Friday, September 10, 2010

Reviews... Love 'em or Hate 'em?

Reviews… It’s a known fact that most authors worry about how their books will be received. Will readers like them? Did you get across everything you felt inside? Was the book you loved writing loved by someone else? When a book is published, we anxiously await news of reviews. Once they come in, we hover the cursor over the link, asking ourselves: Do I really want to read this? Of course we do, but there’s that little part of us that is filled with dread. What If I wrote a doozy? What if…what if…?

I’ve been following Daisy Dexter-Dobbs’ recent Facebook and blog articles where she discusses how she handles reviews (funny posts!). She used to get upset when she got a “bad” one, but now she’s able to use humour to brush them off—that and the realisation that what she writes isn’t for everyone. We have no control over who reviews our books once they’ve been sent out or bought, and that’s one of the many nervy aspects of being an author. People have the right to express how they feel about a book because, after all, it’s their opinion. We just have to take the hits as they come and move on, aiming to do better next time. I like cream cheese, you don’t. I like slices of apple drenched in salad cream, but many, many people will most definitely not!

Which brings me to what I’ve been doing this week. (No, I didn’t eat apples and salad cream, lol, but now I’ve written about them I want some.) The kids went back to school—college-aged son starts back Monday coming—and I took the time to create a blog I’d been asked to do. It still has a few things I must do, and there will be touches added along the way as and when they’re needed, but for now it’s as ready as it will ever be. It’s a review site, so I was able to point some of my friends out to the reviewer in the hopes she’d review their books (Howdy Regina, Kit and Lily!). She did, and with more of my friends on her list, she’ll have plenty to read. She won’t be reviewing mine—I know her too well for her to remain objective—but she may have guest reviewers starting if she can persuade them to join her, so maybe I’ll get reviewed then.

If you’d like to see what I created, go HERE, and if you’d like the assurance that your book is in safe hands should you send it in, you can rest easy that she won’t be mean. I’ve known her a long, long time. She’s done something a little different to other review sites. If she reads your book, you’re guaranteed a 4/5, 5/5 or a Top Pick. The rub is “if” she reads it. All is explained on her blog.

So, back to reviews:

Q: As a reader, if you were to give a review on a book you hated, would you be totally honest and say it like it is, or would you use more restraint?

Q: As an author, do you have to strongly resist leaving a comment on one of your bad reviews because you don’t want to appear unprofessional?

Also, I'd like to have a little squeal and show you my new cover. I love it, got exactly what I'd asked for and envisioned in my head. And I want to own a bottom like hers. Well, I can dream, can't I? LOL


Tess MacKall said... the set up of that review site. No snark. The little bits and pieces the reviewer adds are totally unique. A fun way to dish out a review. And those snippets of what she provides will be great for author promo.

And I love the site you designed too, Nat. A really fun, funky look for sure.

I don't worry about reviews anymore. I don't know if some reviewers are on power trips or what. But when I read a review from one site that gives a horrible review and a low score, and then five other sites give high scores, well...I figure all is not as it seems.

Could be my tendency to see the boogie man every which way I turn.

I like the idea that this reviewer doesn't guarantee a read of your book if she reads the blurb and doesn't think she will like it. Reviewers reading something that isn't within their preferred genre and a personal turn-off just doesn't make sense.

Read what you like. If you do, you're much more likely to give a fair and thorough review. You wouldn't want a woman who hates to cook reviewing a cookbook, would you? You wouldn't want a person who hates sci-fi to review your sci-fi book, would you?

Some reviewers read two or three genres. But why would a person who doesn't like fantasy or sci-fi
review a fantasy or sci-fi book. They know nothing about the genre for the most part. Can't compare it with other reads. And there is no way it would ever trip their trigger as a reader.

Review sites categorize books based on genre. Seems to me that it would help to have reviewers stick to the genres they love too. Yeah, some reviewers do stick to what they love. Others don't, unfortunately.

And here's another thing that bugs me lately about reviews. I keep reading reviews that complain a book is too short--no they don't mean that they wish it had gone on forever--they are being negative with that remark. Yet the book is clearly marked as a short story. If reading short stories is not your thing, bypass the shorter works and pick up novels.

By the same token, if you don't like BDSM, don't pick up a book clearly marked BDSM. Don't pick up a book that is marked graphic if you don't like it graphic. Publishers and authors give warnings as to content issues. Read the warnings. If you don't like pork, you won't buy a can of soup that clearly says on the label it contains pork. Same thing with books.

If its label tells you it's something you don't like, don't buy it. I'm sure authors like the royalty but I think they'd much prefer you left it alone if you can't enjoy what they've written.

