2016 #ROW80 Round 4: Check-In #15
Morning, sunshines! It’s been a while since I write a post early in the morning. Everyone in the house still asleep, and I’m having my coffee to start the day. One of the first things I do every day is to see if I got any new reviews.
I’m not talking about the ones I have to write, which are two for today, but the ones my books received. Some authors don’t like to read reviews for many reasons, but I love to see what my readers thought about my stories–good or bad.
In real life, I’m a very drama free person. Everyone has issues, bad days, and the right to their opinions. So reading a positive or negative review doesn’t affect me personally. Perhaps because I don’t get attach to my books, or if you ask my kids because I’m an evil witch with no feelings. But that’s beyond the point.
Reviews are the reason our books get exposure and how they say, let them talk. I have fellows writers who have a love/hate relationship with Goodreads. In my case, I started in GR, so I’m pretty fond of it. I spend a lot of time there, as a writer, reader, and a reviewer. I love to write books, but I love to talk books too.
One thing I learned from the very beginning was not to engage the reviewers. No matter if the review was great or not. Everyone’s reading experience is different and we can go around policing their words. The best we can do is read them and use the information accordingly. I do “like” the reviews for my stories just as an acknowledgment that I have read them. If they took the time to write a review, the least I can do is read it.
As a writer, I look forward to reviews. It’s no secret that my first story, A Chance to Fight, has a very low rating, and I understand why. When I wrote it, two years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. Yes, I had written other stories before, but never an MM book. It has everything, from one-star reviews to five. And no, I don’t pay them for those five stars.
I have two favorite reviews and both are one star. Why? Because they said the same thing but just from different perspectives. Looking back, I can see all the things that need fixing, and the reviewers did a great job pointing at them. The difference is that one took the time to see the story from a partial perspective when the other one zeroed only on their own experience.
To this day, I still use these two reviews when approaching a story. I learned to balance the overall story arc with the little details that will make my readers smile. Someday, I’ll re-write this story because I love their journey and they deserve a second chance. And I’ll use all the reviews as beta critiques.
As a reviewer, I don’t rate a story less than three stars. I know the weight a negative review has in the rating system and use it as an opportunity to let readers make their own minds about a book. I’ll normally note a lower rating within the review, and take the time to explain why. I don’t paraphrase the stories, that’s what blurbs are for. I talk about the impression the story left on me. What I liked, what worked, pacing, writing style, etc. Everything I want to know about my own stories. And there’s always going to be someone with a different approach. I review a book to let others know about the author’s work, not to tell them what to read, or what to stay away from.
As a reader, I read others reviews only to see if it’s something I’ll be interested in. I avoid reviews with spoilers and always read lower rating reviews. Sometimes, I read a book just because reviewers gave it a low score. Every book has at least one redeemable quality, even if it’s just an outlet for the author to vent. I like to know what others like, and I love to talk about books; to see if we find the same things interesting. And yes, you will find me talking about books in Goodreads and in Someone Else’s Stories.
In the end, if you take your time to review one of my books, I’ll take the time to read it. If I review one of your stories, I’ll take the time to tell you what worked or not for me. And as a reader, I’ll plug your book to others because I love to read.
And if you made it all the way to the end of this post, you deserve a medal. I hope that next time you get a negative review, you see the potential behind it. There’s always an opportunity to write your best story yet.
A Round of Words in 80 days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life.