Reviews have been playing on my mind a lot recently.

I am incredibly lucky in that my books are reviewed. 

There I said it. Some authors struggle to get reviews, but I am blessed with some lovely reviews from review blogs and from readers. 

So thank you to every one of you that takes the time to read my books. 

I know some people will like my writing, and some won't. And now, with four years of being an MM writer under my belt I can say that, love or hate my writing, I am just pleased that someone thought to pick up my book and felt moved enough to say something about it.

There has been controversy over on Amazon this week, sock puppets and an author badmouthing readers. I've had my fair share of bad reviews on Amazon, shit happens, some people like your writing, some don't, it's cool (and yes, it has taken me four years to get to that  zen-like acceptance!). There is no excuse for being rude to someone who has commented on your book. Absolutely NO excuse.

There has also been problems for fellow authors on Goodreads because they were publicly angry with a review. My suggestion, if you get a bad review, whatever it says, you have to rise above your initial reaction and simply accept that a) you can't write something that everyone will love and b) everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Otherwise you will be watching yourself star in your own personal car crash on social media. My thoughts are with that author and I send the biggest hugs... because you see, I've been there...

On being reviewed

In my post What would I tell my 2010 self about being an MM writer? - I added in that I should never "respond to that one star review on Goodreads. Because the guy who wrote it is fishing for a fight, and boy will he enjoy that fight." My next point was to add that actually don't join Goodreads in the first place. Why did I say both these things?

I am a sensitive soul who doesn't much like criticism or to be laughed at.

Wait!

Scratch that, I USED to be a sensitive soul, I'm not so much any more. If you stay sensitive you can't ever visit Goodreads. Ever ... Seriously ... Ever.

When I got my first reviews that weren't so good I cried. I bet every author has been there at some point -- it's part of the learning process. It doesn't matter that you may have had a hundred 4* and 5* reviews, it is that single 1* or that DNF that you remember and makes you question your ability. The post Random thoughts on reviews, writing and Lord of the Rings... explains what I did wrong way back when I started out. 

The experience I had was that a reader gave me a 1 for Heart of Texas and said "this read like a soap opera". I was angry. Of course it read like a soap opera... Heart of Texas IS intentionally written with a soap opera feel. So I told him that. Uh oh. I actually told a reviewer he had missed the whole point of the book. Big mistake. Huge. It would have been okay I guess if I had left it at that, but I was butt hurt and I told friends of mine I was upset. A couple of well meaning friends jumped to the defence of the book on Goodreads. 

NOOOOOOOOOOOO.... don't do it, back away! 

Well, it all got out of hand and I was consigned to the *author behaving badly* pile by about five or six people. I was devastated. So you see, I've been there and done that. Because, despite my initial comment in response to the reviewer being kind of tame, everything grew like topsy.

So when I say I used to be a sensitive soul, I have to admit that I am still sensitive, but I have learned ways to deal with things in my head and any upset I feel I just share privately. So in summary...

Simple advice, be butt hurt, sulk in a corner, even have a good cry, but don't involve social media to complain... you're opening up a can of worms. And, most importantly, everyone is entitled to their opinion on your work which is in the public arena, whether you like it or not.

Sighs... The lessons we learn...


22 comments:

  1. Everyone is different. If we all liked the same the same things the world would be boring.
    I'm not the greatest at writing reviews but I do try to always be polite even if I don't like a book then I don't like it but the author has spent hours writing it and should get praised for there dedication.
    I read a blurb and if I think the book isn't for me I don't read it even if it was given to me for free regardless of what the reviews say. I don't like the very dark writing because it gives me sleepless night. I do like a good drama with lots of loving. I love alpha male and love to see them brought to there knees by the sweet guy. Love shifters and vamps, most of these are an easy read for me.
    I don't see the point in arguing with an author when I haven't wrote a book myself. If I was asked a direct question I would then give my opinion.
    I have read a lot of your books RJ nothing that I have read has gotten less than 3 stars. I like your writing style the characters all have sole, but saying that not everyone will like them. Its the same for any author, you will get those that love them, those that hate them and those that think yeah it was ok.
    My advise would be don't get upset for every person that doesn't like a book a least 5 others will love it.

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    1. exactly Tracy... we all have stuff we like and stuff we don't... :) XXXX

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    2. Tracey has said it all. A review needs to be constructive and courteous, regardless of whether the reader likes the book or not. And, this goes for almost everyone in any situation; anything you say 'in public' has the potential of being taken the wrong way. There are MANY times as a reviewer that I have wanted to say: "Did they read the same book I did?" I want to rant and rave about how the reviewer is wrong and didn't get the point of the book, but I don't because nothing I can say is going to change their minds and everything I say could make me look bad. So, RJ, my friend, you have given us some very wise advice.

