Consider Reviews Wisely

Picking a good book to read or settling on a resort for vacation can be daunting tasks.  Some readers rely solely on reviews to guide their decisions.  Likewise, vacationers use word of mouth to guide them in spending their hard-earned cash.

Our resort had a run of scathing reviews. My favorite came from a gal who had never been to our resort, yet bashed it ruthlessly on several sites.  Kind of reminds me of those peeps screaming loudly from the top of the book bashing bandwagon even though they’ve never seen a copy of the book, let alone read the first page of it.

Other reviews obviously came from the pampered and pretentious with nothing better to do than bitch about how their air conditioner was down for four hours, or how the entertainment department failed to fill their every waking moments.  I guess these people didn’t realize they’d come to a resort renowned for its beach (ranked in National Geographic’s top ten).  Sun screen and swimsuit, anyone?

Sounds eerily similar to the reviews a writer of steamy romance gets.  “OMG, there’s sex in this book!  How horrible.”  What did they expect after seeing the sultry woman on the cover?  A child’s bedtime story?

Another joyous handful complained about how lousy the natives were at speaking English.  Really?  Why travel to foreign countries where everyone is homogenized into your own native culture?  And how well would the complainers speak the language of visiting citizens from the other 190 some countries of the world?

Uhm, some things are bigger than you.  Just sayin’.  And just because a book doesn’t speak to one person, doesn’t mean it’s bad.  It simply means it wasn’t the right book for them.  You, on the other hand, might find a treasured favorite between the covers.

So, I have one piece of advice regarding reviews: consider the source wisely.

Readers are as varied as vacationers.  Likes and dislikes can meld or clash with our own.  Taking a review at face value without considering the person behind it can be a bit like trusting the school bully when he tells you to drink from his milk carton.

And for the record, our vacation was marvelous.  The natives were charming and helpful despite our lousy grasp of their language, while the relaxing beaches fulfilled our entertainment needs.  Sometimes it’s good to experience for yourself before you let others decide for you.

Have you ever loved a book others hated?  Or disliked one that your friends gush about?  How do you handle reviewing books for others, whether on your blog, in a forum or via word of mouth?  How do you keep your reviews balanced and sane?  How do you keep yourself sane after reading a seemingly unjust review of your work?

Curious minds want to know.

6 responses to “Consider Reviews Wisely

  1. Great post!! As an author, it’s hard to get bad reviews, especially because unlike getting rejected by an agent or publisher, reviews don’t fade– they’re there for everyone to see over and over again. This can be especially hard if you feel like the review is way off base, especially since, as the author, your hands are tied. I try my best to take it all with a grain of salt, and concentrate on the positive reviews. Not everyone that picks up my stories will get from it what I intended or see things the way I meant them to be seen. But some will, and THOSE are my readers. I’ll continue to write my stories for them– and for me.

    • Great attitude, Cali. I’ve not yet had to deal with reviews one way or another and I can only hope that when I do, I procede with as much grace as you have.

      While I pay attention to word of mouth for recommended reading, I rarely set aside a book because of a bad review. If it’s on my radar, I like to make my own choices based on cover, cover blurbs and first pages.

      hugs and best luck as you keep writing–for you and me!

  2. My all time favorite book in the world is one a close friend of mine can’t stand. LOL You can’t please all the people all the time. I try to look for elements in a story that speak to me, which is why I do appreciate a synopsis of the tale in the review. Aside from that, I want to know what moved the reviewer and if there was anything in the book that knocked them out of the story.
    As far as reviewing for others goes, I’ve requested some things that I realized afterwards that I could not review on my website. Not that this would be a huge blow to anyone – my blog is nichey. But it would bother me because I’ve promised to only review those books I truly enjoyed. If someone else reviews it for me, I make darn sure they honestly enjoyed the book and I give them the byline for the review because their thoughts cannot be my thoughts (thought I certainly might agree with them). But I’ve found reviewing is filled with downer moments. Like raving about a book and the author never thanks you for it, though they are well aware of what you’ve attempted to do. Things to remember when I’m on the other side of the wall, I guess.

    • Great points, Victoria.

      Like you, I will only review books that I really liked. I have no interest in hurting another writer or dissuading someone from reading a book they might enjoy even if I didn’t. I love your integrity in the process and hope it pays off for you *when* you get your writing out there.


  3. As a reader, I don’t read reviews to choose what to read next – I’m grabbed by the cover and blurb. Not even the sample! 😉
    As an author, yeah, I read the reviews I get (well, on Smashwords becuase I get the email notification – everywhere else only if I really fall over them! ;-)), but don’t reply to them, neither to thank nor to bash the reviewer.
    As a reviewer, I don’t review anything to which I’d give less than 3 stars – especially if it’s an indie author. And I’m more lenient towards indies, while I might easily take out a star for “bad editing” from someone’s book that came out with a publisher (big or small, doesn’t matter, they should have done the editing better)…

    • Very nice perspective, Barb. YOur method of reviewing sounds divine and immensely fair.

      I haven’t been in the position to read reviews of my work yet, so can only imagine how difficult it must be to hold thy tongue.

      Hope things continue to go well for you.


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