Monday, December 8, 2014

I Rated Her Book 2 Stars. Then The Author...

English: Stack of books in Gould's Book Arcade...
English: Stack of books in Gould's Book Arcade, Newtown, New South Wales (NSW), Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
...sent me this wonderful email.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for writing a review on "My Book."  I'm just getting started with my writing, and that's exactly what I need--constructive criticism.  Reviews are great--it's like getting a free critique!  Professionals like you can see mistakes writers are making where they may never see it themselves.  I'd much rather have honest reviews than a string of five star reviews I put my buddies up to writing.  I learned something valuable from you--I won't be writing any more of those "As You Know, Bob" conversations, that's for sure!  I'll make other mistakes, but it won't be that.

I've also pointed that author to some writer support groups, like WriterUnboxed.

One of the best tools for selling books is having plenty of reader reviews. Yet one of the hardest things for many authors to get is readers to review their books. There's plenty of reasons why:

  • Many people don't read, period. (Sad but true.)
  • Some people love to read, but are intimidated by the idea of writing reviews.
  • Some readers believe in only writing "positive" reviews (especially writer-readers).
  • Many people don't like reading certain genres, or, when it comes to romance, certain heat levels (either too sweet or too scorching).
  • Many readers have so many books in their TBR queue that they've become very, very selective about the books they review. (Note: I'm one of them.)
  • Many people don't want to hurt an author's feelings with a negative review.

And some reviewers are afraid of getting flamed by an author behaving badly.

There's plenty of things the author above did wrong in her book. Probably self-pubbing as a beta read experiment is among the biggest.

But what she HAS mastered is courtesy and professionalism toward reviewers.

There is periodically a kerfluffle about some author who goes off on a fan or reviewer. There's a certain, chick lit author (or was it her husband, or her assistant?) who went off on her Facebook page about a reviewer who remarked, that while she had been a big fan of the first five books, the last one had left her disappointed, because X.

Somebody slammed and shamed this woman, on and on and on, on that Facebook page, and you know, I'm pretty sure that that particular fan did not run out and buy that author's next five books. Nor, probably, will a lot of the readers who saw that exchange.  I, personally, do not intend to ever read or buy one of that author's books again. Like airlines and fast food restaurants, we have other choices out there.

But the author who wrote the book I gave two stars to?  Sure, I'd be willing to read another of her works (though not for a very long while, since my TBR queue looks like the jumble of books, above).

Does it hurt, like an emotional bee sting, when somebody doesn't like our work? Sure. But if we are in the business of writing, or creating any form of art that people enjoy, but don't need on a daily basis, like water or clothing, if other people can and do produce books or movies or paintings similar to our own, we better get inured to bee-stings, because some people are not going to like it. Period.

If you can't stand the bee stings, stay out of the apiary.

Have you ever given a low review on a book you didn't like?
Have you ever received one on one of your books?
Your thoughts?