As a writer, book reviews are critical. I have taken it upon myself over the past 6 to 8 months, to become a reviewer. I want to help my fellow writers draw attention to their work. I also hope that others will do the same for me.
It is said that there is no such thing as a bad review. Every review adds to the author's visibility, and since each reader is different, each review will likely focus on a different aspect of what the writer has to offer. There is definitely truth to this. The more numbers you have, the higher you go up the list. Simple math, and all of that. (Remember, I'm a writer, not a mathematician, but I still get the basics ;)
There is nothing like the feeling of getting a five star review. Even if the person knows you, and is biased because they gave birth to you, or have been sharing their deepest secrets with you since your tweens, these reviews are amazing. Then there are those ones you get from people you've never met, and you think, "wow, I've actually managed to touch someone. This is going somewhere."
On the other hand, there are also one star reviews. Imagine getting kicked in the stomach, then having an elephant sit on your chest. That's sort of what a one star review feels like. It's bad enough to know that someone really didn't enjoy what you were trying to say, but it doesn't end there. I'll never forget reading a blog post by mega selling indie author, Amanda Hawking. She has finally released the final book in her "My Blood Approves," series, but doing so took her years because of negative reviews. People who reviewed her book, rather than simply saying how they felt about the stories or the characters, turned to talking about what a horrible person she must be for even writing such trash. In turn, that made her feel like these books that she enjoyed sharing with the world somehow made her less of a person.
Not everyone will like every book. You can't make everyone happy. It's not possible, even if you write a book that is a best seller, or that wins awards left and right. Even if your book is published in more languages than you knew existed, and has millions of five star reviews, there will be someone who reads it and says, "meh." And it is totally okay for people not to like a book, or to think it is poorly written, or to be unable to identify with the characters, but why do they have to make it personal? Why do they feel the need to belittle the author, just because they didn't like what that person wrote?
I have some theories about nasty one star reviewers, but they aren't overly positive. Personally, I think they're probably compensating for something, and rather than dealing with their own issues, they're using their powers of good for evil. Okay, you can write a scathing review, but maybe you shouldn't pat yourself on the back for the fact that you took someone's dream and crushed it in the cruelest way imaginable.
I could go on and on about this topic, but I'd rather switch to something more positive and save the rest for another time. I'm going to do a talk about my book next week. I have no idea if anyone will show up, but it's the first time I've done anything like this, which means I'm filled with that weird mix of excited nervousness that won't settle until I'm driving home at the end of the evening. I've done plenty of public speaking as a teacher, but it's different when you have to go up and be vulnerable about a topic that is dear to your heart: your precious book baby. So here's to hoping I have an audience, and that they're open to hearing about what led me to write One Week In November.
I'm also hoping to have fresh publication news really soon as I re-release The Darkening Dragons. I'm definitely squirrely with excitement about that, so stay tuned :)