Friday, March 26, 2010

Reviews that make you HUNGRY

I know how tempting it is to check review sites after the release of a new book, especially when you're a brand new writer. Reviews can either make your day or send you into a HUGE funk, wanting to do nothing but cuss, cry, or bury your head until the feelings of dejection pass.

Sad fact is, we can't please everyone. A book that might just rock a readers world, hits the wall with a loud smack with other readers. It's something, as writers, that we must get used to. I talk with lots of newbie writers who just freak out over them and I always say the same thing...don't put a lot of stock in reviews. Chatting with a reviewer one day not long ago, I mentioned something about 3's being considered by writers as not being all that good. She was shocked. Three means GOOD usually so why would we be upset? she said. I think maybe that's because we hope for the 4 or 5 that tells us the reviewer just "LOVED" the book and we don't really like settling for less than that. No one likes hearing their book is only so-so and though she liked it, didn't necessarily want it on her 'keeper shelf'. Maybe we writers just need to get over ourselves. There isn't a damn thing wrong with GOOD. If we provide a few hours of enjoyment, then we should be happy with that.

This being said, I'll say too that most of my reviews have been great. No complaints but believe me, there have been some that weren't so good too. I've been slammed because my story is too short. I'm been grilled over a 'too whiny heroine' or 'too ansty' hero. One reviewer who prefaced his review by saying he hadn't read the other books in my series, believed I had not advanced the series story line and thought my Texas characters had simplistic dialogue. I think the real kicker was the bad review I got for a menage story because the heroine served lasagne to the two heroes. See, the reviewer just HATES lasagne and couldn't get that damn lasagne off her mind while reading the story. Yuk. Lasagne. Yes, I probably deserved to be slammed over that. I mean, that's fair, right? Basically, we all have review horror stories. Best thing to do is read them, forget them (good or bad) and move on.

14 comments:

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Lasagne? That's stretching it! I'm willing to take a chance on the bigger review sites - scary though! Before I signed a contract for Captured, I entered a contest. One of the people judging the entry gave me a horrible score because they dislike the use of the 'f' word. My other scores were super high. I had to laugh - so if you hate the use of the 'f' word, why are you judging a contest for erotic romance???

Debra Glass said...

I had a reviewer who gave me a rotten review but didn't get my heroine's name right when she reviewed the book. Sheesh.

A serious reviewer will overlook such trivialities as the characters eating lasagna or if the heroine's name is that of someone she doesn't like in real life.

BrennaLyons said...

LOL! Been there. Done that. Let's see... Some of my best.

It really irks me when reviewers slam the book/story for being short, long, dark, erotic, sensual, a given genre, etc. I make this as easy for them as I can. I have a rating system, and so do most of my publishers...not just heat level but also for content advisories. I have blurbs that make it clear what a book is, and review sites get information like length and genre on the review request. If you don't like something, don't review it. It's that simple.

The lasagne thing makes me smile. Some reviewers really need to learn to couch that into... "If you don't have an aversion to lasagne, you'll love this book." and give the fracking thing a 4. The food a character likes should not affect the score.

Now, if the book is something like the love affair between a married man and his mistress...and the blub doesn't make that clear, you have a major problem with reviewers being understandably ticked off. They don't universally think of that sort of situation as "romance."

I had a reviewer that didn't like that I used gateways between worlds. She hated Stargate (the movie), and anyone with a gateway was going to pay for that...and she admitted it in the review.

I had a reviewer that complained I made her think too much. Uh...that's a bad thing? For that reviewer, I guess so. I like books that challenge me and make me think.

I had a reviewer that marked me down for...get this...writing a patriarchal society. As a female spec fic writer, it was her NSHO that I should only write matriarchal worlds. Sorry to disappoint...and disagree. The world was a balanced world...not patriarchal, but it was a world in flux and just becoming balanced, after years of being patriarchal. Gods forbid she ever reads the book where I have a matriarchal world destroyed by their patriarchal neighbors...same world in a much earlier time frame.

