The Problem with Bad Reviews
I’ve developed a thicker skin and published enough books now that I can “forget” bad reviews after a day or so, but the first ones brought me to my knees, sobbing. Well, I forget in a week or two maybe. Bad reviews still sting. I’m sure this is true for anyone offering a product or a service as well. It’s all too easy to get on Yelp and shoot your mouth off.
It’s sadly true that not everyone will love your book.
There are readers out there who will hold the corner of your book by two fingers and allow it to drop—with a disdainful sniff—into the garbage. It’s simply not what they like to read. Just hope they don’t own a poison pen and write a nasty review on Amazon and Goodreads. Or Yelp.
I’m exasperated by reviews that state forthrightly that they didn’t like a book because they don’t like that genre. If you knew it was a bodice ripper and you don’t like steamy bodice rippers why read it? Why review it? Just because you wanted to be mean? Anonymously?
I suppose for some people, probably writers themselves, there’s no more delicious thrill than to do a jealous hatchet job, and write the bad reviews, anonymously of course.
I know it’s subjective whether or not you like a book. Our reading tastes are usually pretty well formed by the time we’re old enough to be able to afford buying books. (MP) I love crime fiction, but certain kinds much, much more than others. I don’t like the lightest, fluffiest cozies and I don’t like the darkest, most pitiless hard-boiled noir fiction. I write police procedurals, that’s stories told from some kind of law enforcement point of view, and I like reading them as well.
But I’m not going to be a review whore, somebody who likes everything and no superlative is too much.
I know I’m not the only book buyer who picks something that looks interesting with a string of 5-star reviews on Amazon and then wonder who wrote these reviews?
Amazon discounts the first 15 reviews, I hear, assuming they’re from your friends and relatives. But the others? Is this a drunk, or high-midnight buzz, enthusiasm? Try as I might I read along trying to catch fire the way these reviewers insist I’m going to feel. “Kept me up all night reading…” Here I am, yawning, and kicking myself for having spent good money on this.
I’ve tried to develop some rules for myself about giving reviews. If I don’t like a book that I bought, I don’t really need to review it. But I’ve been in the writing game long enough that I know writers with new books who ask me to review them. Because I know how hard it is to get reviews, sometimes I’ll say yes and then regret it.
I use variants of, “It’s a fine book. The genre is just not for me”. I’ve relented under pressure and given an extra star or two to books that didn’t deserve them. When I write a review, I try to be generous, especially if this is a new writer, because I also know how hard it is to write a book—any book.
After all, I’m only human.
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Here’s a link to my books and their reviews on Amazon I hope you’ll see there’s many more good reviews than the sprinkle of bad ones: My Books on Amazon