Let’s face it. Book reviews are the lifeblood of authorship. We try and restrain our giddiness when notification of a new review shows up in our inbox. We know the importance of a good review. It has the potential of massaging our ego and our sales, neither of which is a bad thing. So what do we do when a stinker shows up?
I started thinking about this the other day whilst looking at a book on Amazon. With this particular book, there were several hundred reviews. A vast, vast majority were 4 or 5 stars. That tells me a lot as someone considering a purchase. Looking a little further, I saw that there were several 1 star reviews as well. I thought about it and quite frankly I was a bit annoyed. I mean, really? Virtually everyone loved this book and yet there was that one curmudgeon who had to swim against the tide. And, it wasn’t just a “not my cup of tea” review (those don’t warrant a one star either), it was a lambasting of the author and the story.
When I worked at the local library, I checked out a book that had received rave literary reviews. I was absolutely intrigued by the story line and I couldn’t wait to dive in. I opened to the first page, stared for a minute, then blinked. There was no punctuation. No quotations around dialogue, no commas. My brain had a little seizure. I gave it my best effort. I wanted to read it. I tried. Lord knows, I tried. But I couldn’t do it. The punctuation thing was just too much. When I post my review on Amazon, I was dead honest. I didn’t blame the author. I was matter-of-fact in my assessment of my apparent lack of flexibility. Ultimately I gave the book a 3 star rating because I felt a 1 star would be grossly unfair to folks trying to make a book purchasing decision. Interestingly, you wouldn’t believe the amount of feedback that comment receives – all of it positive.
Some folks always need to play the devil’s advocate. They derive some sort of self satisfaction by being different from the crowd. Personally I think this is disingenuous. The lesson here is that authors need to keep their suit of armor at hand and not let these folks bring you down. Keep these things in perspective. Think about any kind of surveys you may have seen about virtually anything. A majority usually falls one way or the other and then there is a spattering of folks who insist on being the anchors on the other end.
What I’m saying here is for you, as an author, need to keep your reviews in the proper perspective. If all of your reviews are positive and you receive one stinker, consider where the stink is being generated from. Chances are it’s not your book.