Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Reviews

Now that Touch of Death is being read and reviewed I've been trying to avoid Goodreads and other places where reviews will pop up. Don't get me wrong. I want people to review the book. I do. But I know reading is subjective. I've loved books others have hated and vice versa. So, unless my marketing coordinator at Spencer Hill Press tweets a review, I don't read them.

Why? I'm human. I have feelings. I pour myself into my books, and I know that not everyone will love them like I do. Now from what others have told me, the reviews have been great. And like I said, I read the ones that get forwarded to me because I know they are "safe" to read. But I'm also realistic. I know some people who don't like zombies, will pick up my book anyway and it won't be for them. I'm okay with that.

So, I'm taking a stand and saying this: Whether you loved my book, liked it, or it wasn't for you, thank you for taking the time to read it. With all the books out there, I'm honored when people choose to read mine. 

Do you read your own reviews? And if you don't have books out yet, do you think you will read your reviews when the time comes?

77 comments:

  1. That's a good outlook. I can imagine a lot of writers avoid reading reviews for the same reason.

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    1. I've heard a lot of writers say they avoid reviews. I never fully understood why until I was in the position to do it. Though I love reading the good reviews my marketing coordinator sends me. :)

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  2. I am terrified of zombies, but will be checking out Touch of Death because I find you inspiring : ) may be terrified but I'm sure it'll be worth it.

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    1. Aw, thank you! I don't think you'll be terrified. It's not that scary.

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  3. That's the best attitude to have about reviews, Kelly. The truth of the matter is that most people don't write reviews so we truly only get to see a small percentage of opinions. Just like any other artistic creation such as movies or music or paintings, everyone has their individual reaction. You are right though ... reading good reviews is a buzz!

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    1. That's a great point! A lot of people don't review the books they read.

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  4. I think you are using a good game plan.

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  5. Reviews are scary, but I look at them differently now. I use them as a learning tool. If several people are saying the same thing, I can work on that area of my writing and improve.

    But we all have our own way of dealing with reviews. You have a great attitude! Just keep doing what works for you.

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    1. Yeah, I think we all have to find a way that we can live with the reviews. Whatever works, right?

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  6. Reviews are a double-edged sword. When they are good, it makes your whole day, but when someone hates your work? Not so much. I agree with Mariah about doing whatever works for you.

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  7. It's easier to leave the reviews alone the further away you get from your publishing date. Now that DESTINED has been out for a year, I don't look at Goodreads at all for my book. I don't even want to. If someone tweets or e-mails me to let me know they wrote a good review, I will read it. Or if a Godoreads review comes up on twitter with a good rating, I may check it out. But the review has to come to me. Like you, I don't seek them out.

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    1. Thanks for sharing what it's like a year down the road, Jessie. Loved Destined, by the way. :)

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  8. I think I would read the reviews. I want to know what the people in my market are saying about the content of my product. One thing is for sure, critics are sometimes more important to you than fans. Like the people who love you (family, friends), fans can be blind. But, the eagle eye of a critic will never lie to you.

    I just finished Stephen King's "On Writing" and I loved the part where he shares how one Alfred Hitchcock premier of "Psycho" had a viewing before an elite group who loved it. His wife said, "Al, you can't release this." When he asked her why she told him that Janet Leigh had swallowed when she was supposed to be dead. None of the fans picked up on that.

    My husband is my worst critic, but he loves me. :) If you listen to your critics, I think you will become stronger for it.

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    1. I don't mean "do what they say", I mean, read what their experience of your work, just to know.

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    2. One of my betas is so tough on me! I love her for it, so I get what you're saying.

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    3. Well, I've had such polarizing critical feedback that I can't relate to Diane's feelings, but I do understand them, but I do think you need to have readers who actually like your genre, just to get a more fair range of opinions.

      I've had many a beta-reader who's not into what I write, and sometimes that does harm to my process because some of the things the non-lover of my genre picks are things I can't necessarily change because my story won't work.

      It would be like taking Charlotte out of "Charlotte's Web" because lots of people have issues with spiders.

      My stories require suspending disbelief and if you're a realist (No talking animals and strictly adhere to a real place instead of making up settings not in real life) my books just won't be for you, on average.

      Maybe if more people followed Diane's ideal view, I'd feel less skeptical of this issue, but there you go.

      Kelly, I may not be into paranormal, but I know you work hard, I just wish I could draft quicker than I do.

