From Writing Book Reviews to Reading Reviews of My Book
Hi, everyone, and thank you, Laura, for inviting me to your blog.
First, I want to state right away that Laura and I write in entirely different genres. She (as I’m sure you know) writes creepy horror stories, and my story, THE SEVENFOLD SPELL, is a sensual fairy tale retelling. But we both are eclectic in our reading tastes, and perhaps you will be as well. THE SEVENFOLD SPELL is the first in a series of fairy tale retellings, each standalone, which tells the stories of innocent bystanders who are caught up in the magic of the tale. The series name is Accidental Enchantments.
Laura and I have never met in person, but I’ve “known” her since 2007, when her first book, Isabella Moon, came out. Back then, I was running a book blog called Fantasy Debut, and Laura did a post on—guess what?—reading reviews as a former book reviewer. So when she invited me to write a post for her blog, she asked me to blog on the same thing.
The first week of reviews for THE SEVENFOLD SPELL was scary. The first review was a three-star review, where the reviewer liked the story, but didn’t love it. I was fine with this. I’ve written a strange little novella. However, the second review was two stars on GoodReads, and the reviewer had trouble with the sexual content.
GoodReads has a strange rating system, and two stars means “It was OK.” The only truly negative rating is a one star review. Still, we want as many stars as we can get! For a while, I was really racking up the two star reviews and my little heart was breaking. They all said the same thing—they liked it well enough, except for the sensual content.
Then, I got reviews challenging the historical accuracy of my setting, which is fair because I’ve been known to jump on writers who write about music while clearly knowing nothing about playing a musical instrument. Just desserts. I got reviews complaining that there wasn’t enough sexual content. I got reviews saying my heroine, Talia, was shallow. And that the romance had no depth.
However, for each negative review, I’m happy to report, I received two or three positive ones. Night Owl Reviews loved it and gave it five stars, and RT Book Reviews gave it four. Soon, I had a nice little collection of reviews from respectable sites to showcase on my website. Those positive reviews became like armor for my writer’s soul until recently, when the first two star I had seen in a while popped up, I was able to stop reading after the first paragraph and shrug it off. They’re kind of like publisher rejections, of which I’ve received my share, only this time—if I care to—I can discover why the reader is “rejecting” my work. Perhaps all those publisher rejections helped burnish my author armor as well.
All in all, reading my reviews was much as I expected. I learned some things from the negative reviews, which I am already keeping in mind as I write the next book in the series.
Note from Laura:
I adored The Sevenfold Spell! Tia's tale is just plain beautifully-written, naughty fun. Love the cover, love everything about it. And given that it's an e-book, it's available in seconds at a very sweet price. Readers--Whatever your tastes (okay, if you only read Cormac McCarthy and have no sense of humor, adventure or romance in your soul...then you're probably not here to read this, anyway!), you'll get a kick out of The Sevenfold Spell. I have to laugh, though, Tia, at the notion of historical inaccuracy in your story. It's a fairy tale! The wonderful thing about fairy tales is that they're magical. Wonder if that reviewer had problems with the fairies as well?
Link to Tia's website.
Reviews are so hard! Even when ppl really like your work, it creates sometimes an unmanageable pressure to continue writing at that pace/style. That being said, I love fairy tales, and should check Tia's story out! Thanks, Laura, for asking her to guest! :)
Oh, and yes, it is possible to get historical details wrong even in a fairy tale ... especially when you try to write about spinning when you've never spun thread in your life. Thanks so much for the mini-review as well!
Thanks for the interesting post Tia.
I hadn't thought of how strange it would be as a reviewer to have one's book being reviewed. I'm glad to know that RT has given it such a wonderful review!
Love & Best Wishes to you & yours,
Carmar, I'm facing that now with the second installment of Accidental Enchantments. The mood is quite different. Thanks and I hope you like it.
And thanks for following me over here, Rob!
When I got my first negative (scathing, really horrid) review of my first book, it threw me into a tizzy. Especially because the reviewer had actually gotten some of her facts wrong. I wanted to hunt her down and pull out her hair. Metaphorically, of course.
But thankfully, enough people told me that a)no one takes the really rotten reviews seriously and b)it comes with the territory -- and now I enjoy the good reviews and shrug at the occasional bad one. (Well, and drink. And eat chocolate.)
Every once in a while, though, there is a useful criticism that will make the next book better. Then I take notes.
And there is no point in complaining about too much sex in a book. If you don't like it, stop reading.
I usually just skip on over sex scenes that go on too long. That's why I tend to keep them short. I wouldn't want to describe every ... never mind.
That's horrible about the bad review, Deb. But I must admit that in retrospect, it was good for me to get that poor review over with sooner rather than later.
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