Let's talk about book reviews--the kind that make an impression on authors.
Sometimes, we gripe about bad reviews, but we love to celebrate when we get a positive one. Today, I thought I'd profile a dozen authors who talk about reviews.
Celia is the author of Charlotte and the Tenderfoot. She loved this review for what she calls her Dime Novel:
"Loved this Kindle download. I am an avid reader, and just loved this story." ~ Margaret A. Bigley, BookSmart
Celia said, "It's more difficult to get a very good review for a 20,000 word story, I think. But this reader made me realize there is a market and wonderful readers. This review was encouraging--loved it!"
Anne Marie Novark
Anne Marie is the author of Midnight My Love, a Regency romance novel dear to her heart. She was thrilled to receive a reader review stating: "Usually, I never take the time to write reviews, however, this novel spoke to me. I appreciated the way the author unraveled the complexity of the hero . . . The author's continuous reinforcement of the heroine's strength while keeping her feminity at the surface was truly extraordinary."
Anne Marie said, "This review meant a lot because, speaking to readers, hoping they "get" your story and characters, is the reason I write in the first place."
Cheryl told me that after "New York publishing" eight historical novels set in Regency England, she'd lost her love of the regencies because New York wanted sexual titles and sexual premises, and that wasn't what had drawn her to the period.
Cheryl has embraced indie publishing while still selling to New York. Her most recent indie release, His Lordship's Vow, a "sweet" love story, received a review (from KV Kawamoto) that validated what she had been trying to achieve in her indie books.
"Thank you so much for writing a story of ROMANCE. Ms Bolen makes reading about the hero and heroine enjoyable and romantic. She has made them personable and intelligent. . . And thank God, it has none of that erotic sex (or porn), which is so prevalent in the books today."
(Note: The reader makes a good point. There are many readers who don't want hot, steamy sex in their novels. With the rise in hot, steamy romances, publishers stopped acquiring sweet romances, leaving those readers who like their books without spice in reading limbo. There is a HUGE market for these books. Indie publishing can bring traditional Regency romances and contemporary sweet romances to the masses that hunger for them.)
Elaine Raco Chase
This review for Rules of the Game meant a lot because it was written by a 'fella,' and he locked into everything I was trying/hoping to get across as a writer. Loved the fact he said he became my male character!
"Rules of the Game ... is chock-full of silky, sexy, entertainment. Elaine's writing style is expressive, fun, and scintilating. From a male perspective, the synergetic and sensual choreography between Adam and Samantha (she's totally hot, but certainly not arrogant or a pushover) made me feel as though I was literally standing next to them anywhere they were, eagerly watching, eavesdropping...and digging every moment of it. In fact, in my mind as I read along, I WAS Adam. Rules of the Game is an alluring tale, which left me with a smile on my face. I later came back to it again to savor several of my favorite passages one more time. Whew! Is it hot in here...or is it just me? I think it's both me AND Rules of the Game. I would definitely recommend it to all the fellas out there. Special shout out to Elaine for also wonderfully integrating the Wounded Warrior Project into Rules of the Game. Nice touch and a worthy cause." ~ David L. Brown "Sports Writing Maven" (Northeast Ohio)
Pamela S Thibodeaux
Pamela is the author of The Visionary. She took special delight in the review from Michelle Sutton that said, "I was blown away by the realism of the emotion in this novel & impressed with this author's ability. I see this story being effective toward healing the emotional lives of people who have been abused.”
Pamela said: "This is why I write - to bring hope and healing to a hurting world!"
Sheri Cobb South
Sheri is the author of Miss Darby's Duenna. She said, "Even a mixed review can lead to positive results. All About Romance likened my regency romance to "I Love Lucy in historical costume."
"It wasn't entirely a compliment, meaning that the comedy overpowered the romance, at least in the reviewer's opinion. Still, while doing a radio interview the day before a book signing, I mentioned that comparison. The next day, I arrived at the bookstore to do the signing, and was told that people had already been calling that morning, asking how they could buy "that I Love Lucy book!"
Caroline is the author of Brazos Bride. She was extremely pleased with the following Top Pick review from Barb at Night Owl Reviews.
"I found this book to be very entertaining. I read it in one afternoon because I had to know who was trying to murder Hope, the heroine. Her interaction with Micah and their relationship was the heart of the story. I really got into the story and the characters. The mystery of just who of the many characters were the evil ones kept me reading and turning pages (so to speak) on my Kindle. I was unable to stop reading this book until I finished it. That really says something for the author's plot and cast of characters. I enjoy these types of books, but this one was exceptional. I will be patiently waiting for the stories of Micah's brothers, Zach and Joel. I see the potential for some very good stories following these brothers' lives. Good job in making me want more.
Caroline said, "This is the only review I sought for my indie published book, and it means a lot to me that the reviewer liked it and wanted to read future books about the brothers. This book is the first of a trilogy and I'm currently at work on the second book. I hope she'll also like it."
Her new novel Death Legacy will be published April 12, 2012, by Five Star/Gale (hardcover only at this time). You can read the full review in its entirety at Booklist Online.
Jacqueline said, "The review was well-written. I particularly appreciated the concluding sentence."
"Seewald (The Drowning Pool, 2009; The Truth Sleuth, 2011) has written a tale of international intrigue sure to please fans of thrillers and romantic suspense." ~ Shelley Mosley
Bobbie, a romance author, was especially proud of a Publisher's Weekly review of her novel Lone Tree.
The PW reviewer said, "...engrossing tale of family and love with intriguing and well-developed characters."
Bobbie said, "Lone Tree was a family saga built around a romance (or vice-versa) so the reviewer hit it on the head. That was exactly the book and characters I was trying to write."
Gail is the author of The Lost Artist, a new hardcover mystery from Five Star/Gale.
She was relieved to read her review from Kirkus Review that said: "In a departure from her Leigh Girard mysteries (Death's Door, 2009, etc.), Lukasik has crafted a highly intriguing tale loaded with suspense and historic interest."
Gail said, "I had taken a risk and written a stand-alone mystery that diverged not only from my series but also from my usual style of writing. The review from Kirkus gave me confidence to try other writing projects outside my usual comfort zone."
Vijaya says she is always nervous before the first review of a new book comes out. But when that review finally comes and it’s a 4.5 stars, like in her recent review of Princess of Bretagne, it’s time for her to celebrate.
"Schartz paints a realistic picture of life in a medieval castle, with all its smells, tastes, visuals, and feelings, and as always, all the primary, as well as the secondary characters are well-developed and interesting. I’m looking forward to the others in this series." ~ Roberta, Manic Readers.
Vijaya said, "This review meant even more this time, because this was the very first book in a new series, and historical romantic fiction was a brand new genre for me."
Often, good reviews give an author motivation to keep writing. I think perhaps readers who post reviews sometimes lose sight of the fact that there's a real live person behind each book. If you get bad reviews, take heart. Name any vastly successful book, and you'll find someone who hated it.
I like to remember what the great Kurt Vonnegut once said, "Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae."