As the author of, The Violet Hour, my debut novel has been reviewed by many; which means, I’ve received “bad” reviews. It was bound to happen, my book is not for everyone, I’ve accepted it and moved on. What else can you do?
I put the word bad in quotes because I don’t entirely consider a 1 or 2-star review all that bad. Here’s why: as long as the review is constructive, offers some form of a well-thought-out opinion, critiques something in particular that just couldn’t be overlooked, or you have been bestowed upon you the divine right to make your review of anything, Gospel… well, then, I appreciate the time you took to not only read my book but also review it. I value your opinion. And, as the author, I will try to take-away something good from the bad news you delivered.
BUT. When you’re consistently negatively reviewing every book you pick up, you’re doing it wrong. Reading should be an enjoyable experience, to say the least. The gorgeous cover design, crisp pages, black ink, and new book smell, the ability to digitally highlight a line you need to remember with the touch of your finger, or take a book with you wherever you go. The escape, the relief, the therapy, the love, the sex, the hate, the death, the twists, of course those turns, the beginning, the middle, the climax and the end. And let’s not forget, the words. Every well-thought-out, creatively placed word. Books are designed to sweep you off your feet. For some, more than any lover in the physical form could ever do. And yet, you read and review a couple books a week and your average star-rating for said read books is 2.8-stars, I really don’t know what to say other than, you’re doing it wrong.
Can you be saved? Sure. I suggest two things.
One, back track to your absolute-all-time favorite novel. Use that to get recommendations. I highly recommend Goodreads; they haven’t failed me yet. Each time I go in there and positively review a book, my list of recommended reads becomes that much more defined. Find your favorite genres and sub-genres and sub-sub-genres, but also don’t be afraid to read outside of that comfort zone when you’re recommended a book.
Teach yourself to find the good in every piece of work you read. Yes, I realize, in the land of self-publishing, there’s a lot of not so pretty pieces of work out there. But, is in fact someone’s art nonetheless; there has to be something you can take away from it. I believe having a positive mindset and seeking to find the good in something will ultimately lead you to much happier experience.
Authors need reviews; it’s a crucial piece of the package. The agent, the publisher, the printer, the designer, the marketing, the tweets, the likes, the double taps, the shares, the sales and lastly, the reviews. We need those REVIEWS. Reviews spread the word. Yes, even constructively written negative reviews help spread the word. I never turned away from a book simply because it is poorly reviewed by others. If it aligns with my typical go-to reads, I consider it a challenge to try to find out either why it’s poorly reviewed or prove all those poor reviews wrong by falling in love with the book.
In conclusion, if you truly enjoy reading and love to follow up a read with a constructive good-or-not-so-good review, I admire and thank you. But if you are constantly unsatisfied with your book choices and consistently deem it necessary to let the author and everyone else around you know that you are forever lost in the land of 2-star books, well, then, you’re doing it wrong.