When I was growing up my father used to say, “You can please some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you’re never going to please all of the people all of the time, so stop worrying about it and please yourself.” I have found that little pearl to be wise advice because let’s face it, everyone has an opinion.
Reviews are part of every author’s life whether they like it or not. It doesn’t matter if the review comes from family, friends, a critique partner or the intended audience of readers and reviewers. For most of us, those reviews represent a love-hate relationship. On the one hand, it’s nice to know what you are doing right and that there are people out there who love your work. On the other, who enjoys hearing how much someone disliked something that took months to write?
I always find it interesting how different people deal with the negative feedback. Some authors just laugh off a bad review while others take every word to heart and carry those negative feelings around for years. I have even heard horror stories of authors abandoning their writing altogether after being discouraged by a callous critique.
With that said, I’m going to show you why harboring those negative feelings over one person’s opinion may not be the best course of action. As you’ll see from the following reviews what one person loves, another hates.
Anita Clenney—”Awaken the Highland Warrior”
“After 20%, the amount of leaps in logic and lack of world building have me at a loss…”
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“…the world that Clenney has created is fascinating and has great potential for many books. I enjoyed the fact that the author paid attention to every detail, she gave you enough information to keep you puzzled in one chapter but held the answer until further into the book. I just couldn’t put the book down… I can’t wait for the next book!”
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“I am glad I only paid 99 cents, but am disgusted at my wasted hours spent hoping it would get better. It never did. It had a great premise. If it was edited to 1/2 the pages and their attraction was more believable, I may have enjoyed it. Instead I am just angry about my invested time.”
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“The storyline that ran through-out this book was fantastic. I really liked the whole Warriors vs. Demons. The story had so many twists and turns, it constantly keeps you guessing. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen and who the bad guy’s are… something else happens and completely throws you off the scent. It was beyond genius!”
“Basically, the main word I’d use to describe Enchanted is bizarre. Even before I ultimately decided it wasn’t going to get any better and I couldn’t care less about the characters, I thought that this was a very bizarre story… Fairytales are supposed to revolve around circumstances that are unnatural, for lack of a better word. But I’ve never read a story as flippant and (it appears to me), careless as Enchanted…”
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“…Sunday’s grand adventure and magical story of love and redemption ensnared me with all it’s glory. Alethea Kontis made me remember why I used to beg my dad to read me fairy tales at bedtime. She reminded me why I still wish upon a star and believe in true love. This enchanted story about a girl named Sunday will make you dream of your own fairytale and yearn for the next installment of this bespelled series!!”
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“Rare are the books I find so painful that reviewing them becomes a chore; writing a review means thinking about them when I would rather leave them forgotten. Despite hopes that it would not turn out as such, Enchanted is one of those books.”
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“Alethea Kontis’ “Enchanted” is a mixture of all the endearing fantasies we enjoyed as children… I must applaud on the author’s effortless delivery that comes out undeniably appealing. This is the kind of book deserving of your attention and holds it inescapably.”
Nora Roberts–“The Next Always: Book One of the Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy”
“…I’ve never contemplated not finishing a book of hers until now. I love how she usually finds an area of interest to focus on in books… I’ve learned so much about ballet, fire jumping, flowers, wedding planning and so much more. However, the detail that she goes into with this book is just ridiculous. I’m about a third of the way through and it feels like I’ve spent about 5 minutes with the characters and hours reading about fence pickets, color schemes and copper tubs. I’m so disappointed…”
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“I enjoyed the relaxed pace, the cozy and lovely setting and the lovely characters… Boonsboro is a great place to set the book and thanks to all the little details Nora Roberts added to the story I was able to imagine the town and it’s buildings very easily… The love story was very sweet and I loved the way it progressed.”
This shows how subjective reviews really are. They are one person’s opinion and are colored by that person’s life experiences, reading preferences, preconceived ideas and the reader’s frame of mind when they were reading your story. What one reader loves, another may hate. And that’s okay, because everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.
If you are a writer then you have to accept that you will have both good and bad reviews. No matter who you are or how great your writing is, even the fabulous Nora Roberts, there will be some people that won’t enjoy your work. But before you decide to stop writing forever because of someone’s callous remark, or before you decide that everyone who does not love your book is an idiot, I will offer some cautionary advice: If you are being told the same thing over and over again by different people, then you may want to consider that there is validity to that criticism. And if someone tells you something that you don’t want to hear, it is always better to respond with an, “I’m sorry that you did not enjoy my book, but thank you for taking the time to read it,” rather than attacking that person’s opinion. You can always tell them they’ve been taken over by demented brain weasels in your mind. 🙂
Just remember, reviews do not define the writer but, taken with a grain of salt, they can help us improve our craft. Please tell me how reviews, both good and bad, have influenced your own writing.