Monday, March 21, 2011

Review Magic!

Reviews. We love them, we hate them. We wait breathlessly until notice of the first one arrives for each of our books. We complain when, sometimes, they never arrive because there are so many books out there that the competition is stiff.
If they're wonderful our eyes light up and that warm feeling of validation steals over us. We crow about it to the world, publishing the news on all our loops, our blogs, our newsletters etc... If the reviews are less than wonderful we try to find the positives, brush off our graciousness skills, or point out that not everyone can like everything we write. That sometimes a reviewer is a bad match for a book. Or, less graciously, we curse out the reviewer, imply their stupidity or lack of moral fortitude, and find the nearest voodoo doll to work out our aggressions. If we're smart, we avoid these last behaviors in public and never let a lick of it appear on the web.
I'd say, overall, I have been lucky with my reviews. No voodoo dolls have been harmed following my notice of a book rating. And of course I'm proud when I receive a stellar review. But I do in fact believe there is a somewhat arbitrary component of this process. Why else can the same book receive five stars and one star and everything in between in one fell swoop. Or maybe the random part is how we as individuals internalize the news depending on how secure we are about ourselves as writers and as human beings.
I'd like to say reviews mean nothing to me. I'd be lying. I want the attention, the validation, the soothing of my doubts about my worth as a writer. But, ironically, good reviews make me feel uncomfortable as well. There are amazing reviews for many books which I do not personally consider well written. So what does my review actually mean? Is there some sort of grade inflation at work?
Like with almost everything that happens to us in life, we make meaning of these events and tuck them into our particular world perspective. A glass half full mindset keeps our cups on the cusp of brimming over no matter what the reviewer says. A glass half empty attitude means no matter how positive, the liquid is always in danger of draining away and is doing so at this very moment.
So what do you think about reviews? How do you handle them, the good and bad? As a reader, how much do they matter to you?
By the way, I did happen to receive my first review of Fettered Love from Night Owl Reviews. 4.75 out 5 stars and a Reviewer Top Pick. Not too shabby. It must mean I'm hot shit. Maybe you should pick up a copy. (Grin)


Wynter Daniels said...

I always consider the source of a review before I get too excited or down. I admit, though, a review has the power to make or break my day.

Ashlyn Chase said...

I'm with Wynter. I wish I didn't give them so much weight. Although recently I received a review that wasn't great and it didn't bother me...much. LOL. Maybe I'm finally developing that thick skin people talk about? I can only hope!

Of course I'd like all my reviews to glow, but that's just unrealistic. Even Nora Roberts has her critics.

Michelle Polaris said...

Yes, the source does mean something. For instance, when a review came from an author hero of mine, I considered it the moon and stars.

Ash, I find there are times our skin thickens, and then suddenly you hit a paper thin patch. Almost without knowing. And you're right, we're all in the same boat as Nora in a way.

Naima said...

As a relatively new author, I have to admit, I'm a review whore. Especially that first great one...I was like, they like me! They really like me! And that first negative one almost made me want to write the person and ask, what do you mean? What didn't you like?? By now, I've found some balance, but I still love to read a great review. Like Wynter it has the power to make or break my day. And don't have let me have had a fight with the hubby or the kids bring home a red note...a perfect storm! LOL!

But even better than the reviews are those emails you get from readers who tell you how much they really enjoyed the book. Those beat even the most raving review from a site!

Dalton Diaz said...

As long as it's obvious that the reviewer really read the book, there's not much more you can ask for.