Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Why I Like Bad Reviews

I didn't used to like them. A bad review would upset me for days, back when UNCUT DIAMONDS first came out. FARM GIRL was one of those books that most everyone loved, so I got spoiled. Then when my novel came out I figured it would be more of the same-- a huge lovefest of joy with readers thinking I was awesome and loving all my books and soon I'd be on Oprah, well you know the story. What writer hasn't followed the same train of thought as you complete your amazing work that you just know the world is waiting for?

Hey, I'm no different, I'll admit to my flights of fancy. But now I'm all grown up as a writer-- I have two books out after all LOL *pathetic, I know, I blame the procrastinating*-- and as I check Amazon and Goodreads reviews, I realize how glad I am for those horrible one-star reviews on UNCUT. Now that there's enough really good ones to balance them out, of course. If it was all 1 or 2-star reviews, I'd be in trouble.

But the bad ones give my work legitimacy. Someone checking out the reader reviews will see that I didn't stack the deck with friends and family writing fake reviews just to make me look good.

In fact, here's what I ask. If you read Farm Girl or Uncut Diamonds and didn't like it so much, will you please please please go to the Amazon site (link included) or Goodreads and give it an honest, not-so-much review?

Of course, a good review is much appreciated as well. UNCUT DIAMONDS is beginning to pick up on Kindle sales, and reviews can only help! If you go to the FARM GIRL Amazon site, however, don't buy it there, as WiDo is now running a special sale, available for $5.95 on the website.

So there you have it people. My take on why bad reviews can be good. If you give me a poor review, we can still be friends! Serious, really, I'm not just saying that. Ask Jessica Bell, she gave UNCUT an honest 3-star review which I think is just so cool.

Don't you get kind of suspicious when you go to a site and every review is a gusher? That's as bad as them all being 1 or 2-stars, imho. Because you're not sure that they are real. *Omigosh and I had planned on this being a short post. Aargh!*

39 comments:

  1. I just bought Uncut Diamonds this morning on Kindle. I haven't read it yet but I'll be sure to give it a bad review! ;)

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  2. Clarissa, you are so funny :) It's a deal. If you hate it please say so. um.. well maybe...you can find one or two good things to report as well..hehe.

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  3. I've a couple 'eh' reviews, including one from Publisher's Weekly. Of course, as you said, it's balanced by great reviews, including one from Library Journal.
    I guess I can live with those 'eh' reviews...

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  4. I have to be honest, I don't get suspicious when every review is a gusher. Of course there are trolls who are out to diss anything and everything, but I think the vast majority of reviewers are just honest.

    But a review is just subjective, and I never forget that. If a cover or blurb appeal to me, then I am going to read it.

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  5. Donna, You're clearly more trusting than I am. A nice mix of reviews will convince me to buy a book more than a plethora of gushing reviews.

    Alex, You did well to get reviews from these two places at all. I haven't seen your reviews there, now I am really curious. Must check out your sidebar, assuming you have them posted?

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  6. I'll have to remember your philosophy when I (hopefully) get to that point. You have a great attitude about it all. :)

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  7. I look at bad reviews like this. Anyone who cared enough to review it regardless of whether or not they liked the material does me a great service because they at least respond to what I've said or written.

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  8. Jeffrey, Well in a couple cases with my novel there were readers who apparently hated it so much they couldn't wait to get that out there. It's a long story. And you're right, any response is better than no response. I say, let it all go into the mix.

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  9. I am still in the "oh no," stage. But I only have one bad review out of nine. Our writing is so much a part of who we are, I think it's hard to take. I like your attitude. Maybe it will grow on me.
    Nancy
    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium

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  10. I got your Farm Girl cos I liked the extract and was not disappointed and it was a lovely read too!

    I'd like to think I'm honest with my reviews though! I hope so!

    Take care
    x

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  11. I haven't had a 'bad' review but I have ones that gave me some not so nice comments mixed in with the good. But the critical comments made sense.

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  13. Really good post Karen - it's true that a site with only top notch reviews can come across as suspicious. :) there's no way every person will love every books, so it's good to see from all sides.

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  14. Besides, a poor review tells you what hit people the wrong way, a great insight to have about your demographics.

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  15. Well, a great book causes every kind of reaction. The more intense reaction the better!XD :P

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  16. There's always one in the crowd, Karen. You have a great attitude though.
    I know it's hard not to take it personally.

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  17. One of the things I actually look for whenever I'm buying anything, be it a book or a movie, is a bad review. I like to see what others find the worst parts of something, as well as the best. If I can live with the bad points, or don't considerthem bad points myself, I know I'll enjoy the good points.

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  18. Great post! I always imagined that, if I got published, the bad reviews wouldn't bother me because I'd look at it like, "Well, the agent and editor and publisher people all liked it enough to put it in print, and they read all the time, so it couldn't be that bad, right?" I'm guessing bad reviews are part of any writer's career, though they must be tough to swallow now and then :)

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  19. OR! It could just be that good... yes? ;p I've downloaded Uncut Diamonds, but haven't had a chance to read it yet. When I do, I'll review/interview~ :o) <3

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  20. LTM, I hope you review it even if you don't like it! Or if there are things you don't like about it. Really, I mean that.

    Jess, The reviews I'm referring to were ones that came from a particular target audience that were given the book through a book club giveaway, that turned out to make ME the target LOL. It has taken me over a year to come to terms with the reaction, thus this post. I'm free now! I can deal with it and even appreciate it. Which is a wonderful feeling.