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  2. It is so tempting to say something, isn't it! But like you, I learnt there was no point. Though I was only the edge of one of these stealth attacks - not me they went for but a friend but my name was trawled into the mess. I complained to Amazon as they had used my real name and I don't review or comment on there using that - so they 'outed' me so to speak and Amazon for once - did something fast and deleted all the posts. BUT - my requests to have a review removed that says I need a shrink - have been ignored. Really - you can't win!

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    1. That is dreadful. If I don't like a book or do not finish reading a book I usually still give 2 stars and usually say a couple of good points but also that the book just wasn't for me.
      I don't get all the author bashing. All there hard work is in that book. I think some people need to grow up and remember what they were taught as children. If you can't say nothing nice then don't say anything at all.
      I'm sorry this happened to you, its even worse that you wern't involved at all.

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    2. Barbara... that's terrible... sorry :(

      Hugs RJ X

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  3. Even when I don't particularly care for a book, I always say why it didn't work for me in my review and point out what did work. It is only my opinion as a reader and I have loved plenty of books that others have dismissed. I have never attacked an author in a review and would not expect to be publicly attacked by an author for putting my opinion out there in an honest and fair manner. What happened on GR and Facebook this week was really appalling. I can imagine it's hard to put yourself out there, but like Tracy said, you can't expect everyone to like the same thing.

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  4. I find it very hard to be negative about a book, after all I choose to buy it and if I don't like it then that's hardly the authors fault. Tbh if I really don't like one, and can't finish it i'll quietly delete it from my Goodreads list.

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    1. You mean you don't get a refund? Rofl... I still can't understand why Amazon let people refund books they have read with no questions... sighs... hugs rjx

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  5. Nice post. I stay away from Goodreads now for that exact reason. I am too sensitive and now, even more than a year after I have last been there, I can recite word for word the bad reviews, which still make me cry even years after they were written. Ask me to quote a good one and my mind goes blank. I literally cannot think of a single quote from any good review.

    I guess in some respects I am lucky because my books don't get reviewed much at all.

    I didn't see the drama this week, but my heart goes out to any author who has got a bad review. It really is like a knife in the gut and I know each time I get one I have to ask myself whether I am doing the right thing by even putting my work out there at all. So far I have stuck at it... so far.

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    1. hugs you LM... come find me if you need to discuss reviews... i think i have my head around them now... :) xxxxx

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  6. Thank you for your words!! I don't respond to reviews unless someone contacts me about them. I appreciate all my reviews. But sometimes I just can't read them. Writers are, by their nature, sensitive. To be called names or have your work mocked (even if that's not what they're doing and it just FEELS like it is!) can be very very difficult and I'm sure it has stopped people from writing. Sometimes permanently. I haven't let it stop me permanently but sometimes I just have to step away and say, "Nope. Not gonna read it. It's great somebody has an opinion but I don't have to read them all."

    Basically, it's hard being a writer in different ways than you'd think it would be. As a reader, I'm absolutely fine when someone doesn't like a certain book. It doesn't matter to me what they think unless our tastes line up. But as a writer, it can be painful to realize "not everyone will like what I write." It's actually fine. It's important to remember that there are people who like what I write, and that's good. I can't please everybody and shouldn't try. :)

    I've learned a lot more about reviews, though, and nowadays I try not to leave negative ones. I don't want the author to read it and have his/her feelings hurt, just because we don't have the same taste.

    I don't ever want to hurt anybody on purpose! Also, I should point out that I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. If you don't like my stories, it doesn't mean you're out to get me. I think some reviewers do behave that way, but it's not really about the books then, it's about bad behavior online. I hate to see that. :(

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    1. Exactly, bad behaviour online presses all my buttons... I hate it... :(

      RJ XXXX

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  7. Sometimes when I read reviews before I purchase a book I'm just in awe of how well people write reviews. I also noticed that two people can make the same (or similar) comment about a book and one thinks it's great while the other is appalled. Of course, being a consumer and not a writer, it's just interesting and not an issue to stress over. ;)

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    1. Sometimes the worst review can result in the best sales... rofl... HUGS XXXXX

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    2. True! I have found more than one book from an adverse review. Didn't someone once say any publicity is good publicity?

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  8. This is really good advice. I've been burned by a review or two, but like you said, there is no way to write a book that will appeal to every person in the world. What I can't seem to do is stay away from Goodreads. I don't interact with reviewers, but it is nice to suddenly stumble upon a good review you haven't seen before.

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    1. I check goodreads every so often...HUGS XXXX

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  9. I remember that review. It was the one that made me buy Heart of Texas and it was my first ever M/M read. I'm not kidding. Bad reviews can often lead a reader to a good book. For me, referencing Dallas made me want to read it simply because I loved the show. It was the best choice I've ever made in a book and since reading it, I've never gone back to M/F.

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    1. awwww Andrea... That is an awesome thing to know... HUGS XXXXXX

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