And I've written a blog. Sorry, Nat. But this is one of my hot buttons. sighhhhhh

Annabel Joseph said...

Great sites, Natalie! And I'm like Tess, I tend not to read reviews or reader comments, as far as I can avoid them. If I stumble across a nice one, I enjoy it and even write back sometimes, but as soon as I see something is going to be negative, I just stop reading and click off. I certainly don't leave a defensive comment! Yikes, I have seen that go really wrong lately with other writers.
The thing is, when I turn in a book, I know it is my best work. I know I have thought carefully about everything...characterization, plot, emotion, if a reader still doesn't like it, there's really nothing I could have done for that reader. So I just kind of shrug my shoulders and say, "you win some, you lose some." But I try not to read to many bad reviews and comments, because they make me doubt myself too much and then the writing dries up. Not good!!!

Natalie Dae said...

LOL Tess. I realized this had got to you by the time I got halfway down your comment. You're so funny when you get riled up. But I agree with what you said. If reviewers can pick what they want to read, why the hell do they state stuff like "I don't like BDSM, and this was full of it!"? This leads me to believe they have no choice in what they're reading. The books are just given to them.

Natalie Dae said...

Hiya Annabel!

I agree with you too. If the reviews are negative, it really does make me question why the hell I'm bothering. Might be something the reviewer has asked themseves about me too ROFL, but you know what I mean. I try very hard to avoid reading reviews, but when they appear in my inbox via Google Alert...that link is just too much to ignore.

Bekki Lynn said...

I love reading reviews, not just for my books - those I cringe and click on with half an eye, but in general.

However, I do question the ethics of many who leave me with wonderings. I see a lot of reviews where they really seemed not to like the book, but it was graded a 4.5 or 5, whereas a review where they were drooling all over was given a 3.5. That's a peeve of mine. Words and actions need to be on the same page.

Inconsistencies aside, I'm looking for craft issues that might help me better improve my own work. If reviewers feel characters are lacking in some area, I want to take a look and make sure I'm not doing the same and so on.

On the other hand, I don't use reviews in order to choose which books to purchase or read. But I do take note of books that might be right up my alley.

Natalie Dae said...

Oh, Bekki! You hit on another thing that bugs me too. Yes, gush about the book so it sounds like she loved it to death, then give it a 3. So odd. I wonder if they have some kind of thing they have to adhere to, where even if they really liked it, if it didn't match the review site's criteria in certain sections, the reviewer has to take off a "star" or half a star? Who knows? It's all confusing.

Lex Valentine said...

Reviews can be so annoying sometimes. I don't tend to worry about them though. They just are what they are including the ones that are agenda driven. When I read something I really like I give it a Valentine Review on my site. No bad reviews there. Just various levels of love. LOL

Natalie Dae said...

Hiya Lex! you know I've had a couple of those in one of my other names. We won't even GO there LOL. And it's funny, the reviews I get for my other names don't bother me at all now, no idea why. Maybe those agenda ones made me see that some reviews are just mean for the sake of it. Yet this name? I feel sick every time one comes in. Weird.

Unknown said...

OMG I love the new cover! Great job on the review site too.

If I were to review a book I'd give an honest opinion, but chose my words carefully. We're all human and no one likes to be bashed.
As a writer I try not to look at my own, but of course I have to know what people are saying. lol

C. Zampa said...

As a reader? Tough call, because I'd always be putting myself in the writer's shoes. But I'd not comment negatively unless asked to, then I'd have to be honest, I suppose, but as constuctive as possible.

Since I'm not a professional reviewer---when I DO give amateur reviews of books, it is only ones I liked.

I've yet to be publsihed to have a review. But my main concern would be if the story was plausible, if the characters had depth.

Love the new cover!

Anonymous said...

First of all, LOVE that cover!!! Congrats.

So, here's the deal from a!! Hehe!!

Yes, I can choose what I want to read most of the time so of course I choose books I know I will probably enjoy.

Sometimes, when prints get sent to me, the box isn't full so the coordinator will throw a few in that nobody asked for...that's ok. I do basically read everything.

So, if I read a book that is so/so, its not because the book was really bad, its probably one of two things. It is not really a story that appeals to me, so I will honestly say that and then go on to the good parts.

Or, its an erotic story that just has too much sex in it, or sex for the sex sake and sex from the first page on then in every chapter and at the end of the story, just for good measure...hehe!!! Know what I mean?

