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All right. Let’s talk about reviews.
Specifically, bad reviews.
Good reviews are a piece of cake. Starred ones leave you, well, starry-eyed. A good review, especially a starred one, gives the author validation that his/her book is worth reading. Actually, even better - worth buying!
But bad ones? They hurt. There is just no way around it, unfortunately. As a book release approaches, an author is trying to figure out ways to get the word out. Marketing is probably occupying the brain about 75% of the time two months before a release. The hope, I think, is that some reviews will come in that get people talking. Because that’s what you want, right? A buzz. A buzz that it is so persistent, people just can’t ignore it and so they go to the bookstore and buy the book.
THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins is a book that had so much buzz around it I just HAD to go and get the book. And I wasn’t disappointed, believe me.
But how often does a buzz like that really happen? It seems to me, not very often. So is it realistic for us to think that any review might even come close to doing this for us? Probably not.
So what if a review comes in for your book, and it’s not what you were hoping for? In fact, it’s quite the opposite of what you were hoping for. Is it the end for your book? Like, is it over before it even began?
No. Not at all. First I think you have to ask the question, who is going to read the review journal? In the kidlit world, it’s primarily librarians and teachers. Most or all of the reviews will also end up on Amazon and B&N, but I wonder, in the end, how important those reviews are to regular readers? I think readers often put more weight into what other readers have to say versus professional publications, but that’s just a guess on my part.
Negative reviews remind me a lot of a harsh critique. At first, it stings. At first, you want to argue with everything negative being said. But eventually, after some time has passed, your brain begins to ponder the comments, and you might even begin to think, yeah, maybe that is something I need to work on.
One of my reviews for I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME talked about how, beyond Ava, my characters were only “shallowly realized.” I can tell you that those words stuck with me, and as I wrote my next book, I found myself paying more attention to the character development.
As they say, that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?
~Lisa, Miss Pinch Me I’m Pubbed