Why would any author beyond the most green even consider clicking on a review? And worse, what kind of masochist would click on a one or two star review? That’s like asking someone to attach a ‘Kick Me’ sign to your back. With several staples.
Well, I’ve cut my review reading tendencies down to almost nothing. I rarely even read good reviews—which is a lot harder—and while I understand the importance of reviews, I’ve come to terms with the fact that reviews. ARE. NOT. FOR. AUTHORS. Some people may say you can learn from reviews. I guess some new authors might be able to—if they haven’t found much more productive places to learn from such as crit groups, workshops, etc. Seriously, an author is much more likely to damage their fragile egos (VERY fragile in most cases) than learn anything. And the authors with egos too big to damage don’t G.A.S about reviews.
But sometimes it’s tempting to take a peek. You’re sitting at your desk, staring at that evil blank page, wishing the words would march across it like little soldier ants and prove that your abilities haven’t been sucked into the huge black hole that swallows creativity while the interactive world online passes you by. It won’t hurt to check out who’s on facebook. Nothing much going on? How about twitter? While you’re online you might as well check your stats. It’s very important that you know what they are at any given time of day. And the rush of seeing the numbers going down a few thousand is so worth it! You now know people are buying your books! Reading them! Maybe even….enjoying them?
How can you know? Because you must know! It’s kinda like the feeling you get when you leave your baby with someone for the first time. You’re tempted to call again and again to see how the baby is doing. You can’t let go.
But you have to. Or so they say.
What happens if you can’t? Well, you could end up with a very clingy kid and not much grownup time. When it comes to books, you could end up spending more time obsessing over what a handful of readers thought of your past books than writing new ones. And if you’ve written a book that draws those one-two shots, you can actually put yourself into a depression. Not very productive.
Or you can find a new way to look at it. Now, this isn’t a criticism against reviewers in general. Everyone has their own opinion and you are entitled to yours even if it’s hurtful to the author. This is just to help a few sensitive souls get some perspective on some of the ‘constructive criticism’ commonly found in harsh reviews.
Here are the top five worst things to read in a review, and what authors should really be thinking when they read them.
5. I HATED the characters. (or) I couldn’t relate to the hero/heroine.
This is unfortunate. Ideally, every single reader who picks up your book will love your characters. Ideally every person in the world will love you. We’d all live in a beautiful utopia and spend our days hugging. Maybe groping. Mega-orgies!
No matter how likeable your characters are, someone’s not going to ‘get them’. For example, if your heroine is obsessed with cooking, I’ll probably hate her. Which you should absolutely change once you read my review, right? ;)
4. This book was a struggle to read! Too slow to start (or fast paced, or descriptive, or not descriptive enough—insert issue) and I just couldn’t get into it.
Of course, a comment like this means you have to change your writing style. That beautiful prose that paints every scene should be removed. Those action scenes that grip the reader need to be restructured. Actually, you should do a survey of a hundred readers to see what style they like best and spend a few days compiling the information so you can write in a way that pleases them all.
And good luck with that!
3. This book disappointed me. I thought it would be just like (insert current trendsetter…or save yourself some time and insert 50 Shades).
Hmm…well, this one is harder to explain. Because really, why didn’t you write 50 Shades? Please set aside some time each day to contemplate this and amend your ways as quickly as possible. And if you can’t emulate the New York Bestseller, you should probably stop writing. That’s all anyone wants to read right now.
**Note: To be successful with this, please ignore all the reviews from readers that tell you they love your book because it’s different. They are misguided.
2. DNF, but I would like to say…
Pay careful attention to these. Often they have questions that were never answered, and you really should dwell on the fact that you didn’t answer those questions earlier. Also, how dare you lose the interest of the reader! Really, you should have included hash brownies with the purchase. Or some chemical in the paper of the b…ah, yeah. No paper. Damn ebooks!
**Note: Contact ereader distributors and suggest a method of chemically enticing every reader who begins a book to finish it. Because no book was ever not finished until the evil ebook came along.
1. Worst book ever.
Okay, stop right there. This isn’t a criticism! Well, unless the reviewer hasn’t read many books, in which case their opinion may be suspect. You have somehow managed to move beyond the hundreds of books that strive for the title, impassioned the reader enough for them to make a very lofty claim about what they’ve just read. But don’t let it get to your head. Your books may be close to reaching notoriety, but they’re not there yet. If only one person says this, it may be a glitch. If many say it…
Well, I have to admit, I’ve let it get to my head a little. I’m very close to claiming that infamous title for one of my books which has gained almost as much hate as it has love. If you plan to take the title from me, you’ve got your work cut out for you. You best have written something truly horrific!
If you’ve never been handed out one of these gems in a review, don’t worry. Keep working hard and it will come. And if you’ve gotten to the point where you haven’t been reading reviews in a while, you may already have one. But don’t go checking!
All right, but just a little peek! ;)