It’s my turn and I’ll cry if I want to…

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My husband sent me a link to a review of my book this morning.  It was a favorable review, but I felt like crawling under the table and sobbing.

You see, there have been three reviews so far (well, three that I’ve seen, anyway.)  All of them have been lovely, complimentary and packed with praise.  PW even called my book “rollicking”.  How cool is that?

All of the reviews have pointed out that they would like to have had more background on the way the magic works.  That’s fair – I left it vague on purpose, since the main character doesn’t know herself why it works.  I’ll be sharing more as future books are released, until the reader and Kestrel all understand together.  It’s not so much a complaint as a desire, and something I should keep in mind as I write future books.  At least they care enough to want to know.

So why is it that when I look at these reviews, all of them giving me praise and telling people my book is worth reading, I can only focus on the one slightly negative bit?  And if I’m already worrying this much, what happens when the inevitable unfavorable review finally shows up?   Talk to me, my more experienced compadres.  What do you do to get over the emotional roller coaster of reviews?

Disclaimer: I’m suffering one of those headaches today, I’ve misplaced my only pair of glasses, and my son is practicing his bassoon.   Scary….

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11 comments to It’s my turn and I’ll cry if I want to…

  • Yes, I do it, too, and no, you won’t ever really get to the point that the negative comments don’t bother you, at least you won’t if you’re anything like I am. My first book got some great reviews, but it also got some bad ones, including a pretty savage Kirkus review. Did I focus on the good ones? Of course not. When I go to Amazon and see that my book as a review average of 4 and 1/2 stars, do I focus on the seven 4 and 5 star reviews? Of course not. I go to the 1 star review, read it again and again, and obsess over it. We’re writers. Who knows better than we do the power of a word, be it praise or criticism? Isn’t it natural that we should be sensitive to the words others direct at our work?

  • I stopped reading reviews a long time ago. I have no desire to be crushed. And frankly, I can’t take it when they zing me.

    Hubby reads all reviews and if he sees a good one, he’ll read it to me. But I NEVER ever read one myself.

    So sue me. I’m a wimp.
    Virtual hugs your way.
    Faith

  • Aaah, yes. I don’t read reviews for pretty much that reason. Good or bad, they make me neurotic, and I tend to be of the opinion that, y’know what? Once it’s out there on the shelves, there’s *nothing* I can do about it, so I might as well not make myself any more neurotic than I already am. 🙂

    *HUGS* Lots of sympathy, though.

    -Catie

  • MelanieGriffin

    Would any of you ever advise writing (& *never, never, EVER* sending) a invective-filled, virtual rebuttal letter to the reviewer’s comments? Something to vent your spleen, as it were?

    Or would listing the reasons something exists that the reviewer didn’t prefer be useful for shoring up your feelings? Maybe help you focus on using or developing that area later?

    (Can you tell I’m trying to develop strategies for the future here? *grin*)

    ~ Melanie

  • Actually, Melanie, I have written those letters (and NOT sent them) for just the reason you give. It allows me to vent, to convince myself, in a way, that the reviewer is full of crap. But really I think that Faith’s approach is best — I wish I was mature enough to ignore all reviews.

  • I don’t write them. I have a friend who did once. It was not pretty. The reviewer-nut got pissy and they hated each other forever. Bite your tongue, or do what David does, or don’t read them.

    Get a dart board. And a pic of the evil reviewer. (A toad is good standin to use.) And let fly.
    Faith

  • While I completely understand the philosophy of the never-to-be-sent hate letter, I’d better not do that. I can’t stand the sound of pencil against paper, so I tend to do all my writing on the laptop. And that’s far too close to the email for my comfort. *smile*

    It helps to know I’m not alone – thanks, y’all! I think I’ll do as Faith suggests, and quit reading the reviews. It’ll be hard, but worth it.

  • Michele Conti

    I just hope you wonderful people don’t get upset when people like me email you and say “by the by, there’s an error on page 112….it’s supposed to be ____” 😛

    I did that once to an author, he thanked me for it…but I felt bad. I think he gave me slack because I was 14 and caught a grammatical error in a published book. I mean, when it all comes down to it if there are errors in the book like that isn’t it the editors’ burden and not the writer?

    I like the idea of having someone else read the reviews for you. They can filter out the yucky ones, and then you only get praise. I have a feeling writers are hard enough on themselves without adding to it with constructive (or otherwise) criticism.

    Not to mention some of those review people can be harsh. I often find myself looking at reviews from the famous reviewer people and saying “That guy is just plain daft…”

  • The “By the way, I caught an error on page 367” email is a mixed blessing. On the one hand it’s nice to know that readers care enough to send the email. Problem is, by that point the book is out of our hands.

    As for responsibility, we as authors have multiple opportunities to read through the manuscript and proofs to catch errors. Editors and copyeditors and proof readers also have their chances. If you think about it, a book of 100,000 words (and mine are usually longer) has, on average, in excess of 500,000 characters (letters, spaces, punctuation). Even if we catch 99.999% of the typos and mistakes, that leaves 5 per book. Human error. Can’t get away from it.

  • Michelle said:

    “I often find myself looking at reviews from the famous reviewer people and saying “That guy is just plain daft…””

    *laughs* My friend John had a fit when he read my great-but-not-perfect PW review. I think he’d have preferred them to devote the whole magazine to glowing admiration of just my book and nothing else.

    I have to admit, I like that idea myself. *grin*

  • Michele Conti

    You know what I think is needed for books. The same thing they do for video games. Reader testers.

    Think about it, a control group that isn’t particularly fixed on finding errors but will notice the ones that aren’t necessarily being looked for.

    Like putting the wrong characters name somewhere. The reader thinks “hey wait a minute, that’s not for that guy to say that’s gotta be the other guy…”

    I’ve got kittens fighting on my lap, this typing thing is proving difficult.