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Thursday, 26 April 2012

Book Reviews – Love them or hate them

I don’t know about other writers but when any of my books is out for review, I shake in my shoes. Most authors, at one time or another, doubt their books. They fluctuate between thinking it’s the greatest story ever published, and it’s the crappiest book ever written. Being the doubting Thomas’s that we are, it’s usually the latter. Even in the middle of writing our latest offering, there are more ‘crap’ crises, than ‘this is wonderful’ moments. So can you wonder I shake in my shoes when a review is imminent.
Thoughts pound in my head affecting my ability to function as a normal human being. What if the reviewer doesn’t like it? What if he/she thinks it’s the crappiest thing ever written? At this stage I’m wondering if it is. When the review goes up I’m almost afraid to look, but I have to. I have to know the worst.

Then there are the reviews that pop out of nowhere, usually on Amazon. Now the law of averages stipulates that if a reader likes a book, even loves it, they won’t bother to comment. However, if they hate it, if it disappoints them, if it’s not the kind of book they expected, then spleen must out, and it appears in the form of a review.
Now, I don’t mind the odd bad review, not everyone can like everything. But the ones that say little more than this book was awful, and not giving any reasons, strikes me as a bit unfair. If a reader really thinks this then surely some comments about what it was they didn’t like are more useful to another reader contemplating reading it.

Similarly, with reviews that simply say this book was marvellous. It tells you nothing. I much prefer balanced reviews. You know the kind of thing that says this bit was good, but this bit wasn’t, regardless of how many stars they are awarding. At least it says something about the book and gives future readers more information to make their decision.

Now having got all that off my chest, I have to say that my reviews are mostly in the 4 and 5 star category, and out of the lot I think I’ve only got two reviews with 2 stars, so that’s not too bad. And no, I don’t have that many friends and relatives, and most of them wouldn’t know how to write a review anyway. And being the bashful person I am I wouldn’t ask them to do that in any case. I’m just thankful if they read the books.

However, a review of Night Watcher went up today on the Indie Ebook Review site which absolutely amazed me. It took a really different view of the book from the norm. The reviewer indicated she wasn’t a crime thriller reader and I think that was why she came up with something different. I must say some of the review gave me cause to think. But, you know, she was spot on with her comments and she saw things no other reviewer had seen. Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention, she said that ‘if Jane Austen wrote crime fiction this is the book she would have written’. Must say I’ve never been compared to Jane Austen before. And it gets better, because she also compared me to Agatha Christie. WOW! That’s kudos in buckets.

Reviews are something every author has to take in their stride. They are necessary because they inform potential readers what to expect. But that doesn’t stop the fear element when you know one is about to be published.

How do you feel about reviews? Do you take them in your stride, or like me, do you shake in your shoes at the thought of what they will say?

Thanks for listening and cheerio until the next time


Bill Kirton said...

I'm with you on the whole review reaction, Chris. I think those like the one you quote are useful when they reveal something that the author didn't realise was there. I agree, too, that just saying a book's rubbish is no use to anyone and seems to serve only some negative urge in the reviewer. One reviewer said of my comedy book, which won the gold award last year “Your adverbs look corny and misplaced” - and that was the most polite of his many complaints.

JO said...

I've been lucky - my book's not been out long, and so far all the reviews have been fab. And have made me feel smug - so no doubt one will come along soon that has me snivelling into my wine. Maybe I should come back and let you know!

Chris Longmuir said...

The best thing you can do if you get a bad review is to ignore it. Funnily enough when one of my books got a two star review, the sales suddenly went up.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Great post, Chris - and I'm with you on the nail-biting wait for reviews! Left a comment on Cally's blog post.

Melanie said...

I'm not there yet, but I'll be terrified of what I'm afraid the reviews will say and will look at them cringing with one eye closed.

If someone is going to write a bad review and only say the book stinks or is rubbish or whatever and doesn't substantiate their feelings, then it's not worth getting upset over. Those people obviously have nothing better to do.