Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Facing the Critics

I learnt in the week that there are some writers who never read their reviews.  I find that really odd!

Now I can see that if you avoid looking at them, you never get upset by the people who don't like your offerings but then you'd never get to see the praise from those who do, would you?

As a writer, I love to know that someone has enjoyed one of my books or that I've made them laugh or cry - it makes my job worthwhile and never fails to bring a smile to my face.  I'm fortunate enough to only have received a handful of bad reviews (so far - touch wood and all that malarkey!) and I have to admit they hurt for a little while but then I go on to remind myself that they are in the minority and you can't please everyone.

A couple of my funniest have been from someone who insists on buying all of my books and then slating them - why?  Give up on me! I'm clearly not writing the stuff that you want, so move on.  To call the characters in 'Stilettos and Stubble' bizarre, is just ... well, bizarre!  It's set in a drag club!  Would you have preferred nuns?!

Then we had the only ever 1* review for 'Diary of a Mummy Misfit', stating:

Plastic dummy
Sorry, I found this lady empty and rather sad, could not get into the story, I just wanted to redirect the girl into more important things! 

Erm ... it's chicklit!  It's about a mother at a school, finding her feet and making friends and enemies along the way.  Had I wanted to write about Mother Theresa and a pitiful orphanage or saving the rainforests, I would have done!

But enough about my reviews, I also spend a lot of time reading other authors' reviews too - it's part of the job and helps me to see what chicklit readers like and dislike. I can assure you, there are some truly nasty people out there.  Let me share some of my findings with you (without revealing the authors' or reviewers' names)

*  there are a good number of readers who will download a book when it's free - knowing full well that it's not their usual genre - and then give it a 1* review because it's 'chicklit'.  Rude!  Very, very rude!

* Then we have the ones who loathe a book so much they have to give the whole plot away to spoil it for any future readers.  Amazon insist that no spoilers are given but they will turn a blind eye and ignore anyone who complains to them.  I once spent many hours on the phone and writing emails to try to get a friend's spoiler review removed  - to no avail.

* An odd category here - the readers who purchase a book and then give it 1* saying, 'Haven't had time to read but I'm sure I will enjoy this book.'  What the?  With one fleeting sentence, you've brought a writer's ratings down because of your stupidity.

* People will also get on their high horse about prices of celebrity books.  I've seen many 1* reviews for books that were 'Far too pricey to buy. Not lining their pockets!'  OK, I agree celebs are flooding the market with overpriced tat but it's the publishers who set the price and to leave a review based on that is just wrong.

* I once saw a review for a book that had obviously been purchased second hand on Amazon and the buyer gave the author a 1* because the book 'was bent and smelly'!  Had I been that author I would have had to leave a comment or at least found where the person lived and slapped them with a frozen lettuce.

* There is one charming young lady on Amazon who only EVER leaves 1* reviews.  Clearly the right book has never been written for her!  Frustrated writer, maybe?

* Many readers will happily download free or affordable Indie works and then write review after review about how much the book needed a 'good editor'.  Do they ever stop and think why they're getting a bargain read?  Indies have to price their books to sell - we are swimming in a sea of anonymity and we need to do everything in our power to get our books flying from the virtual shelves.  That means a realistic price which doesn't allow for the luxury of a professional editor.  Capish?  Yes, mistakes can slip through but nobody's perfect - not even the top publishing houses.

So there you go, my thoughts and findings on reviews and reviewers.  If you're an avid reader and have loved a book, do you leave glowing reviews?  If you've read a book that you hate, do you just keep quiet? (like me! - I hate to diss somebody's baby)

Next time you read a book that you love, leave a few lines at Amazon.  It makes us writers smile and as I always say, 'Your words help to sell mine.'



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