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BRING ON THE HONEST REVIEWS!
It’s always fun/nerve-wracking when you release a new book. Generally, my response to reviews is this:
Song of the Navigator’s process is a little different though because a) I did a blog tour and b) I wasn’t sure if people would put up with the violence. So I checked it a little more.
AND my editor pointed out that at one point it was 80th in the top 100 of gay romance on Amazon! Exciting for me, but that’s because I know the context (out of millions of books). Which is important, as shown by my conversation with my coworker:
Coworker: Why are you smiling?
Me: My book is in the top 6,000 on Kindle sales!
Coworker:…. Is that a good thing?
… Obviously context is everything.
But for the most part I don’t dwell on sales and reviews. It’s not a healthy habit. Mostly because I tend to agree with almost all bad reviews.
Reviewer: “This book felt rushed to me.”
Me: “You got that right, baby.”
Reviewer: “I got the feeling she didn’t really like this character.”
Me: “Totes accurate.”
Of course sometimes reviewers get it backwards.
Reviewer: “Unlike XXX, this book seemed like she didn’t put much effort in.”
Me: “Actually, the reverse. XXX took me a month, and this book took a year. Still, valid point.”
The thing about reviews and opinions about books, is that the only guarantee is that everyone will have a different opinion. I’ve read books that people raved about and gone “meh.” Books are like music – what turns you on is going to differ from what turns everyone else on.
For example, I love this band Interpol. But I’m hard-pressed to explain why I like them. In fact, I totally agree with people who find them boring. But there’s something about some of their songs that take me to a magical, melodramatic place in my mind. There’s an entire scene in Song of the Navigator that probably wouldn’t exist without the song The New by Interpol. Similarly, a whole scene in The Archer’s Heart was thanks to Muse’s Micro Cuts.
I’ve played my favorite songs for people and they’ve shrugged. Similarly, they’ll make me a CD of their favorites and I feel nothing. Clearly artistic taste is personal, which is why no author should get upset about bad reviews.
Of course, sometimes I want to explain myself to reviewers. “Um, actually, that is spelled that way because it’s the Tatar version of the name.” But I don’t because the golden rule as an author is to not respond to reviews, in my opinion. They exist for the benefit of other readers, not you. You no longer matter. You made the work, you released it into the world, and you gotta to let it go. Like a baby. Or a fart.
And besides, no critic can ever be as judgmental as myself. I end every book thinking “that is the worst piece of crap I’ve ever written.” Then flash forward a few months, and I can objectively look at it and say “yeah, okay, I like that scene.” But when I see a finished book, I am too aware of the flaws. I have books I’ve written that I’ll never look at again, let alone read the reviews for them.
Which is silly, of course, because one of the books I hate the most that I wrote is actually quite popular, so there’s no accounting for my bad taste.
Anyway, the point of all this rambling is that I love review sites that are honest in their opinions and really say what they feel about a work, either good or bad. As a reader of m/m romance, I rely on honest reviews. As a writer, I appreciate the honesty because a lot of times things are pointed out that I hadn’t even thought of.
Reviewer: “How come the missing grandfather was never mentioned again?”
Me: “Oh shit I forgot all about him! Touché!”
So bring on honest reviews, review sites, and thanks for all you do, as a writer and a reader.
And as a thank you for reading my rant, I’m hosting a giveaway! Comment below and you’ll be entered to win either a digital copy of The Devil Lancer or a Song of the Navigator magnet, perfect for holding up pictures of your current TV boyfriend on your fridge (mine’s got Captain America, in case you’re wondering)!