      But it's key to remember there are other ways to support your writer friends, that are sincere and don't compromise your integrity.

      I have lots of people among my small online circles who will love your YA books, and I can recommend they read you, and you know for the books of yours I will support will be in the "safe" camp, right?

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    4. Taurean, you've always been very supportive of me, and I truly appreciate that. :)

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    5. Glad you know that, and I know when you can you'll pay it forward when my time comes.

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    6. Absolutely! I'm already cheering you on. :)

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  9. Sure, I read reviews of my work. Most of them are great, or thoughtful and nuanced. Some point out things I didn't even notice, which is kind of cool. Occasionally a line or comment gets to me, but an author has to develop a tough skin and a confident core, or else when someone criticizes them they'll be dissolved in a hot messy puddle like the bad witch in the Wizard of Oz.

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    1. Tough skin is a must! Good for you, Catherine.

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  10. I think I will read some reviews but absolutely not every single one. If someone tells me about a good review, I'll read it, but I won't seek them out. I know everyone can't love my work and it's OK, but I think it's not always necessary to hear why people don't like it. On the other hand I find feedback useful, so I guess I'll use some reviews to make my writing better.

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    1. Yes, some feedback is very useful. I completely agree.

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  11. I don't think I'll be reading my reviews. I'll be trying really hard to stay away from them unless, like you, someone points out that this is a good review and I should read it. My stuff has been rejected before. I know how I'll react to it so I'd rather not go there. I'm thinking down the line, when I've been published for awhile, I'll start to read them. Hopefully, I'll reach a point where they won't affect me.

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    1. That would be nice, but I think since we're human, it will always affect us a little.

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  12. I do read reviews--especially reader reviews, because they give me a sense of whether I'm getting through to readers. Even bad reviews can be instructive (though often you can see where they reflect someone's bias, or suggest that the person just didn't get it; the ones that bug me most are the ones where it's obvious the reviewer didn't even read the whole book).

    Over time I've learned not to take it personally. Of course it hurts to read negative comments, but it goes with the territory; as authors we're putting ourselves out there so we have to be prepared to take our lumps as well as our accolades.

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    1. Definitely true. We want people to read and review our books. That's why we're in this business.

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  13. There's a real difference between honest reviews written by people who have actually read your book, and those written by the sewer rats who hang out on the internet trolling for ways to make other people feel bad so they can feel good. Recently an author I know was devastated to find a few nasty comments on the Amazon page for her book. Looks like a few folks just looked at the cover and felt free to make ignorant remarks that really cut her. Our advice on the authors' loop was to remember the source and forget it. If your book gets published, at least your publisher and editors believe in it. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but some are worth more than others. That being said, I do read my reviews for insight into what I do wrong, and what I do right. But I also keep on writing.

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    1. Yes! Keep on writing. That's the key, isn't it?

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  14. I'm with you all the way Kelly! Though I really only have a buffer for one of my books. The others I released on my own so I know at least the "reviewers" that have it and they'll send it directly to me if they do review it. Thankfully the reviews have been good (even if I wish they would have tacked more stars onto said reviews ;-)). But I do try to not read the reviews at Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, etc. unless I'm totally sure it's a good one. And frankly I'm finding, as several seasoned writers have said, it isn't necessarily great to read the good ones either unless you're in the correct frame of mind.

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  15. That's a great way to look at things, I'm not published yet but I understand completely...we love our books in ways some people never will and that's okay.

    I know I'll probably read some of my reviews just because at first I'll be curious but after that first curiosity I most likely won't.

    For the record, I loved Touch of Death...and the amazing review will be posted in January :)

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    1. Aw, thank you, Patrice. I'll be sure to read your review. I know it's safe. LOL.

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  16. You are a strong person. I'm not sure I would be able to stay away from the review sites.

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    1. Trust me, it's not that difficult to do. I spend my time writing new books.

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  17. I've often thought about this and wondered what I'd do in your situation. I hope I could stay away from reviews, since it's not the positive points but negative ones that stay with you and fester in your mind. However, I'm a curious kitty and I doubt I'd have your strength of will.
    Congrats on the good reviews, Kelly! :-)

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    1. Thanks! It was tough at first. I kept going back to Goodreads, but I realized it wasn't helping me at all. I had to move on.

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  18. I can't yet speak to whether or not I'd read reviews of my own books, but I have read reviews of books in my genre, and that's strictly because there's a difference between how critics and writers read versus how lay readers read the SAME book.