So, I recently read an historical by an author I usually enjoy very much and I hated it!! It was all because the hero was a real jerk and I didn't like him and I couldn't see how the heroine could even like him let alone love him! I of course didn't give my usually high rating, said why but also added this wouldn't stop me from reading more of this authors work.

Um.....running out of steam now, so I'll get down from the soap box...


in Germany

C. Zampa said...

I forgot!

I LOVE the review site! And hope one day soon to have a book to send to you!

Regina Carlysle said...

I read the 'too much sex' comment a LOT on review sites. What some reviewers may not realize is if the book is an erotic romance, very often the author is asked to add MORE SEX by her editor. A certain amount of sex is expected so the author is really caught up in the rules of her publisher. So it seems the 'too much sex' complaint is a little unfair.

I think we need to not take ourselves too seriously when reading these reviews though.I've gotten 3's for a book and then almost immediately gotten several 5's for the same book. It's a matter of taste and one persons opinion. And there ARE reviewers who seem to like a book very much, they'll rave and then find one little thing they DIDN"T like and downgrade the book drastically because of that. That doesn't seem fair.

Regina Carlysle said...

Oh and Natalie....You did an awesome job on building that review site. It's soooo funky and fun!

Regina Carlysle said...

Something else...jeez, I'm chatty today...if I were a reviewer I believe I would be able to find SOMETHING nice about a story even if I didn't care for the book as a whole. Being mean for the sake of being mean just isn't right.

Regina Carlysle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Natalie Dae said...

Hi Amber! I know exactly what you mean. We can't help but peek at the reviews. I'd love to be able to ignore the ones in this name like I do in my others, but something pushes me to look. ARGH!

Natalie Dae said...

Hiya CZ. Yes, you'll be getting reviews before you know it. You rock!

Natalie Dae said...

Hi Valerie! (Can I call you Val in future?)

Yes, know what you mean about sex for sex's sake, but like Regina said, sometimes authors are asked to add more.

I'd love to get a box load of print books like you do. It'd be like Christmas!

Debbie Gould said...

Ahhh, reviews. I have a love/hate relationship with them. It's like watching a train wreck, lmao. You just cant look away. I haven't yet learned how to have the bad ones not affect me.

Don't get me wrong, I want the truth, but it can be such a subjective thing. So if the reviewer is a fan of Romantic Suspense and hates my book, it would indeed give me pause.

Yet I'm always seeking out opinions, lol. Guess I'm just a sucker for punishment.

Great site, Nat! I'll be visiting it often to see what you have to say.

BTW, I've said it before, but that is ONE HOT COVER!

Debbie Gould said...

Ahhh, reviews. I have a love/hate relationship with them. It's like watching a train wreck, lmao. You just cant look away. I haven't yet learned how to have the bad ones not affect me.

Don't get me wrong, I want the truth, but it can be such a subjective thing. So if the reviewer is a fan of Romantic Suspense and hates my book, it would indeed give me pause.

Yet I'm always seeking out opinions, lol. Guess I'm just a sucker for punishment.

Great site, Nat! I'll be visiting it often to see what you have to say.

BTW, I've said it before, but that is ONE HOT COVER!

Natalie Dae said...

I'm with you on all you've said, Reg. It is just someone's opinion. Keeping that in mind is key.

Natalie Dae said...

Hi Deb!

Trainwrecks...yep, you can't resist looking!

That isn't my site. I just created it. But you should still go over there if you want to lol. I might do some guest reviews for her, though, but they'll be on the print books I read before I fall asleep at night.

Anne Rainey said...

I fully admit that when I see a great review or a top pick for one of my stories I'm all, "Woohoo!". Then when I see a negative review, I'm like, "Geez, whatever. I don't know why I bother reading reviews anyway".


Reviews are important, but they aren't THE most important thing in the world. Just wish I could remember that little fact!

Anne Rainey said...

I fully admit that when I see a great review or a top pick for one of my stories I'm all, "Woohoo!". Then when I see a negative review, I'm like, "Geez, whatever. I don't know why I bother reading reviews anyway".


Reviews are important, but they aren't THE most important thing in the world. Just wish I could remember that little fact!

Natalie Dae said...

Same here, Anne. Good ones can make your day. Those ones have you dancing about and feeling so happy that someone "got" your book and understood where you were coming from.

Anny Cook said...

Reviews you say? I try very hard to learn something from every review. It's not always possible--especially if the reviewer isn't specific.

Rants? Lots.

1) Don't read books you know you won't like (genre, heat level, length.

2) Be specific about the things you disliked AND the things you liked.

3) Don't give the book a high rating or low rating based on some internal politics at your website. Do us both a favor--don't review my book!

