Like other authors, I get anxiety when I know a review’s coming up. While elated that someone’s taking the time to read my work (with ignoring the worst outcome), I know there’s a “make or break” with reviews. The dream is all five-star glowing opinions, with the nightmarish one or two stars while the reviewer admits to not finishing the book!
I’ve read the articles that mention the “shill (or shrill…my blog lingo is off) reviews” when friends and family do glowing reviews with no other reviews on amazon. I do understand the point, but for a new author, think about if friends/family didn’t do a review for you? Outside of not wanting to post a review, if your mom doesn’t like your work, it can’t be good for the psyche of the new author. I’ve learned with time, proper promotion, and networking, reviewers are out there and do great work. Helping hands are hard to find at first for the new author, so what if your mom, best friend, or co-workers post a review? What does one expect, NYT?
Four and five star reviews are as easy to understand as the one and two star ratings. What about three stars? Does that mean “it’s good, the author needs to grow some” or ” it’s good , but for a specific audience” or ” it’s really not that bad.” This may sound petty, but for the new author, everything said about the work the writers feels every word. I don’t know if the hyper-sensitivity goes away, but hope to find out on my writing journey.
Reviewing books has helped me understand the standpoint of reviewers, and I highly recommend it to new authors. Not only is the new author giving an opinion, ge/she is reading more. I’ve found reading to be the most helpful way to improve writing skills, and some experts say doing reviews gives new authors some of the credibility they need.
So when I get a three-star review, I try to think of why I give a three star review. Usually it’s something about the content that didn’t snag me I to the story, though the step-back, big picture the work is good enough not to label “bad.”. As I’ve stated before, I’m a content reader, but other readers are very grammar-sensitive, which can cost a star. Some of my three star reviews, the reviewer clearly states that some of the story is confusing, too short, to fractured. A reviewer shouldn’t be attacked period, unless they admit not finishing the book. (I could go into Ms Howlett’s on-line meltdown, but whoever hasn’t seen that should see what NOT to do with a negative opinion).
I appreciate my three star reviews. Sure, I’d like it to rate higher, but reality is we’re all different, with variable interests which keeps humans from being mindless rocks. When the experts say authors should expect a scatter of ratings, and that only makes sense, how can one novel impress everyone? The same could be said of music, art, and other creative endeavors. So, new authors, keep writing, and if your worst review is three stars, consider yourself blessed. If your mom posts a nice review, thank her for the support. And last, thank the reviewer for doing unpaid work that’s not as easy as it sounds. The world is no more perfect than the new author.