Monday, September 14, 2015

Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play? The relationship between Authors and their Book Reviews

If you are an author, you will have a love/hate relationship with your book reviews.  Every author’s heart soars when they read a glowing review – after all who doesn’t love to hear that someone liked your work.  Unfortunately, what goes up must come down, and our hearts drop like a stone when we read those negative reviews. 

Reviews are essential for an author.  They not only help us to hone our writing skills, but reviews can be an important marketing tool.  As the number of positive reviews increase, book sales and exposure go up as well. 

I really do try to listen to the feedback that readers give me.  I really do want to improve my writing. I also know that some things are simply subjective – some people will find humor where others will not.  The one thing I do not understand is reviews that are mean-spirited or just plain unhelpful. 

The good news so far is that I have only received a couple poor reviews (2 star ratings on Amazon or Goodreads) and I have not received any 1 star ratings.  That is, I guess, something to celebrate.

I wanted to take the opportunity to share some of the ‘poor’ ratings I received because they clearly illustrate the challenge that authors have with reviews. 

I recently received this review on Amazon for “The Misadventures of Me and My Uterus” along with a two star rating.
I can understand the high reviews this book has, it has great humor and every woman would relate to this book. Once I started reading the book I am not sure if this is the book that has high reviews; it could be that I my expectation was high that I was a bit disappointed. I was expecting an autobiography, but it was turning more like a medical book with some of the terms I am not familiar with. 

I admit I was confused by this review – she did say it has great humor and every woman would relate to this book, right?  I do understand she did not like the medical jargon included in this book, and that is a very valid point.  I also understand that sometimes when expectations are too high I wind up not liking something because it fails to meet them.  I did try to ensure that all medical terminology was clearly explained, but clearly this reader did not understand the material presented.  The majority of the book is a memoir of my personal experience with several healthcare issues so medical jargon was unavoidable, but I can see her point and I do appreciate her purchasing and reading my book, as well as taking the time to leave feedback. 

I did find it amusing that a different Amazon customer that I have never met actually left a comment on this review:
People ought to be willing to learn something new and not expect to merely be comforted and/or entertained by a book. Books are for mental exercise, after all.

The next review I want to share is also for “The Misadventures of Me and My Uterus” from one of the Amazon UK customers who also gave my book a 2 star rating:
I wanted to like this book I really did but I found it dull. There was some interesting info here but sandwiched by material that was highly irrelevant (such as how great her partner is). That said, writing was good and clear, although not necessarily amusing.

Once again – humor is highly subjective and while lots of readers enjoyed my sarcasm, this particular reader did not.  At least she thought my writing was good and clear, if not amusing, and I am sorry that she did not appreciate me including my then fiancé into the story, but it is MY story after all, and he really is pretty great. 

The final review I wanted to share is similar to one that many authors struggle with, a review that is too short & does not provide helpful info. This reviewer gave 2 stars for my new short story, “The Locket” and it said only:
Would of been better as a longer story.

Seriously?  Umm – it said SHORT STORY in the description.  Is that the only reason you gave it two stars?  Did you like any of it?  This is an incredibly frustrating review. It provides very little useful information.  

Reviews are essential and even negative reviews can be helpful sometimes.  Authors will always have to deal with some negative reviews, after all you can't please everyone.

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