Gain Perspective on Reviews

I've been thinking about reviews because I cleaned out some old files and found a list of reviewers from 15 years ago.

The dozen printed pages listed reviewers all across the nation. I wondered how many still reviewed books.

Ah, Reviews *sigh*

As authors, we're always begging readers to post a short review. We give away books and price books really low, hoping readers will grab our books, read them, like them, and post reviews.

As we all know, unfortunately, that doesn't mean you're always going to get good reviews. I've been in this business a long time so I can usually blow it off. Others who are new to baring their souls in public, aren't so fortunate.

Yes, it's crushing to read a review where the reader hated your book. That's even worse than a review in which every plot point and surprise in your book is revealed rather than letting the reader be delighted by those events you worked so hard to produce.

Always Puzzling

The puzzling reviews are those that rave about the book and then rate it 3 stars. To me, 3 stars means average--nothing special. An author friend asked about a month ago if the 3-star review is the new 5-star. I don't know. Maybe it is.

Some authors refuse to read their reviews. Bad ones can disrupt their work in progress. I usually don't have the time to check each book page for new reviews. When I do take a few minutes to do this, I'm equally delighted and sometimes chagrinned because I find good and bad ones.

Just in case you're wondering, no, I haven't received any necessarily bad reviews lately. But I'm sure I will get my fair share.

Tips Just For You

1. Copy and paste each good review into a file. Print the file out, 3-hole punch it, and put those pages into a binder. Keep the binder handy. Add to it every time you get a good review.

2. Celebrate the "bad" review with a usually forbidden treat like a cupcake containing the words you might wish to say to the reviewer in question.

3. Read, glean any useful information, and move on, knowing you're in good company because all authors get bad reviews.

Author, Gain Perspective

An author must gain perspective on this whole review situation. Reader reviews are a different kind of animal than the formal review we often received for our traditionally publisher books.

1. If you have a majority of negative reviews and they all mention the same thing, then look objectively at your manuscript and see if it needs improving in the area mentioned. Learn from them and move on.

2. Never take those bad reviews personally regardless of what they say. Those who post reviews that resemble personal attacks more than reviews are usually unhappy individuals. Say a prayer for them and move on. 


All authors get bad reviews. Make a list of 10 of your favorite famous authors and go to some of their book pages. Check out the reviews. You may be amazed at how many bad reviews you find.

A case in point is Ain't She Sweet, one of my favorite novels, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, an author who is an immediate buy for me.  This book has mostly 4 and 5 star reviews, but the 1, 2, and 3 star reviews are scathing! Readers call the book dull (it's not) and slam it for being billed as a romantic comedy (it is hilarious but also has emotional depth).

The bad reviews of this fabulous book just underscore the fact that reading taste is subjective.

Maybe we should all print that sentence out, frame it, and put it next to our monitor so we can read it aloud when we get dinged with a bad review.

Then go read the binder you should be keeping about your good reviews.

Takeaway Truth

Not everyone will love my book or yours, but some readers will. Focus on the praiseworthy remarks in that binder you should be keeping instead of on the negative.

Then take a deep breath. Life goes on.

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