A Prepublished Novel in the Process of Revisions and Rewrites

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Word About Reviews...

Sorry, I just couldn't resist:) I've been pulling out the autumn and Halloween stuff for the last couple of weeks so...

I've got what I think is a very important, possibly debatable subject, I'd like to discuss today. It's happened to me on two occasions and it actually happened to a good friend quite recently.

The subject is book reviews.

This is a process we must go through and a nailbiting, edge-of-the-seat wait. We never know when that first review will pop up, and we sure as hell don't know how our heart's work will be accepted. So we wait chewing our nails with bellies churning.

Finally, that first review comes out and you've either gotten notification from the review site, which is how I learned of most of my reviews or we finally find a crumb of info after googling our name day after day. Then we sit rigid afraid to actually click the review to see what it says.

Ohmigod! It's wonderful when you click, finally open your eyes, and read it and find it's a positive review. My first one was a 4 from Manic Readers for Curse of the Marhime. I about fell off my seat. My second review came in from LASR and was a 4.5 and Bitten by Books gave it a 4.5 as well. More came in within the same parameters. So it's all good, right? Technically, yes. But...

I'm sure every or at least most authors out there have experienced the nasty hateful reviewer that seems to blatantly and with malice to trash your book and your talent all at once. Fortunately, mine was not the first review I set my eyes on but it hurt just the same. I've had two reviewers write less than complimentary reviews about two different books, that I know of. I won't reveal the review sites, and I will acknowledge that I understand a review is just an opinion. So I am not putting this blog out to antagonize reviewers' opinions. What I do want to do is give authors who have received less than stellar reviews or feel they have been trashed a different point of view in regards to how they react to the bad review.

Two of my peers recently have written to me about some bad reveiws they received and when I read the reveiws I had to admit they could have been handled a bit differently. For one of the authors, it was her first review! I felt terrible for her, but told her that's just one person's opinion. Though I am sure it didn't make her feel any better. In fact, I know it didn't.

Before any reviewers out there that may be reading this blog react, I myself am a freelance reviewer. So I do have a right to voice my opinion on the way a reviewer approaches a review. But I would certainly love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Again, I will reiterate that I understand that everyone has an opinion and not everyone likes the same things. And to be perfectly honest, I never pay much attention to movie reviews or book reviews because if I did I'd probably never go to the movies or read the book, LOL how do I know if their tastes run along my tastes? Very important point here:)

The two reveiwers that gave me low numbers and had a lot of negative things to say about my books obviously did not like the type of books I wrote(and btw one of them admitted she didn't like the type of romance portrayed). So I ask, why would you read it in the first place? One of the reviewers even got the title of the book completely wrong with the cover art hovering right beside her review! That doesn't give her much creedence at least in my humble opinion.

Now, I'd like to discuss how I go forward with a review job.

If I get into a book that I truly don't like or the editing is really horrific, I stop reading it. I contact the liaison at the site and ask for it to be reassigned, which fortunately, is an option with the review site I work with. Some don't allow it and you must muddle through the review and do the best you can to be honest but not insult or hurt the author. Not an easy task. Why? Because I never want to discourage an author from persuing the craft and destroying any confidence said author has built within his or herself. It is a big step when a writer decides to submit a book. That writer is putting her/himself out there in a big, personal, naked sort of way. If you are not a writer you would never understand.

I will never give a book below a 3.5 because I just don't think it fair to the author. My opinion, my way of doing things. Obviously not everyone's cup of tea.

One of my peers was actually given a 0! How can you possibly give a book a 0? There is always something good to say about something. That is just moronic. The person who did that should not be reviewing books.

I'd like to hear what your take is on this subject. Many authors also review books so if you do, please pipe in. I'd like to know why it is necessary to blatantly ruin an author's work. I can't believe a publishing company would put out a book that didn't have something worth publishing between its bindings. Is it just me?



