by Maggie Brendan
You’ve put your heart and soul into your novel and finally hold the first copy reverently in your hands-then the reviews come. Some good, others bad. You feel like it’s a personal attack. So why do we re-read the bad reviews again and again and not focus on the genuinely good ones? I think it’s tied up in our egos and we take it to heart. I even had one reviewer question my Christianity, which questioned my character instead of my characters! That cut like a knife. One review cast aspersions on the editor and publisher by saying the book should’ve never been published. There was one outrageous reviewer that said she could tell my book was going to be sensual (the characters were man and wife) when she saw my sexy headshot on the book jacket! My editor laughed and said, “who knew you could tell a book by the author photo?”
Online reviews are often just personal opinions from anonymous people who might not be qualified to give them or aren’t necessarily representative of your average customer.
I’ve had some say my book was “boring and unoriginal” which doesn’t help me improve – because “boring and unoriginal” is simply their opinion, not true feedback. Those kinds of reviews won’t help me learn a thing about improving my craft. It’s important if your rating is low overall and the comments all relate to the same issue-then you may have a problem in your writing that should be addressed.
I never apologize to a reviewer or make an excuse as to how I could’ve made my story better because my editor and marketing advises me not to respond to reviewers online. Many reviewers are only trying to engage the author. So the best thing to do is to try to hear what the reviewer is telling you to make the next book even better, if it’s an honest review-you can usually tell the difference between them.
With that in mind, I’ve learned to read as few of my reviews as possible, as advised by my peers and marketing team. Don’t consider the reviewer to educate you on how to write. I learn more from my fellow authors, my editor, agent, conferences and workshops than any place else.
I’m certainly no authority or the most prolific writer with only six books released, with one releasing February, and another in the works, since I was published later in life than most. The best piece of advice I can offer you-and I have to keep reminding myself-is ignore the cruel ones that have nothing to do with your writing skills, and keep writing instead. Remember they are opinions and all opinions are so subjective. I will never please every reader but I do try to please my audience of One.
Maggie Brendan is a CBA bestselling author, the winner of 2013 Laurel Wreath Award, a 2013 finalist for the Published Maggie Award of Excellence, and a 2013 finalist for the Heart of Excellence Readers’ Choice Award. The Trouble with Patience releases in February, 2015. Follow Maggie on her website www.MaggieBrendan.com, her blog www.SouthernBelleWriter.blogspot.com, Twitter @MaggieBrendan.