C is for...

Critics.

When I set out to write books, my motivation was to try to inspire at least one person to see the world in a positive way. I hoped that single positive change would have a ripple effect and impact many others. Soon after releasing my first book, I received a private message from a reader telling me she was so moved by my story. I felt I had truly succeeded at using my words to make the world a better place. It encouraged me to pick up my laptop and work on my next book.

But like Statler and Waldorf, the infamous hecklers on the Muppet Show, there are people that boldly vocalize their dislike for something. But is that such a bad thing?


WALDORF: They aren't half bad. 

STATLER: Nope, they're ALL bad!

I'm not gonna' lie, when my book received a 1 star rating, I was crushed. I could not help but read the review to find out why the reader felt it deserved such a poor rating. One of her reasons included, "I found Brogen to be selfish and incredibly rude." The defensiveness came out and I found myself saying, "aren't most 17 year olds selfish?" A five star review for the SAME book said this, "Rarity touched me way more than I ever thought it would when I read the summary." Polar opposites on the review spectrum. And for some reason, Rarity has that effect on readers. It seems you will either fall head over heels for the story or hate it - there's no in between.

So here's what I learned about reviews:
-Bad reviews will exist, if you worry they may shake your confidence...don't read them. Stick to the 4 & 5 star reviews to drive you through your next writing project.

-Bad reviews that offer constructive criticism can be a learning opportunity. I learned that readers of Rarity wished it was longer. They also wished it showed a bit more of the male MC's point of view. These were two important criticisms that I was careful to be mindful of when writing my next book.

-Using a chocolate chip cookie analogy...You can make the best chocolate chip cookies in the world, even win awards for the recipe - but there will still be people that hate chocolate chip cookies.

-What to do if you get a bad review... put the pencil to the paper and keep writing. EVERY book I have written has been better than the one before it. Don't give up. Push forward and get working!

-Shouldn't I comment and correct the reviewer? In my opinion, no. If the reviewer has a history of bad-mouthing and trashing people in reviews, report them. But arguing with someone's review will more than likely not get them to change their review and it's tacky.

When I see a book that has (25) 5 star ratings and (2) 1 star ratings, I go and read those 1 star ratings. And usually, I find I disagree or could careless about the points they mentioned in their negative review. Besides, if all you had were 5 star reviews, people would suspect you had your entire family and friends read and review it!





Comments

Clao Wue said…
I think you are a day early for letter C as Sunday's are free. Nevertheless that way I noticed your blogpost and read this article. I especially loved the chocolate chip analogy. I never saw it this way. It's true. And you can even go further with it. Some will say they hate them without even having tried because they think they don't like chocolate chips. Some will try and not like them and others won't get enough ...
I might read you again att D-uesday;-)
Mary Burris said…
From a reviewers point of view - I usually give 4 and 5 star reviews, unless the product or book is a real stinker (horrific grammar, poor punctuation, when it comes to books) If it's a topic that I simply just don't care for, I still critique the author on their creative license - on the positive side. I try to think outside the box a bit.

One should never ask a reviewer to change their review. First, it's pretty much against Amazon TOS and they see it as review manipulation if a review has been changed upon request of the seller. If it's a review from someone who has a history of bad reviews, then definitely report that to Amazon. Those idiots make other reviewers look bad and give us a bad reputation.

Uh oh, I see I went on a bit of a tangent. Sorry.

Mary
Twitter: @KnottyMarie
Literary Gold
Jingle Jangle Jungle
Deborah Roach said…
Clao, ahh and now it is evident it's my first time A to Z blogging as I forgot about free Sundays :) But, I am glad you found my post (and thank you for the reminder).
Anonymous said…
Mary, I share your review philosophy. I may give 3 stars if the editing is awful or there are big holes in the story. I can't imagine giving 2 stars..but I would give 1 star if they claimed to be selling a bowling ball & instead they sent a drumstick (misleading marketingb.
Elizabeth Hein said…
Bad reviews can cut an author down at the knees. Being on the receiving end of a few heartless reviews, I've learned to take them with a grain of salt. As my daughter once said to me - Intentionally mean comments say more about the reviewer than the book.
Good luck with the A to Z Challenge.

Elizabeth Hein - Scribbling in the Storage Room
D.A. Roach said…
So true Elizabeth! I really should not read anything less than 4 if I want to continue writing and not start beating myself up. Unfortunately, the 1 star review came on my wedding anniversary, when hubby and I had a lovely weekend downtown planned...time away from the kids, time for just us. Then, as I lay in bed, waiting for sleep to come, I checked my phone and saw there was a 1 star rating. Curiosity got the better of me and I read it and it got in my head. The rest of the weekend was ruined because I couldn't turn off the self-doubt. It was my own fault for reading it but I won't make that mistake again.
Pinksocks said…
Somewhere I believe we all think about the bad reviews and question ourselves.
At times these questions consume you other times they even better you. :)

Cheers,
[@womod] from
Pinksocks
Linda said…
Bad reviews are bad and you should never trust someone who doesn't like Chocolate Chip cookies. :P
Bad reviews really got me so down that my next book has been postponed for too long and I feel like everything I write is trash. I know it's silly but at some points it can really get to you. Time to pick myself back up and keep going, lots of books to write. Thanks for this post.
Happy A2Z.
Deborah Roach said…
Linda,I know what you meao. I released my next book thinking, "I hope it is better received than the last one." And it's blown me out of the water, the positive response from readers. I also had an editor who went heavy on the red ink (that was humbling as well). But she taught me that if a sentence is not moving the plot forward or developing a character, it stould, it doesn't desere to be io the book. That was an awesome lesson that did a lot of good for my book. Best of luck to you!
Claire Annette said…
You are brave - criticism is so hard. I received some really negative criticism which was really an attack on me personally - not my writing. I stopped writing for years but have begun again.
I now only give positive and encouraging reviews. If I don't have something nice to say I don't say anything at all.

stopping by on the a-z blog challenge. (Pam's Unconventional Alliance.)
D.A. Roach said…
Claire,

That is the classy thing to do. If you don't like it, don't broadcast it on every network. I'm so glad you overcame it and began writing again. Despite those that disliked my book, those that loved it REALLY loved it and are loyal readers of my work. So there will always be someone that is not a fan...but you will probably have also have countless fans that would hate for you to not write again.

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