Reviews have really been on my mind lately. Now, that could be because I've had two books published this year - The Lone Warrior (BerkleySensation) and Guilty as Sin (Ellora's Cave) - but I've never ever quite known how to handle reviews.
As a reader, I find them genuinely useful. I don't follow them slavishly, but when I see a lot of people all saying the same thing, I have to admit, I do pay attention. After all, that's my hard-earned credit card I'm plunking down. Like anyone else, I want to get my money's worth out of my reading experience. I positively hate buying a lemon!
But when it comes to my own book babies, the boot is firmly on the other foot. ;) I find criticism much harder to take - and I've had some doozies, believe me! Most reviewers from review sites will make a genuine effort to provide constructive, well-reasoned feedback. That's fine, I appreciate it. But sadly, a few are no more than snide and carping.
I don't deal with the negative stuff at all well. It used to depress me for days, but I've learned to skim the occasional bad ones and then put them out of my mind. I have to, for my own sanity. Otherwise, I'd never write another word.
Here, I do need to make the point that I've had loads of positively glowing reviews, all right?! Lots of people enjoy the hell out of my books, honest they do. You can read what they say on my website. I've even won awards, so there!
But reviews have changed since I was first published (waaay back in 2006!). These days everyone and her auntie has the right to speak their minds about my work. And yes, they're paying customers, so why not? (For example, take a look at the reviews for Guilty as Sin on Goodreads or Ellora's Cave and you'll see what I mean.)
No reason at all and I understand that my books don't float everyone's boat in the same way that other readers are totally on my wavelength. Bless you all, my dears! I'm profoundly grateful to anyone who takes the time and trouble to write me a favourable review.
So yes, reading is a completely subjective experience, filtered through our own life events and emotional attitudes. But some people are weird. Like the woman who gave a book of mine a one star rating when not even I had the final proofs from the publisher. She just knew she was going to hate it in advance?? And of course, her real self (unlike mine) was nicely hidden behind an avatar.
Of course, the best - and by far, the most dignified - policy is not to engage in online fisticuffs over sucky reviews. It's a baaad idea! A few foolish authors who've done it discovered the hard way it makes everything hurt worse.
I'm interested in your opinions about reviews. And I'm giving away an ecopy of Guilty of Sin to a lucky commenter, so let's hear it!
- Do you write reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Ellora's Cave or wherever? Or do you just do ratings?
- Do you pay any attention at all to reviews when you're deciding what to buy?
- If you're a writer, do you read reviews of your own work?
- If there's a bad one - that is, just plain mean - how do you cope with it?
And that's all TRUE! Honest!
You can read all the first chapters of Denise's books on her website - and the (good) reviews too if that's not enough for you.
She also writes a monthly newsletter full of giveaways, freebies and fun stuff. And if that's not enough, you can find her on Twitter and Facebook.