Tuesday, July 17, 2012

On Reviews

I will admit, I read my reviews. I occasionally Google to see if there any out there I haven't seen. Maybe that makes me self-absorbed, but I don't care. I want to know what people who've read my books think of them. I want to know what a reader didn't like about them, as well as what they liked. I'm curious. And partly, there is a delicious sort of feeling that comes with a four or five star review and why a certain book garnered those four or five stars.

To be honest, I'm even more interested in the lower starred reviews. I want to know why a particular book didn't work for a particular reason. If the same reason shows up in different reviews, it means there might be a weakness that needs working on.

And I'll admit, it's tough to read some of the less than glowing reviews. One reviewer of Eden's Pass said she hated the heroine so much, she wished the hero had killed her. Ouch. That stung because I always liked Finn. I never realized she might garner some serious dislike amongst readers. And when I read that review, I realized that the reviewer missed something important earlier in the story. If she hadn't, perhaps she wouldn't have hated Finn quite as much as she did. I debated about replying (and we all know what that usually leads to, so I opted not to in the end) and pointing out what she'd missed. But then I thought better of it. Although it stung, it wasn't an attack on me. It wasn't personal. It was one person's opinion. And that person was entitled to her opinion.

That's the thing with reviews. As authors, we need to put out the best story we can. But when it comes to reviews, perhaps our best is not the reviewer's, and not everyone is going to love every single golden word that goes down on paper. If someone's paid good money for one of my books and they didn't like it, and they want to post a review on Goodreads or Amazon saying so, the hard-earned cash they plunked down for my book gives them the right to say why they didn't like the story.

And that does not - I will repeat this part - it does not make them a bully. It doesn't make the reviewer a wannabe failed author who is exacting revenge by writing negative reviews (okay, maybe some instances this is the truth, but I highly doubt it's the majority of bad reviews. Sometimes, people just aren't that into your book. It happens. Get over it.) It certainly is NEVER justification for "outing" the reviewer and possibly putting her or her family in any sort of danger.

Whether I like it or not, I am a public figure. I put my work out there and take the chance that someone might not like it. I know, when I open that computer file, or sign that contract, or turn in final edits, that someone will (hopefully :D) buy it. And while I'd love it if everyone could see what an obvious literary genius I am (kidding!), it just ain't gonna happen.

But the reality is, reviews aren't for the author. They are for the reader. And I do NOT want anyone thinking they need to defend me from someone who doesn't like it. As a matter of fact, I don't want you speaking for me. I don't want you attacking a reviewer for me and I sure as hell would NEVER want you "outing" a reviewer on my behalf. Ever. Not cool. So. Not. Cool.

So, while it's not nearly as fun to read a two-star review as it is to read a five-star review, so be it. I'm a big girl, I'll get over it. And anyone who feels the self-righteous need to out someone because they didn't like certain book needs to stop and think about how they would feel, if someone posted their personal information all over the internet.

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