    Paul, I'm with you. I will always consider the bad reviews when I'm looking to purchase. As I look at mine from readers, I can see the bad ones are so mean-spirited that most people will say 'What's her problem?' rather than even give it any credibility. But still, I think it gives Uncut Diamonds credibility as a work that inspires a passionate response (even if it IS hatred LOL).

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  21. Even a bad review is good press, so they say, right? Now I simply must check out Uncut Diamonds! :)

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  22. I only recently wondered if people do stack these reviews. Intriguing post.

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  23. LOL! I didn't give you a bad review! It just wasn't my cup of tea, but I still totally appreciated the authenticy of your work! ;o) and you know what, I hope you'll give my debut an honest review too! And there won't be any hard feelings. I promise! :o) I appreciate honesty as much as you. I know all authors say there's this karma thing going. But sheesh, why is three stars considered bad? (I know you're not saying it's bad, I'm just sayin') I don't get it.

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  24. Now here's a woman who sees the bright side in everything! Love it, Karen!

    Jai

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  25. Jai, glad you love it, and I really hope you will do a blog series on your 48 state book tour.

    Jessica, Yours isn't the one I speak of when I say "bad review" yours was simply an honest, non-gushing review. Too often friends will gush in a review, and I greatly appreciated that you simply gave a real response not a *she's a friend so will only say good stuff* review. The bad reviews were those 1 -star bits with the two words "hated it" or "losey book". Oh, and I thought I was past it, hmmm yet I still have the words memorised LOL.

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  26. I wish I could cope with criticism like you do. I have been known to sit and cry after returning home from my writing critique group. I really must toughen up a bit.

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  27. This is why I don't go to Amazon and read reviews - I don't look for reviews anywhere..my editor will send me one every so often and I read it - I just decided not to read them about a year and a half ago or more and it lifted such a weight off my shoulders! :-)

    But yes, there will always be "bad" reviews - every book on the planet will get them :-D

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  28. It's always good to hear different points of view. I started to write about books that I read when I was injured last year and couldn't do much else but read. So I reviewed them on Wednesdays on my blog. I found that my reviews were almost always good, simply because I don't read books I don't like. If they come from the library then they are gone, if they are mine I will revisit them and sometimes change my mind. My point: I noticed most of my reviews are good ones for this reason.--Inger

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  29. I'm always suspicious of 'gushers' myself, so we have that in common. And a bad review can be very enlightening and useful. I hadn't thought of it in the sense you pointed out...the not stacking the deck or even enlisting friends.

    As long as they don't get mean about it....

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  30. You're so right. Right now I'm reading a novel that's critically acclaimed, but I like it that there were a few bad reviews for it. It made the novel seem more real to me.

    I added Uncut Diamonds to my wish list.

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  31. You gotta' have those bad reviews are else it will all go to your head....and you would eventually go around thinking that you could just whip out a novel without even trying. It does tend to keep one honest, I think.

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  32. And we've got to keep in mind that different people have different tastes, different measuring sticks for what is good, and just different ways of reviewing. On Amazon, I will usually go read the bad reviews first and many times I will find that the "bad" review is not about the product itself, but of the service Amazon provided. I have even found one star reviews that were good and maybe the reviewer didn't understand the star rating system or they were just trying to get attention for some reason(weird). But as I stated on my blog a while back: a bad review is better than no reviews at all.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  33. I like your take on bad reviews. I think it's something I'll have to remember for the future when my book comes out and Opra starts calling me ;) It's so true what you say though -- if a book has only good reviews, it becomes suspect.

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  34. Bahaha Clarissa still has me chuckling. I never thought to see how many bad reviews vs. good reviews are there. However when I am searching for a novel it's because it was suggested by someone so I don't worry about the reviews.

    Cover's are where it's at for me. A nice strong cover and you'll have me hooked, regardless of the content (at first).

    I love your outlook. I hope if and when I am a published author that after the pain first sets in that I learn to take the bad reviews in stride and embrace them.

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  35. When I first saw you liked 1 or 2 star reviews, I was waiting for the twist, but now I get it.

    It's true, if they're all gushing reviews, I think it's just friends and family too. To me, a five-star book has to have it all just about perfect. Four means it's very good, but I had a problem with something. And three is still solid, but there were one or two things I didn't love. I would still read and recommend a book that had a three-star review.

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  36. Theresa, It's interesting to see how different people view the rating system. I give a lot of the books I read 5 stars. I will do 1 or 2 if I really hate the book, i.e. can't finish it, but never for a friend. If I dislike a friend's book so much that I can't finish it, I just won't post a review. You and Jessica are right-- a 3 star review is not a bad one. It just means that altho you aren't in love with it, it's still worth reviewing.

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  37. Hi Karen! I don't know what I did but my previous message above just got deleted. So I will re-post it. May not be word for word though.

    What a positive thing to say about bad reviews, Karen. I hope that when I get published, I will remember what you said. As for giving a 1-star review, it's incomprehensible to me because as a writer I know the time, effort and hardwork one puts into her/his work. Besides, the story gets reviewed by a number of people before it gets published - beta readers, fellow writers, critique partners and then finally an agent and a publisher when you get to that point. So I don't understand a 1-star review. Also, I don't read the books I don't like so after about 3 chapters, I don't like it, I don't finish reading it. I'm now quite intrigued about your book and will put it on my TBRs.

    In addition, if the plot or the back cover blurb intrigues me it's interesting enough for me to read the whole book. Thanks for a wonderful post!

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  38. I never thought about the 1 and 2 star reviews adding legitimacy to the reviews. That's a really great point. But wow you are brave to full on ask for people who didn't enjoy to post! I admire that!

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  39. Thanks, Karen. I never thought about this before so I'm getting another perspective. Great post!

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