What to do… what to do… with those reader reviews? (pt. 1)
(Warning: I use swears in this one, because it feels right.)
I know many of my counterparts have made it a hard and fast rule to never read reviews. Now, the reasons for why such a rule would be necessary are as varied as the writers themselves, but for the most part the rule seems to be derived from a healthy sense of self-preservation.
With that in mind, I am clearly a masochistic and tragically self-destructive wazzock (don’t you love British slang?). About once a month I pour myself a double Maker’s Mark neat, and I have a quick go at the reviews… or they have a go at me as is often the case. Sometimes it’s brutal. Like the one review of my first book Waking Forever where a reader wrote a dissertation about how disrespectful I was to have two of my lesbian characters meet in a concentration camp during World War II. I could never figure out if he was upset about the lesbian element and/or the vampires. I won’t make light of the review, it was jarring.
From time-to-time I come across a review that doesn’t make me question my entire life and what a piece of shit I must be, and why no one bothered to tell me about said piece of shit. Because, look, I truly am more interested in being enlightened and educated than I am in being right. So, when a reviewer comments that I use brand names too often, and that it makes me seem lazy and incapable of crafting a descriptive sentence (this was a review of my second book Becoming Forever), I can work with that. As a result, short of occasionally naming my character’s liquor of choice, or intentionally referencing a luxury watch brand to make a point about the character’s socio-economic status, name brands and I aren’t so chummy anymore.
In the end, I know I’m too nosy to not read reviews; so, that proverbial ship sailed years ago. However, what I have come to realize is once I publish a book, it isn’t really mine alone anymore. It’s out there for general consumption, and folks are going to make of it what they will. I am happy to report that, with few exceptions, the reviews of my books are at or above 4.0 out of 5.0 (that bit is me making sure you don’t think I write complete rubbish).
So, review often… it does help the authors you love to be found in the vastness that is Amazon. All I humbly ask is if you are going to write a scathing review, please… please for the love of everything that is holy… at least get the characters’ names right (true story).