  1. And every word you told me was true!
    Don't let one bad review ruin your happiness and pride in accomplishment! Maybe they just didn't get it and someone else will.

  2. Great blog, Dayana. :)

    Being truthful in a review is essential, but it's important to remember there is a person behind the book. Even if you don't like their product, you need to treat the writer with respect, IMO. I would never write a mean review. As a writer myself, I understand all too well how much it hurts to get slammed. Unfortunately, I think people forget sometimes that a book represents so much more to the author than words on the page.

  3. Reviews are hard! Hard to write, hard to take. I've had a few now, and some I read and although I enjoyed the score of the review the reviewer didn't really tell me why she liked the book. On the other hand, I've read poor reviews where the reviewer didn't say exactly why she didn't like the book.

    Nothing deserves a 0. I'd discount that without a passing glance. If a reviewer admits to not liking the genre... I'd discount that as well. I've had to review more than one book where I really didn't like the genre but still I rated it as I do every book I read.

    1) Was it easy to put down? Did I not put it away until my eyes blurred?
    2) Did I beleive everything between the pages? Or was something so far fetched or the characters act out of character?
    3) Did the book keep me guessing, or was the plot predictable?

    Kinda simple... but exactly what I look at.

    A reviewers job is not to trash an author... if you want that go visit Smart Bitches - Trasy Books. They don't care who they piss off. You know you're gonna have a hard sell with them. If a review site allows reviewers to trash an author or publisher... Shame on them. Stop sending your books to them and go somewhere else... That doesn't mean all books are high on the rate scale, however. A book can be a 2 and still not trash the author. I've seen those reviews written, it can be done.

  4. Great input, Catherine. And I have to agree with you because though one reviewer gave one of my works a 3, she actually praised the story, the characters and said she enjoyed the read. A bit confusing but overall it was really a great review:) I'm not sure why a rated so low with her praise but what the hey.

    Hi, Mary. Absolutely right. Never take a bad review to heart. Just take what you can from the comments and toss the rest.

    Brava, Cari! Well said and sooo very true. Blood, sweat, heart and tears go into an author's book. It is essential for the reviewer to critique the book so the author will get something positive out of it even if the review is not the most stellar. As I said there is always something good in everything.

    Thank you for piping in here, ladies. This is an essential and important part of publication. And sometimes it will make or break an author. Let's have them walk away for the right reasons.


  5. We put pieces of our lives in books, art, music, etc. as well as blood, sweat, and tears. To intentionally squash someone's spirit with a 0 is blatant disrepect. No one has the right to do that. There's the old addage: If you can't say something nice... we can all finish this one in a rousing choral speak. No writer wants false compliments, and there is a time and a place to just say nothing.

    I agree with you, Dayana. Pick up a book because it interests you. The review, glowing or abyssmal, is one person's take on it. The power trip some reviewers get from malicious comments reveals a flaw in moral character. Their comments should hold NO credence with any of us.

    We all grin/dance/cry happy tears at the good reviews. It's great to know that our work, which has been queried, submitted, and sold to a publishing house is appreciated! But to trash an author's creation, without consideration of that writer's feelings, is simply venomous. And the review site or community that allows such to happen should be ashamed of themselves for letting this associate represent them to the reading public.

    Slamming, trashing, giving zeros... what a sad comment on human kindness. As a teacher, I flatly refuse to put a 0 on a paper. No one is EVER a complete failure. Reviews lower than a 3 shouldn't be posted. If a reviewer doesn't "get it", then take a pass on posting your all important comments. But don't destroy a writer's confidence for the world to read.

    Words are powerful tools. We as writers use them cautiously, reverently. Reviewers shouls as well. Thanks for addressing this issue.

  6. Hi, Mickey.

    Again well stated and some excellent points made.

    I remember in Geometry class, I just didn't get it. Couldn't get it and never would. My teacher coached me and did his best but it just didn't work in my mind, but the man, God bless his soul didn't fail me. I'd always been an honor roll student except for Algebra and Geometry. He gave me a "C" and I know I should have failed but the teacher knew I had given it my all and had compassion for me. He gave that grade because he knew I'd done my best.