4) READ THE BOOK! Can't tell you how many reviews I've had where it was obvious the reviewer simply skimmed the book. If I haven't engaged you enough to keep you reading, then just say "Did no finish." At least that's more honest than a false review.

5) Get the names right! My name, the title, the characters' names. Anything else just disrespectful.

6) If you're female, please don't read my book while you're PMSing.

7) If you re-read my book and change your mind, then please drop me a note and tell me about that. I need all the encouragement I can get.

Anny Cook said...

PS: GREAT blog site. Love her philosophy...

Natalie Dae said...

I'm praying this comment will go through, Anny...Blogger has been a bitch to me.

I cracked the hell up at #6!

anny cook said...

I had a review (a "2" where the woman actually said she went to bed early because she had cramps...)and did not find my book sufficiently entertaining.

Natalie Dae said...

OMG! She actually mentioned the bloody cramps? I've got a really bad one. I'll have to find it on my old site that I've shut down for public view and send it to you sometime. She *really* didn't like the book.

Madison Scott said...

Reviews are a toughie. I get all excited about the good ones, but bummed with the bad ones. I always swear I won't read more, but I do. lol.

I like the site and nice cover!

Laurann Dohner said...

I LOVE that cover!!!

Reviews - I like getting them. Good or bad (bad ones suck - I won't lie - and can depress me) but I've learned from both on what I'm doing right and wrong. I listen to them, ponder their points, and I wrote a book because of reader comments (Berrr's Vow in the 4th Zorn series) when I originally figured no one would want to read the dad's story! LOL (see... I'm always learning!!!) The only reviews I've really hated were ones where it was obvious they didn't really read it. I got one horrible one and everything was wrong about what they were saying from calling it a novella (full length in fact), to having the names wrong, and the storyline was off. I don't complain or comment. If it especially touched me...I've privately emailed them to thank them for making my day. LOL.

Natalie Dae said...

Madison, I think we all swear we won't read any more! Bloody things are evil, I say, the way they lure you to click on that link.

Natalie Dae said...

Laurann, learning from them is cool. I like the kind that gently explain where they thought I went wrong. It tells me if they read it properly or not. I have one where it's clear she didn't. God bless her, but she mentions something not being clear in the book, then mentions that she skimmed. That may well be why she missed the bit she didn't understand... *shrug* I feel for her that she didn't like the book, but at least she knows not to buy any of mine in the future.

Tess MacKall said...


Yep, I'm shouting it to the rooftops. Maybe the Too-Much-Sex Reviewer Fairy will help me out. lol

Anonymous said...

The irony of the Apocalypse::::
People told not to follow the Second Coming, who fail to recognize the urgency of the moment and die in the Apocalypse because of it.

Pick out someone else, do this again and discard this Situation.
The people who have learned were going to learn anyways. They're not the ones who need it.
The disfavored need it, people like my family, too far gone for any hope at ascention before The End, and they should be allowed moments if not periods of clarity before the decision is made about them.

I have explained how the gods are phasing out punishment as we get closer to the Apocalypse. Disfavor levels dictate there is insufficient time to repair their problems, relegating people to the Second Coming event.
I mentioned how old timers today may experience hell, albeit a "toned down" experience. I suspect the same is true in the context of prison:::The gods maintain a contstantly decreasing number of punitive intsitutions in case there is a need. But, over time they will be eliminated and the entire system will be quite amicable. Look for this pattern elsewhere as well, for the Gods are eliminating punishment throughout in preparation for the Apocalypse, for it is no longer necessary.

Anonymous said...


you can call me Val if I can call you Nat!! Hehe!!!

I've enjoyed reading all the comments here.

The 'too much sex' thing. sigh....yes, I've seen lots of comments about that. You'd think the pubs would take note? I feel for the authors who are told by their publishers to add more sex...but why??

Your average reader, in my humble opinion, really wants a story, not a sex manual...hehe!!!

I prefer lots of sexual tension....almost sex....then the big bang at the end....oh lovely!!!

I've also read too many stories where there are tense situations, on the run, been shot, knived or whatever and they can still have sex!! Haha!!!

Regina, I agree, there is always something good about a story.

Nat, getting a box of books every three months or so is awesome!!! I do help out with postage as it has to come all the way over the pond...but it's so exciting and indeed like Christmas every time!!

Anny, great points, will keep those in mind. :)

Tess, hope the review fairies are good to you....haha!!!

in Germany

Natalie Dae said...

Valerie, okay, you're on about the names, so...

Thanks for your cool input, Val!
Lotsaluv, Nat.

Hee hee!