My Thoughts on Reviews – Part Three

There are a lot of threads that keep popping up in one form or another on the forums I visit. Some involve topics that are fun to discuss while others make me want to use the force to choke someone out. One of these topics has to do with reviews. I have a lot of thoughts on this topic so I decided to share them. In the interest of appearing sane, I split my ramblings into four parts.

Okay, this part probably won’t win me any points with some people. So be it.  A bad review is not the end of the world. There is no need to gorge yourself on comfort food. Suck it up and walk it off. A writer complaining about bad reviews is like a boxer complaining about being hit. Yes, it hurts but that is the nature of the business. I’ve taken my share of punches and I deserved a good number of them. They all sting.

Here are some facts. You will not please everyone all the time. Not everyone has the same tastes. For all the people who love a book, there will be some who will loathe it. Not everyone will like the story you tell or how you tell it. There will be people who will like one of your books and will not like your other ones.

You have to develop a thick skin and be able to handle constructive criticism. If you can’t then you’re going to be in for a very rough time. You don’t have to like or agree with what someone says about your work but don’t assume someone who leaves a bad review is being malicious or hateful. Try to keep an open mind concerning the review. Maybe the person has a valid reason for his or her views. Now, I’m not saying you should change your writing style or the way you write based on the comments and opinions of one individual. I am saying keep those comments in mind especially if the reviewer’s opinions are shared by others.

That said, there are things mentioned in reviews that are not a matter of opinion. Problems with editing, formatting, grammar, spelling and punctuation should be taken seriously. You cannot deny their existence or say it’s just the reviewer’s opinion. This is a matter of right and wrong. Either a word is spelled right or it’s spelled wrong. The same thing applies to grammar and punctuation. This isn’t open to debate.

The best thing to do in this situation is to correct these problems as soon as possible. They will reflect on your writing and the quality of your book. Some readers will forgive a few minor errors because they understand how hard it is to edit and proofread a book, others will not. Very few will forgive a book riddled with errors or one that is unreadable. My first book suffered from a number of errors. Even with help, it took a long time to correct these problems but it had to be done.

If you get an inappropriate review on a site like Amazon or B&N, check the site’s guideline to make sure the review falls into that category. If it does, report the review and move on. If it doesn’t or it’s borderline, ignore it. Wasting time on it will not help you. The only thing worse would be to get into an argument or long drawn out discussion with the reviewer.

Well, the sun is coming up here and it’s time for me to get some sleep. We’ll give some final insane ramblings on this topic next week.

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