If you’re a writer, perhaps your initial reaction is to cringe at the thought of someone, possibly a total stranger, writing a review of your book. This individual probably has no idea who you are as a person or a writer, isn’t familiar with your artistic or personal struggles, and may not possess the qualifications to review what you’ve created.
Or maybe you’ll chill out about the thought of someone writing a review of your work because, after all, your mom gave you a five-star review, and who’s stupid enough to argue with your mom, right?
Or maybe reviews roll off your back because you’re truly confident that your work not only satisfies you and your goals but is really darn good, and you’re rightfully proud of it. You don’t live in fear of reviews and reading them doesn’t faze you.
What if the review is good? What if it’s bad? What if it’s mediocre, and you’d have appreciated a stronger loved it or loathed it reaction?
It wasn’t until I realized that readers could leave a review on BookBaby or Goodreads for my novel, Realm, that I began to think about reviews. Reviews are coming, and that’s great because it means people are reading Realm. Do I want readers to love my novel? Of course, I do. That’s why I wrote it. I’m hoping people will get the same experience when reading Realm that I had while writing it.
But do I want to use this post to influence reader reviews? Absolutely not. The critiques have already occurred, so I’m using the easy ones to soften the blow of the harder ones that may come. And I’m not living in fear of reviews.
In my experience of reading reviews for books, I have found that they fell heavily in the five-star or one-star ratings with a sprinkling of two-, three-, and four-star reviews in between. People who left five stars quite often made the mistake of writing a lengthy synopsis and one line stating they loved the book. One-star reviewers simply said they hated it.
Despite reviews, I always make up my own mind whether or not I’ll read a book, but I’m still curious what other people thought about it. Truer reviews seem to be found in the two-, three-, and four-star comments. These people explain the why behind their statements, and that’s where I find a connection with other readers because, quite frankly, I’d like to connect with someone else over a book even if we disagree!
This is also where people will explain things such as why they awarded the number of stars they did as well as admit that what they didn’t care for did not ruin the entire book for them. That’s honest reviewing.
Some reviewers apply their own stars in their comments, which I find extremely helpful. They rate characters and their arcs separately from dialog, prose, description, and overall storytelling. It takes a bit of time, but one can tell these readers really care about what they’ve read and what they provided in return. I find these reviews to be most sincere.
Often, I must scroll through a lot of bad reviews to find the ones written by people who understand the value of a well-written critique. Most importantly, I try very hard to be the type of person who writes the kind of reviews I enjoy reading.
So again, am I trying to influence your comments? No, I promise I’m not. Rather, let’s see if we can generate something akin to a real conversation within reviews for Realm.