our anger, I think as authors, we really need to take a step back. Before we ever sit down to criticize someone for their opinion, we need to think how it will look to other readers. Most bloggers are simply readers that share their views on what they read. I don't know if this is someone who asks for a free copy to review a book. By creating a rant in Twitter, Facebook or even our own blog, we run the risk of alienating other readers and other bloggers.

We should also remember that what we rant online in anger, stays out there forever. We can't take it back once we've hit send, publish or post. As we'd hope that reviewers take an open minded approach to our books, can we not give the reviewers and bloggers the same benefit?


  1. Very well thought out and eloquent example of the "razor's edge" of the review world.

    I am having a hard time getting reviews, and there seems to be some anxiety on my part as well for asking for them. You voiced a lot of my concerns and fears.

    Enjoyed the rambling, because I assume its not a rant. LOL.

    M C Moore

  2. Thank you, M.C.!

    It was definitely not a rant. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I think a lot of authors feel the same way. We don't want to offend anyone, and yet we all want to get those reviews to help prove our work.

    If you figure out a solution, be sure to share it. I'm sure there are many that could use the advice.

  3. I found your point of view as to reviews similar to mine. Being in the same boat (having trouble getting/asking for people to review), I get ecstatic over the meager reviews I've received and must be content with them. After all, a writer can't force a review, nor can we live or die by them either. I'm preparing myself for that day when someone rips apart my work, but if they pay the price for the book, I really have to keep an open mind when it comes to a negative review.

    I personally have read hundreds of books by mainstream authors I didn't like. Did I bother to leave a negative review? No, I did not. In fact, the last book I read by a well-known author was purchased on Amazon and I did NOT share how awful I thought it was, nor would I.

    Having said all that though, not every writer can please every reader. And the reader does have the right to leave negative comments. But I don't think an attack on the individual is at all called for.

    As a new indie writer, I have to remember less than 1% of sales actually result in a review. Therefore, I celebrate the sales and try to content myself with the positive comments I do get.

  4. So very true, I don't leave reviews for everything I read either. There are various reasons for it, but I can't expect others to do more than I do myself.

    I try to leave reviews for Indie authors, but even then, if it is something I just couldn't relate to for whatever reason.

  5. Well said! I have to agree, although the temptation to defend oneself against a malicious review is pretty strong at first. Especially when the reviewer has said things that are patently false. But it is best not to respond because the reviewer has every right to an opinion (even if it's and the freedom to express it. Plus, like you say, tastes are different and no book will be liked by everyone.
    Some reviewers will give a bad rating to the book if the plot didn't turn out the way they wanted it to. This is petty. When I leave reviews, I try to point out the positives about the book. Even if the subject matter is not to my liking, I can still appreciate good writing, good proofing & editing, and good character development.
    I have heard that a few bad reviews are actually helpful to an author. That way the good reviews don't fall under suspicion of being planted by friends.
    Good post, Bridget!

  6. Thanks!

    I know I how easy it is to want to correct something so wrong, but yes it is best to refrain.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I agree that there is always something you should be able to say positively about a book. I mean if you managed to finish it, there had to be some reason you did.

    Thanks for stopping in to comment.

  7. As an active reviewer and site owner I have to say BRAVO. I KNOW that reviews are hard to come by. Reviewers only have so many hours to devote to reading and there are way more books out there than what we can read.

    That being said, no author, indie or otherwise should ever feel that submitting their book to a site is begging. That is what review sites are here for :) We LOVE to read :) We need to read.

    All I can say to all the authors out there is keep your head up and don't worry about a bad review. Everyone will get a few but what you need to remember is that YOU are following YOUR dream :) Your story is published and out there for the world to read...and that takes courage :)

    Hugs to you all and NEVER give up :) Solicit the HECK out of those review sites and WILL pay off :)

  8. This brings to the forefront another aspect of reading and reviewing. As a writer, I so appreciate those unsolicited reviews. When someone has read my books and likes them, and then takes a second to post a review for me, it makes me feel very good to know they took time to let me and others know. So I try to post a positive review when a book in particular touches me. If it doesn't, I don't say anything because it might just not be my cup of tea.

  9. I agree. If a book doesn't tickle your fancy, don't say anything. Better to not say a word than be mean about it just for the sake of being mean.

  10. Thanks so much for stopping in to comment. I appreciate all the encouraging words. As a writer it is hard sometimes to want to put yourself out there and push your book.

    Keep up the reviewing and reading. Even if all writers don't say it, it is appreciated.

  11. So true, Bridget. Well put! I had one poor review from someone who simply did not enjoy the book. She mentioned why and, although disappointed, I simply thanked her (I knew her) and left it at that. A few weeks later I got a note from her. She mentioned that although she did not care for my novel, she mentioned the book to a friend she thought might enjoy it. The friend loved it, and she just wanted to let me know. I thought that was great and reaffirmed for me the fact that I should avoid burning bridges at all costs.
    Thanks for the post and best of luck garnering those reviews.


  12. Yes, exactly Jimmy!

    We never know how word about our book will spread. Word of mouth is just as valuable as any written review. If someone takes the time to pass word along to a friend, we achieve the same goal.

    Congrats on things working out for you!