    Often my favorite books were looked more distastefully by critics, and I'm frankly of the opinion that you don't have to treat someone like an incompetent dimwit to be honest about what you don't like. Something people in my circles have to remind me because I take things so personally, but I can't help it.

    Maybe I just view this differently because I've rarely had an experience where ultra-critical feedback helped me, and I do feel people hide behind the veil of "Honesty" just to tear someone down. Just because I'm not a fan of Hunger Games for example, doesn't mean I have shame those who adore it, it goes both ways. At least, that's what I think.

    I for one LOVED Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke, but lots her hardcore loyalists did not, and Funke herself considers it one of her favorites of the many books she's written before or since.

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    1. It's all subjective. That's the bottom line. I can't bring myself to read The Hunger Games, either, but I say kudos to Collins for being so successful. I'm okay with the fact that I won't like every book. I'm not supposed to and neither is anyone else. I choose not to review books I don't like because I would NEVER disrespect another author. I know how hard we work to write books. I respect that, whether I like a book or not.

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    3. Typos, let's try this again-

      Kelly, you said-

      "It's all subjective. That's the bottom line."

      Well, for some of us, it's not, it's only ONE part of the aforementioned "Bottom Line."

      I get what you're saying, and for the most part I agree, but I do feel people can use honesty as a veil to tear at someone's work.

      Also, like others here have said, not all subjectivity is created equal. Even feedback you need to hear can be hard to execute, and you KNOW you need to for what you're doing to read as intended, the line between "THe Best I can do now" and "What's enough to an agent or editor" aren't always mutually exclusive, much as we strive for the latter.

      Also, as I expressed to another writer once-

      "Yes, we can't please everyone, but there's a difference between that, and feeling like few outside your niche get what you're doing, at all."

      It took me eight years to find people who liked my style of storytelling, but there's a difference in finding fellow writers who feel as you do, and those in publishing who feel as you do, the later is getting harder to find, and I think that's where much of the frustration comes from, Kelly.

      It's really NOT about "pleasing everyone." It's just finding partners in publishing who can aid in our goals, and that's where I and many feel stuck.

      I believe in you, Kelly, I just couldn't help you get published anymore than you could me, outside being each other's best possible beta-readers when we were in the same critique group. That's what I feel a lot of people commenting here were trying to speak to.

      You need both support from peers and someone in the business to make it today.

      While it's great we have self-publishing as an option, not everyone can afford to do it right, and you need to be at a certain level of quality to rise above the junk (The downside to going the self-published route) and I just don't have the money to do it right.

      My path requires getting an agent, because few publishers however small won't review anything not through an agent, and there simply aren't many small presses around that aren't nonfiction only, YA only, or focus on religious markets, none of which are what I write.

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    4. I should clarify what I meant by it being subjective. I meant that everyone can voice their opinion about what they read. Do some go about it in a very negative way? Unfortunately, yes. Some people attack writers, and I hate to see that happen. It is part of the business, though. I don't know if it will ever go away either. I wish everyone understood how hard writers work, but I don't see it happening. That's why writers need other writers for support.

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    5. Okay, I follow you now. You're right about supporting each other. We still have to do our own work, but some support is VITAL, I've just learned some writers need more than others, some are just so outwardly flippant in public you'd never know that. LOL

      It might not go away (The Hater thing), but we don't have to add to it, and I do believe some of the haters will see there's a way to be honest and still humane.

      I'd really be a mouthy, overemotional jerk if that wasn't true. But I'm coming around, slowly, but I am.

      Sadly, sometimes people don't "get it" until they've hurt enough people, or when they're on the other side of the savageness themselves.

      I just hope writers on all sides don't let the haters blind them to the people who appreciate their writing, if not every book they've read by them, the people who learned to love reading because their books exist, who give people a voice that few ever heard in their daily lives.


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    6. I agree. Writers have to focus on the readers they have a positive effect on. That's the best feeling ever. When I get a glowing review where the reader is genuinely in love with the book, I'm all smiles for a long time because I feel like I'm passing on the love of books other authors instilled in me. :)

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  19. You know that you can't write for everybody and not everybody will love your words as much as others.. I wish that were the case, if so I'd be my villa in Barcelona right now because my book would be a movie and i'd be sipping something and watching the waves crashing the shoreline, but sadly I am still slaving away during he day and writing at night. To answer your question - I don't think I would. Heck, I have a hard time reading my editors comments on my stories. :-) Embrace your inner Xena and keep moving.

