Book reviews, what do they mean to the author?
This is a question I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I mean there’s the obvious answer: It means their books gets noticed, it gives an indication of what works and what doesn’t. But that’s like statistics. What I’m wondering about is what it means on an emotional level.
As you’ve probably already noticed, I do a lot of book reviews, and a times it has happened that an author has commented on it. Twice on Goodreads, once on Twitter, and once on email. On Goodreads one author said thank you, the other was an author that also thanked me – but she also cleared up a misunderstanding. I know some people don’t like when authors comment on their reviews, but so far I’m liking it.
When I read book 2 & 3 in Ember Cole’s Carnal Mischief series, there was so much extra content in the second book, that it honestly looked stuffed. I took that into consideration with my review, and Ember commented on it. She was so awesome about it, which I really appreciated. Because not only is it great to hear her thoughts behind it, on this case it was an actual misunderstanding that did need clearing up.
It always makes me wonder, how does reviews affect the authors? When writing reviews I always try to stay true to what a book makes me feel, and be respective of the author. However, I’ll be the first one to admit that I sometimes get so caught up in what I feel, that my rants might get out of control. But then again, if the book really made me that upset, sad or annoyed, isn’t it something that should be highlighted in the review?
If I look at it like I’m reviewing something I’ve read and just run with it, its easy enough. But sometimes I can’t help but feel, that I am tearing down what someone put a lot of time, energy and love into. When looking at it like that, its not nice to write a bad review. But if I held back, it would no longer be my honest review, would it? It would be a censured version of my thoughts and feelings.
In order to get a better understanding of what reviews truly means, I’ve reached out to some talented authors: E.M. Moore, Penelope Wren and Eva Chase, and asked them these 3 questions:
1. What does reviews of your book mean to you? Is it “just” to get your books noticed?
Oh reviews are definitely not just to get my books noticed. It is a nice perk, but not the only reason I want those reviews. Sales are lovely and are obviously the lifeblood of the self-published author, but reviews are more personal than a sale and are invaluable in their usefulness. I enjoy seeing what people like about my writing, and what I need to work on. I take notes on what didn’t work and what did, and try to adapt accordingly.
Reviews mean a lot of things to me! They’re definitely a great way to spread the word about the books with other readers. But they also show me how readers are reacting to the books and give me an idea of what I’m doing that’s working well and what I might want to tweak in later books. And they’re a wonderful source of inspiration in general, because seeing them tells me that people care enough about the books to want to share their thoughts.
Reviews mean a lot to me. I read every single one of them. Yes, even the bad ones. Sometimes they depress me, but really, it’s important to listen to what readers are saying. If everyone picked apart this one aspect of my book, I would know not to do that the next time. The good reviews, though, are the kind that boost you up and make you want to keep writing. I love it when readers write how much they loved my books in a review or message me. It’s great to know that I’m not just writing into a void. It should be a two-way street, so reviews are one way to make that happen.
2. How does the positive and/or negativity affect you personally and in terms of future books?
I’m not going to lie and say it doesn’t hurt my feelings to read negative comments about something I’ve created, because it does. And it has actually hurt my productivity on a sequel novel that I’ve written and am currently editing, because I go back and forth on whether or not I should even bother continuing with something so many people disliked.
But, at the end of the day, as an author you have to swallow your pride and put yourself out there again. If you quit just because you can’t please everyone, you’re not ever going to be able to produce anything ever again.
And I’ve also found that the loudest voices are often not the majority opinion, they’re simply just that– the loudest voices. Even best-selling authors have their critics, it’s just a matter of letting the negativity roll off your back and honing your craft on the next attempt.
A glowing review can make my day. I’d be writing regardless, but it’s easier to get into that zone when I know people are eagerly waiting the rest of the story. Negative reviews can sometimes have the opposite effect, making it harder to find the energy to get into the creative flow. But I’ve been at this for a long time, and I’ve gotten better at seeing negative reviews as just an indication that the book was a bad fit for that reader. As long as lots of people are loving the story, I’ve clearly gotten things right, and there’s no book that appeals to absolutely everyone.
In terms of future books, I’ll take note of things people mention particularly liking or having a problem with, but I’ll only tweak things later on if that still fits with my vision.
Everyone is not going to like everything I produce. And that’s okay. (It’s a hard lesson, and one I’m still struggling to learn!)
The positive reviews usually only boost my emotional state. I don’t look for them as a way to write the next book. Not because readers opinions aren’t valid, but because I want the book to be all about my creativity. If I listened to every review, the books would come out with a myriad of things that wouldn’t make any sense together. For instance, if someone wrote, “I love alphas! Always put alphas in your book!” And then the other wrote, “Shy, nerdy guys are the best!”, you could see how that’s conflicting. I guess that’s why writing Reverse Harem works so well!!
I do get down about negative reviews, and there have been times when they’ve made me not want to write. (That’s when you go read all the 5 stars!) But, I like to read them for feedback. Maybe the reviewer says something valid. Other times, I just remember that every book isn’t for everyone. I dislike tons of books that others love. My sister and I constantly talk about books and what works for her sometimes doesn’t work for me. It can be subjective.
3. Do you ever comment on book reviews you read? Both positive and negative.
I don’t comment on reviews, no.
Do you ever comment on book reviews you read? Both positive and negative.
If someone tags me on a positive review, I’ll sometimes comment to thank them. Negative reviews I don’t generally respond to at all, unless tagged and the reviewer had a question I can answer. I feel reviews are mainly for fellow readers, so it’s not my place to insert myself into that space unless I’m expressly invited.
I never comment. It was one of those rules that was told to me when I first started out and I held to it. I’ve heard authors say that reviews are for other readers, and they really are. I want readers to feel comfortable in saying whatever they want in a review. If I commented on them, I feel like it would skeeve some readers out. Sometimes I really want to comment on the positive ones though!
As I’ve mentioned towards the top of the post, I like when authors comment on my reviews. But I do understand it’s a fine line! Because if the authors come off as defensive, or like they can’t handle criticism, it’s not going to be the best foundation for communication between the reviewer and author.
But I will say, that it was great to hear from an author POV what reviews means to them, and they are used. So a huge thank you to Penelope, Eva & E.M. for answering my questions!
If you want to
stalk follow these three lovely ladies, here’s a few of the ways:
What does reviews mean to you? Do you use them to decide whether or not to read a book? Or do you prefer to make your own decision? Let’s talk in the comments!