There's nothing like a bad review to cripple the creative process and smother my desire to keep writing new books. But, hey, I've volunteered to share my books with an audience. No one has forced me at gun-point to subject my stuff to the opinions of the masses. Because I've also decided that I'd rather indie-publish rather than lobby for an agent and a publisher, it goes without saying that I've inadvertently decided to pay attention to what reviewers say. Even with all this crazy volunteerism, there's no way around what a negative review can do to my psyche when it comes time to work.
What happens when I go check my accounts and a one-star review glares at me with its mind-numbing, cyclopean rage? Do I read it? Do I ignore it?
I read it. Because I love punishment. But not in the way you're thinking. This isn't Fifty Shades of Grey (never read it . . . I mean, I just know what it's about, right? Right).
I read the one-star review. And it will affect my writing. It will get into my head and destroy me for at least a day. Yeah, a day! Occasionally less if something positive happens afterwards. Like if I win the lottery or the Publisher's Clearinghouse or Bingo down at the senior's center.
Something I do to get over a bad review (the one healthy thing I do): I check out the negative reviews stuck like barnacles all over my favorite books, which, in this metaphor, are whales. The only bad thing that comes of this practice is that once in a great while, I can't help myself and I end up defending the book, because my blood gets boiling over about the criticism. Yeah. That can be one of the terrible side effects of looking at the negative reviews of the books I like.
So, to prevent that, I read the negative reviews of books that I don't really love, or haven't read, but that I know have gotten massive amounts of critical acclaim from the entire universe and the multi-verse too. I'm not invested, so the bad reviews don't touch me.
Every book gets bad reviews, and if they don't, something's wrong. Even if there's nothing even remotely wrong with the book according to five billion reviews, there's bound to be some imbecile who feels it necessary to blame the author for something that's not the author's fault. I've seen with my own eyes reviews about the following: it took more than three days for the book to arrive by mail and the reviewer is ticked; the reviewer swears they never bought the book and it just magically showed up on their e-reader; the reviewer is annoyed that the book isn't available on Kindle yet; the reviewer saw a llama eating lasagna and it made them never want to eat noodles again (llamas do that to me too; can’t blame them, really).
Smart. I'm not sure why people do this, except maybe that they have an axe to grind and they know that someone will actually see it, rather than if they try to complain to Amazon. Who knows what happens to your complaint once you hit 'send' on a form. Does it reach the appropriate party? I don't know. No idea. So, well, in that case, it looks like authors get the brunt of customer frustration for a corporate problem (chain of communication).
I know how that feels.
Unless a book is plagued with hundreds of bad reviews, chances are, the negative feedback is just bad moods, anti-romance tastes, "young adults behave stupidly," "not enough people died," and other similar feelings coming through in a negative review. But it's impossible to please all the people, all the time. One-star reviews can also lead to more sales–specifically when what is reviewed badly is stuff another reader loves. Like romance. And teen angst. And too much violence. Or too much sex (not enough!).
For me, I just have to remember that a bad review isn't always bad (unless it's not a review of the book). Because really, even when my book annoys someone, I'm often quite thankful they even took the time to read it, let alone put up a review. It would be nice to be able to please every reader, all the time. But as the most well-reviewed books show us, that's just not possible.
Seventeen-year-old Retta Heikkinen is in love with a boy–a thoroughly gorgeous, captivating, and mysterious boy known as Hemingway. The situation is rather ideal: he likes her, she likes him. There's just one little problem.
He's a blue heart, an android.
Being in a relationship is its own complicated mess, but how long can a forbidden love last? Soon Retta discovers a secret that could destroy the uneasy truce between the blue hearts and humans, which makes life under the domes on Mars possible. Would exposing what she knows make things better or worse? And how can she know for certain without exposing the secret?
Blue Hearts of Mars has made it to the quarterfinals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Readers are invited to download the excerpts (here) and rate and comment on the entries. So please, if you want to contribute, download and rate Blue Hearts! Your support is incredibly appreciated!
Nicole wrote her first fantasy novel in 7th grade on her mother's old Brother typewriter. It was never finished but it strongly resembled a Dragonlance plot and she's forever wondered what happened to the manuscript and Tonathan–the handsome elven protagonist. After living in Nashville where she worked as an editor, she returned to the Utah desert where she was raised. Nicole now lives near the Wasatch mountains with her husband. She writes and raises her son and three cats full time.
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