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    1. Oh, Brenda, editors comments can be tough, too. You're right. It's the old "We love this book and want to buy it, but now you need to rewrite it" phenomenon. ;)

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  20. I can't decide. reading reviews will be just as hard as critiques... can I learn something from some of them? Maybe. Sometimes though I think critiques aren't really very good and can actually ruin things that did work, a review could possibly do the same thing. Everything is subjective. I guess it is best to avoid and trust your editor and agent?

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    1. I agree. I trust my agent and my editor (team of editors). In the end, I put forth the best book I can and hope most people like it.

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  21. I think that sometimes the people who put the negative reviews forget that the authors are human. Granted, it's okay to not like a book. But it's not okay to absolutely tear down someone who had the courage to write and publish something.

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    1. I agree, Samantha, and you put it much simpler than I ever could.

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    2. Exactly! I couldn't agree more!

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  22. I'm too curious--I read reviews of my books! :D I share the good ones and ignore the less-than-stellar ones (okay, I might gnash my teeth and then ignore them).

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    1. LOL. It's the teeth gnash's that I'm trying to avoid. ;)

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  23. I am not a zombie person, but I will read it because i know you. :)

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    1. That's sweet, Jodi. Hopefully the rest of the story will make it enjoyable for you.

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  24. This is a really tough call. Of course, we want to read what people thought about our books and our characters. But when they aren't liked ... it hurts.

    I think I may have toughened up a little since my first book came out in 2010. But maybe I only toughened up for THAT book. I might still be a little sensitive on the next one.

    Time will tell, but I definitely know I'm not going to stalk Goodreads every day, trying to read them all.

    Sales are more important than reviews, anyway. Ha. No pressure there, right?

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    1. LOL. No, no pressure at all. ;) I totally agree by the way.

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  25. I can hope I'll be strong enough not to read them. I think you are absolutely smart to avoid them, because that's how these Goodreads debacles all begin. Good on you for having that power!

    I'm sure I'll break and read them all. Sigh. No backbone.

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    1. I've seen some wars on Goodreads. I'd never respond to a review that wasn't favorable. I think both people usually end up looking bad in that situation.

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  26. For me, it's nausea. I feel things stirring in my tummy whenever there's a new review because I worry it won't be a good one. Congrats on the great reviews you've been receiving, Kelly. And you're absolutely right: with all the books there are out there, we are honoured people picked ours up.

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    1. Yes, we are. That's what I try to focus on. People are reading my book. That's every writer's dream, right?

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  27. It can be hard to read reviews about your own book. I do read ones about my book – but I hold my breath the whole time. You're riggt- reading is very subjective. Be very proud of yourself for what you have accomplished! Here is to many wonderful reviews!

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  28. I always found it interesting in workshops when people would be criticizing things about my work that weren't even in the piece. And then you'd point that out and they would reply, "Oh! You're right! I guess I just imagined that. Oops." After 15 minutes of ranting about it, something which doesn't even happen in the work. I don't blame you, though! If I ever get published, I don't think I'll read "unsafe" reviews!

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    1. I'm just glad I have someone to preview them for me.

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  29. I guess you get used to reading how others think about your books. I read the reviews and I sometimes get good ideas from the thoughtful ones, even those that say I didn't do something very well.

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    1. Yes, they can be helpful, too. The ones that are meant to be, that is.

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  30. Yes, I do read my own reviews because I find them helpful. And although the not so great reviews don't feel so good, the great ones make it all worthwhile! Especially the ones from people I don't even know.

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  31. I read reviews. And I use them in promos. Some of the good ones (and these can be 4 star as well as 5)say interesting things that I never got as the writer of the book. And you will get great reviews of your book. I betcha!

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    1. I have been getting some really great ones, and my publisher uses the blurbs for promo me. I can't say how much I love that they screen the reviews.

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  32. Long ago I vowed not to bother posting so-so reviews. I’m not an important critic, and who cares if I found something to be ho-hum? I’ll only review books I really like/love, as in four or five star rating.
    But I know many don’t feel this way, and like you, I too am really grateful for anyone who bothered to read and review.

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    1. I figure why review a book if I didn't like it. I'd rather pass along books I do like to others.

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  33. I think when the time comes, it'll be best to have a thick skin about negative reviews, and not to dwell on it.

    I will give a negative review on Amazon if it's something like a movie I really disliked (Battleship is the worst film of the year, for the record)....

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