Bad Reviews. Candy Floss or Asbestos?

Everyone at some point weighs in on bad reviews. There are so many opinions about reviews I can’t even go into all of them.They range from “I can say anything I want because I bought the book” to “I can defend my book because I’m the one who wrote it”. Some people believe an author should never contact a reviewer in any way shape or form while others feel that a review is a good way to discuss good and bad points in a book with a reader.

Personally, I do try to thank people for taking the time to review my books, even if it’s a negative review. They paid for the book…hopefully… and read it. I can at least say thank you for their time, even if the book wasn’t to their liking.

Because well, not every book is going to please everyone.

I’d be a fool to think otherwise.

But what does a review actually do for an author?

Sometimes, they hurt.

Now that’s not something to be ashamed of saying. They do hurt at times. Sometimes it’s like choking down fiberglass and then following it with a glass of water from the Dead Sea. I’m not going to lie and tell you that I’m untouched by someone saying one of my books was a DNF or if they pan it to the point of wondering why someone hasn’t cut off my fingers so I never write another thing again.

The human creature usually fixates on the negative. Or at least I can probably say the writer brain does. There may be ten positive reviews but the one scathing one stings. It worms its way in and sticks there like a tapeworm.

For some writers, it’s hard to find the fortitude to ignore it or kill it. Some people feed it more negative thoughts until it grows and bursts inside of them, poisoning the entire body.

And see, there are also some people who review things with that end in mind.

I’ve run across those people. They read a book then delight in tearing it apart, stating pet peeves or trope dislikes as if the writer purposely wrote the book solely to offend them. Those are the reviews that should not be fed. You can usually recognize them. They’re usually long and sometimes rant or they get personal. I’d caution anyone from engaging those reviewers. There’s no good that comes from any of it.

Because ultimately, the whole point of discussion is that something good comes of it.

Even if a review is bad, I try to be gracious. Sometimes I wonder if the person read what I’ve written or if they understood what I was trying to communicate. Expressing that will get a fire hose of “well if that’s what you meant, you should have written that” thrown back at you. Not worth losing your skin over but it still hurts.

Because let’s face it, the reader isn’t just buying a book, they are buying months of a person sitting down and writing something down. That person might take things very much to heart, regardless of the fact that they are a writer and put their book out there. They’re still a person with flaws, hopes and doubts. Does that mean this writer should attack people who didn’t like their book? No, not at all.

Do I hope that writer deals well with the pain of that rejection? Yes.

When we write and that piece is published, we’re asking everyone to the prom. That’s pretty much what it is. We’re asking a roomful of people to dance with us. Some people are going to say no. Others are going to say yes. And of the ones that say yes, there are going to be a select few that will knee us in the metaphorical balls out in the middle of the dance floor then run back to their friends and laugh.

That is when the writer needs to breathe, take control of themselves and get back up. Continue dancing. Continue taking the risk. Keep going to different dances. Try out new things. Wear new clothes. Explore the possibilities.

Oh, and maybe wear a codpiece. And no, not one with spikes… just a codpiece. For those kicks to the balls. Because nothing will lessen the intent of the blow but you can lessen the impact.

Just don’t drink the punch. It’s probably not spiked and God knows, sometimes you need the booze to make it through the prom.

21 thoughts on “Bad Reviews. Candy Floss or Asbestos?

  1. Patricia Grayson

    PETA, I’m calling PETA !! How many days is that poor overweight bunny going to writhe up and down that pole? Can you put a stop to the torture? I object strongly!
    (oh, it’s an animated bunny. Uh, never mind.)

  2. So, I’m trying to decide if I should answer seriously.
    Yes, yes I am. I write a review to express the feeling I felt for a book. I don’t write it to impress or depress an author. I share, especially if I love a book, in hopes others will try it too. I am a very picky reader, so don’t go where I know I won’t be happy. Do I miss out on a lot of great books, probably. But, I don’t have the time to waste if I think it’s not for me.
    I appreciate a review that is constructive, not destructive. Then there are the WTF moments where I asked, “did we read the same book”, maybe they switched covers.
    Anyway, I can appreciate what it took to produce a book. I hope that those that write negative reviews, temper them with that in mind.

    1. Constructive is always good. Hell, I’ve had “bad reviews” that I really didn’t think were that bad because the reader pointed out what worked and what didn’t work for them. And that’s a good thing. Thoughtful. *nods*

      If I love a book, I want to share that love. *nods* God knows I try. *grins*

      And yes, a tempered review is perfect. Make points, state opinion…plus or negative… and it’s all good. This was all just a ramble in response to a question someone gave me about how I felt about reviews. 😀

  3. ivarisha

    I am responsible for what I’m saying/writing, but I’m not responsible for what you hear/read (c)
    I’ll take half of your pain, and replace it with my love 😉

    1. Heh.. Oh I’m good. *grins* It was a general opinon about reviews. I know some people take them VERY much to heart and for that, I am sorry. I KNOW not everyone will like my stuff. Hell, sometimes I don’t like my stuff while I write it. *laughs*

      It’s probably because as a writer, we’re not really writing our “opinion” but rather a story. It’s a personal thing but not personally us. If that makes any sense. I’m usually ok with bad reviews.