    Every writer out there gives it their all. They deserve respect and fair treatment. They deserve constructive criticism not somebody's rant or careless thoughts.

    Thank you for piping in here, Mickey. Your thoughts are right on and very appreciated.


  7. I agree with you. There's no reason at all to be harsh. It just isn't right. You can critique and do it in a classy, sensitive way so the writer will learn and note be hurt.

  8. Stellar post, Dayana. We all empathize with the nail-biting bit. Thanks for the reminder that reviews are subjective.

  9. Oh, I just don't say anything if I can't think of something nice to say...

    I've earned a 1 from a reviewer! And then the next two reviewers rated the same story so high that you just couldn't find a connection other than the first reviewer was totally lost with my storytelling. I think taste is key here. If we all liked the same things, think of how boring the world would be--all vanilla or strawberry. And I'm a chocaholic. ;)

    A lot of reviewers are somewhere on the road to publication themselves. And their reviews reveal the steppingstone they crouch upon... I just read Kiss Carson's ILLUSIONS OF DESTINY. Ms. Carson's writing style is completely different from my own. But I couldn't put her novel down! And even though the things she did differently repeatedly caught my eye, I still had to tell the world her book is wonderful! I think some reviewers just need to grow a little. ;) Or I've been reading too much Zen. *snicker*

  10. Something that I don't understand about some reviews sites: they assign books, willy nilly, to their reviewers.

    IMHO, at the very least, let the reviewers select something in a genre that interests them. Why force a person who LOVES historical read a contemporary paranormal? Or vice versa?

    I know of several sites who assign reviews. As you know, there are also several sites who don't. I tend to think those reviews are more valid than the others because, if I'm a historical fan looking for a good historical, then another historical fan is the person I'd look to for recommendations.

    And, yes, reviews are absolutely one person's opinion. A tough thing to keep in mind when you're a writer -- and we all get bad reviews. Ouch.

    Even so, if you don't have a fairly thick skin, you shouldn't write for publication. If you put it out there, you have to be prepared to get smacked.

    Good post.

  11. Hi Dayana -- here's what I do about reviews: I don't read them. Seriously. Who has the time, anyway? I have a wonderful CP (Hi, Cari Quinn!) who sends me the good ones, LOL. And like all writers, I'm elated when I read them, even though I know there's probably another one out there that says the opposite.

    I began this practice after I received my first review for my first ever release, and it was mediocre. It really messed with my head. Who needs that? Ironically, my next review was a perfect score from The Romance Studio. Thanks, Cari, for bringing it to my attention ;).

    I don't generally write reviews, either, though I will when I'm asked to. I will never EVER trash another writer, and I will never EVER write anything other than a positive review. As you said, there's always something good to say. I know how much a negative review can sting.

    Writing is so subjective. As authors, if we find an editor who "gets" our voice, we're fortunate indeed. There will always be a reviewer out there who isn't moved by our work. Such is life.

  12. Hello, Historical Editor and Linda! Thank you so much for stopping by and piping in.

    Marianne! I am so glad you stopped by. You are absolutely correct that we put ourselves out there and yes we do need to thicken our skins but then the reviewers need to at least be constructive at least in my opinion:)

    Skhye, yes, I agree wholeheartedly. I'm a fellow chocaholic, LOL and yes the world would be boring without different opinions and tastes.

    I tend to like to stick with what I know when I review. And fortunately for me the site I review for allows me to do that:)


  13. Hey Helen. That is a great set up, LOL Only get the good ones, *grin*

    You make valid points as well and we all agree that the review process is subjective so my goal is met. Just wanted to open the floor to help authors(especially new ones) understand that bad reviews basically mean nothing more than the opinion of the person who read the story. Because the next reader may be taken away with the same story and have naught but wonderful things to say.