I had a reviewer that...another favorite...reviewed (I use the term loosely) an award-winning anthology I was in. He spent the first paragraph or two talking about another review he wrote. He then spent almost the entire review complaining about the author bios at the end. This from a man whose own bio talks about how he's a career student and can't hold a job? Oh, and he refused to comment on any given story, because to say how good one was would mean locking him into (it doesn't) how bad he felt others were. His single pointed criticism that had to do with ANYTHING? It needed another edit. Rolling eyes. The copy he had was clearly marked as pre-galleys, because he demanded an early copy.

This final one isn't a reviewer, per se. It's a judge. I once got marked down in a contest...not because there was anything wrong with my poem, but because the judge didn't LIKE the poetry form I chose to use. That wasn't even on the score sheet. He crossed out the question about whether or not I'd recreated the style as it was historically used and wrote in his own about whether or not he LIKED the style and fully admitted on the sheet that I did the style fine, but he hates that style and knocked me down 10 points out of 100 for it.

One that wasn't me? Jeff Strand's wife, Janice Strand/Lynne Hansen, once got a review that said something along the lines of, "Wife of the fabulous author Jeff Strand..." and went on for several paragraphs about Jeff's latest book before giving her a paragraph about her own. Ow... They laugh about it now, but that's painful.

Brenna

Regina Carlysle said...

That's just silly, Julia. Erotic romances are graphic. Don't like graphic words? You certainly don't want to choose and erotic romance.

Regina Carlysle said...

I agree Debra. It's kind of like getting slammed for a book being too short when they KNEW it was short when they selected it to review. It's ridiculous.

Regina Carlysle said...

You made my point beautifully, Brenna. Newbies, listen up...don't pay attention to this stuff. Don't let it kill your creativity and send you headfirst into a funk. So not worth it.

Anne Rainey said...

No matter how many books I write, I will ALWAYS feel horrible after reading a bad reader comment or review. If there were a few helpful sentences, that does make a difference. But if it's a generic, 'this story sucks'...yeah, I'm gonna be in a funk. It's just something I can't help.

To be honest, I try really hard not to search them out. If they come to my inbox then great. If they're out there floating around I don't want to know about them! It's just too easy to let yourself be influenced by them.

Misselle38 said...

If you give your writing 100% and you know that you do. Then a review is going to be what it is. Yes Hopefully they are good ones and they love your work and admire all that goes into it. Most times reviewers and or critics just look for something bad to say, just because. Even if they like it, something will annoy them enough to not give you a great review. and how can you call yourself giving and honest and unbiased review, and then complain about lasagna, what are you 12 years old. LMAO!

Regina Carlysle said...

It's true, they hurt. We're human, we work hard and we can't help feeling bad. It's how you pull yourself up from that that counts the most.

And yeah, some reviewers just love to rip things apart because they can. I can't take those people seriously. We've all known people like that in the 'real world'. They are the kind who are puffed up know it alls who dispense negativity like candy. You've got to blow that off.

Laura Breck said...

Hi Regina, great post. I'm laughing about your 'antsy' hero review. Who uses the word 'antsy' anymore?

Anyway, my advice to pre-published authors - use negative manuscript contest results to immunize yourselves against future negative book reviews. Learn to glean pertinent information, and ignore anything else.

Happy Friday!

Madison Scott said...

I have been lucky enough not to run across a bad review yet. I'm sure they're out there, but I'm like Anne, I don't search them out. I KNOW I will get them, might have them and I know all authors get them, but I think they're still hard to swallow. Our hearts go into these books and I think its hard to completely let it roll off your shoulder.

Dita Parker said...

What? They're not all gonna love me to pieces? Oh man....

I tried reading my first review with my eyes closed. Didn't work, had to open these beepers and face the music, and it didn't sound so bad.

I got that "dreaded" 3,75, which translated to "a great read", so how could I feel bad about that?! Considering how many books go through that site, having them pick up my firstborn, rate and post a positive note about my book felt like a thumbs stars notwithstanding.

As a reader, no review ever makes or breaks a book for me. Having said that, when those rotten tomatoes start flying my way, please remind me again it's only the tomatoes that stink, not yours truly madly deeply...

Anny Cook said...

Great post! Been there and done that!

Fran Lee said...

I loved the reader who wrote: "This book was hard to review...I gave it a low score, but only because I loved it! It should have been longer!" HUH??? Oooo-kay.