  4. freckles18

    OK I have to wade in here….. When reading a book I become absorbed in it when its a really good read and I get grumpy mumpy when I have to break off to feed the kids, go to work, take a pee…. You get the picture. I can only imagine what you as the author go through writing it. Criticise away these guys who rant….. they obviously have no depth to their human soul, no life either obviously. But remember, for each one of them… you have 10 or more loyal fans, hanging off your every word, cracking the whip over your head to encourage you to write faster because we can’t wait for you too empty your head for our entertainment. ( steps off soap box) ….. Rant over LOL

    1. Wade on in! *waves you in* Heh… this wasn’t necesssarily about me. I was asked how I felt about reviews… from a writer’s standpoint. For the most part, I’m okay with bad reviews but I know some people get very hurt or angry about then. *grins* 😀

      As for writing faster, sometimes that helps. Other times…like this chapter, I have to approach it very delicately. *nods* Because stuffs happening. *laughs* Smooches.

  5. freckles18

    I get touchy when my bestest authors get an unfair review 😉 I’m selfish that way x

  6. Thanks for the thoughtful post 🙂 It’s always nice to hear from an author’s perspective. Of course, I try to always be respectful in my reviews. And like you’ve said, it’s really a give a take between the author and reviewer, because both are held accountable for their actions at different times, although because authors are maybe more visible, they sometimes do get a biased rep if they’re talking back online or being unfair, where a reviewer might not if they’re not as well known.

    I admit, I do have a secret list of authors I won’t review though, mostly because of past experiences in reading their books, if they tend to hover unnecessarily (I don’t like that very much, but I only stop reviewing their books if they’re REALLY bad about it) and then authors who tend to get displeased with me (that’s the best way to say it) for a bad review that is perfectly fair. But I’m a person who would rather hold back and not say anything rather than someone who tends to air their displeasure about things online, so maybe that’s why I tend to get upset when authors and bloggers and reviewers go off about things…

    1. Oh I would fully want you to be truthful and exact. Always. *hugs* This was really a ramble of my thoughts. Someone asked me what I thought about bad reviews and for the most part, I’m okay with them. I know there are reviewers who are mean and authors who are… well… insane. Let’s be realistic. INSANE. *grins*

      Most of this is geared to the writer who might waver about what to do… insanity or otherwise.

      There is certainly a give and take relationship in about 98% of all author/reviewer discourse. I definitely want to hear about what hit and what missed. *grins* Of course I reserve the right to say… um, nope. Because you know, my characters but I do feel a responsibility to the reader. They PAID for this. *nods* It’s their money. Their work day that went to me.

      *hugs* *offers cold pizza* Pepperoni!

  7. I always try to review the books I read in a respectful way. Generally you can tell immediately by the first sentence of my review (at least the GR ones) whether I liked the book or not. These people who go on and on about the % of the ebook that it takes to get to the story or the % that it ends on because of excerpts or marketing from the publisher is ridiculous. Would you comment on how many blank pages there were of a paperback before you get to the title page or whatever? No! Of course not! So if the complaint is about the length of the story or the cost of the story based on the length, then say that but quit bitching about formatting. That’s not a book review!

    I rarely give 1 or 2 star reviews. If I do, I have reasons why and I state why that is. Generally it falls into just a few categories: I don’t like the MC enough to even care what happened to him/her; the book has such horrid editing that I am repeatedly taken out of the story because the grammar, spelling, whatever killed it for me; it’s supposed to be a historical but the dialogue is 21st century or even worse, the dialogue was something SO bad that nobody would ever talk like that. If it’s a genre I don’t particularly like, I’ll say that. I’m not a big Sci-Fi person, so unless it’s REALLY REALLY good, I’m not going to like it just because that isn’t my thing. In fact generally I will just avoid it entirely and if I do read it and review it, I say to take my review with a big ole grain of salt since it’s not something I normally like.

    On my formal reviews posted on review sites, I almost always state that this is my opinion and your mileage may vary. I only know of only one review that I’ve written that an author objected to but the site owner stuck with me and told the author to reread the review since it was obvious that I had read the book and had major issues with the characters and their motivations. One other book I strenuously objected to the tags on it and didn’t like the book a great deal because of that – the tag was “forced seduction” but the character was ruffied and gang raped bareback. Now how the heck is that “forced seduction” I ask you? I will read everything, but I object to being misled.

    I realize that authors have access to my reviews and I do keep that in mind when I review books but I try not to let it influence how I review the book. I usually try to state the positives about a book even if I didn’t like it overall.

    1. Oh yes, I would definitely object to those. *nods* That’s not my idea of “seduction”. Dear lord.

      For the most part, I feel reviewers do a great job. Read, dissect, discuss. This was ’cause someone asked me how I felt about bad reviews and honestly, I’m okay with them.

      Let’s face it, no one’s going to like every book. And some people have kinks they want scratched that I can’t read… or write. *grins*

      I think you do a great job of the R,D and D. *nods*

      And yeah, I don’t think complaining about book length is valid. I mean, I always check to see how long the book is before I buy it. I’m not paying six bucks for a novella. *laughs*

  8. It depends on how invested I am in my disappointment. I have written a few not so nice reviews but I also like to think that they were deserved because I paid money for something that doesnt remotely resemble the blurb.

    I have never to my knowledge gave a bad review to an author that I love who wrote a not so book, I will give it a 3 and shrug – saying you cant be perfect 24/7.

    You never have to worry cause I LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE your stories and will get nothing but awesome reviews from me

    1. Smooooches. Oh, promise… for me… write whatever you feel. I might write something you LOATHE…and it’s okay to dislike it. This was more about how a writer should view reviews in general…especially bad ones. And to keep writing. *grins*

      I’ve had books I could just NOT make it through. And some of them are ones people LOVE! Couldn’t do it. I just figured it wasn’t for me 😀

      And oh, blurbs…they are of Satan.

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