  14. Hey Dayana,

    As a reviewer, I always try to be honest, but professional, in my assessment. There is zero need to bash the work of another, and it is inexcusable (in my opinion) to do so. And in the event a story doesn't work for me, I'll do as you do and contact the higher-ups and pass it along to someone that might find enjoyment in the pages.

    I still get confused by reviewers that dislike a genre but continually review them and then rate poorly for it. If you're not into the paranormal, don't read it, simple as that. Why would you torture yourself, and in the process, the author?

    I've only recently started getting reviews for my first story. It's a wretched feeling, and the wait is terrible. I've gotten lucky thus far with a 4/5 Stars and a 18/20, but I'm fully aware the stock could plummet at any time.

    It's all a part of the game, I suppose. But as long as I review, it will be done without the snark.


  15. From Marianne~

    Even so, if you don't have a fairly thick skin, you shouldn't write for publication. If you put it out there, you have to be prepared to get smacked.

    Truer words have never been spoken!


  16. I've always felt if a reviewer doesn't like a certain genre, he should let someone else review it. I promised myself if I ever did that, I'd be fair. I'd start off with, "I don't generally like this type of book. However, this one..." and take it from there. One thing that personally irks me is when a reviewer points out something and wonders why it happens and points it out as a flaw in the story when the answer is there and he/she overlooked it. It says something about the reviewer: He didn't have enough civility to give the writer his full attention and read the entire story but just skimmed it.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. First and foremost, I'm honest about a book. If I didn't particularly care for the book I always try to point out the good things about the writing.

    I have found quite a few books that I thought I couldn't finish, but I kept pluggin' along and found that I did like the book.

    Now saying that - I might not like that one book, but that doesn't mean that I might not like another from the same author. I don't feel that being nasty or mouthy online in regards to a book, cause just because it doesn't appeal to you doesn't mean that it's not going to appeal to someone else.

    I always let my readers know not to take my word for it - give it a try.

    My ratings start at 1 -5 skulls. The lowest I've gone has been 2 skulls, but I wasn't nasty about it.

    I'm sure there are a lot of reviewers out there that feel the same way.

    Take the bad with the good and keep movin' right along. Same things happen to others!

  19. Ruthie! Hi! I'm so glad you got into this conversation. If I remember correctly you had a similar blog up maybe last year. We did talk of collaborating a blog of this subject matter:)

    As a reviewer, I am so happy that you piped in here. Your site is well-known to me and respected. You have always given a fair shake to every book you've read.

    Thanks again for speaking your mind. I know authors do appreciate a good honest review. I do. It gives me direction in what I do well and what I need to work on.


  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. Just caught up with this conversation. As I said on your other post I've received one really bad review (thankfully just the one) and it really hurt.

    Yes, I know one has to be prepared to 'get smacked' and it's just one person's opinion. I'm also prepared to learn if the reviewer makes a valid criticism of something. But this one didn't.

    She didn't like the genre and she didn't like my descriptive scenes (other reviewers said they loved them) OK. I can accept that What really got me was that she gave away the whole plot, including the ending, which she thought was my attempt at a 'twist ending'. Huh? Would you give away someone's twist ending however much you hated it? I wouldn't. In fact the ending was never intended to be a twist, it just happened that way and everyone else who's mentioned it agrees it's the only logical way it could have ended, and there were clues alog the way. The real 'twist' in the story was something entirely different!

    Yes, I can accept not everyone is going to like my book but this reviewer did not have one good thing to say about it, not one. She made it obvious she hated it. Thank goodnes for my other lovely reviews which restored my confidence, or I might never have written anothe word. I don't think I could ever be a professional reviewer, but I have belonged to crit groups and however bad the writing I was asked to crit was, I could always find something positive to say. Everyone has certain strengths as well as weaknesses. As others here have said, no publisher is going to publish a book that is so bad no-one wants to read it, so a reviewer should be able find something positive to say, even if they give it a low rating.