Let’s talk reviews

I bring this up because on writer’s forums, there’s always a post or two that is discussing reviews – how to deal with great ones, what to think of harsh ones, etc, etc. I generally feel that people are allowed to review as they please. I DO feel that if the review attacks the person, rather than the work – eh. That’s a little much. You’re not reviewing the person. You’re supposed to be reviewing the work or the product. I know that’s the focus for me when I write reviews.

We all have a stereotype of what we think of reviewers. The sort of image that is often presented is something like this:

reviewer

In reality, reviewers, because I am also someone who reviews books, are more like this:

giphy

People review because they feel strongly about something. Good or ill.

I got a critical review recently, and of course, like most people, I have to look. I was a little nervous, honestly.

Ya know what? It was totally fair. And the reviewer – well, critical reviewers should take note. This person pointed out what they didn’t care for about the book. What they felt went against the standards for the genre, and what their problems with the story were.

They also threw me a nice compliment, so that’s good.

I read it, and then read it again. And I did something that I never, ever thought I would do when reading someone not liking my baby. I shrugged. Why? Because the comments were fair, and I knew there might be readers who felt the way this reviewer did. I’m totally good with a critical review that is balanced. Since this is the first time I’ve faced such, I didn’t know what I’d think/do/how I’d react.

I will also tell you, I went and look at the way in which I categorized my story, and the reader was correct, I wasn’t hitting the standards for one of the categories. So I changed it. Because it was a legit comment.

So the lesson for today? If you are not at a point where you can stay away from reading reviews, make your shocked face and then read it again, with an open mind. You may find there is just as much to a critical review as there is to a positive, glowing review.

To me, it’s no different than when I sit in critique group and hear what didn’t work for my crit partners. It’s hard. It’s hard not to jump up and defend our babies. But not all work will resonate with all readers, and I am glad they took the time to offer a fair, balanced critical review.

I also need to shout out to the wonderful reader who reviewed my book on two sites, and then put it on her blog! Wow! What a compliment! Thank you! Again, another thoughtful, critical review from someone who obviously knows the genre and is a dedicated reader. I LOVED it.

Last piece of advice for my fellow authors – DO. NOT. ENGAGE. This is something that I also see discussed. Just don’t do it. Reviews are generally not for us, the creator. They are for fellow readers, to let them know what’s what. We are just fortunate enough to get to read them.

Oh! One last thing – thank you to ALL my reviewers who have not posted spoilers. I read reviews of books I’m considering, and I don’t like reading spoilers in the reviews. I’m always thankful to read a review of my work or anyone else’s that doesn’t throw out the plot surprises. Or, a nice warning at the beginning of the review.

So there’s my PSA for today. I like to share with you all as I move through this journey of becoming a FT author. Not there yet, but every day is one step further down the road.

Now go write!

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