Disclaimer

DISCLAIMER:

I do not read every book/author I spotlight or book tour I host!
Readers, Please research and use wisdom before buying

Thursday, October 15, 2015

#ThursdayThoughts: Do Reviews Help or Hurt?

Hi There!

Late posting today...had to bring my dad home from the hospital and take my daughter to the airport.

Last month I shared with you some wonderful reviews on Circles of Fate. In today's post you'll see a whole other side of reviews....

Recently, I received notification of a “review site” and as most authors, contacted the owner with great enthusiasm and hope of yet another opinion of my books.

After chatting a little I decided to send her my books, 7 full length novels, which ended up getting separated from the address label while en-route to her. Result: Lost in the mail.

Since I trust God with my writing, reviews and sales, this should have been a red flag right?

Instead I just thought “what a mess!” and sent her the E-version of my Tempered series.

In the end, “What a mess!” was an understatement.

Harshly disappointed, the reviewer stated her opinion of certain aspects of each title without giving credence to the overall story or growth of the characters; and even went so far as to critique me as person, questioning my position of faith rather than focusing on the stories themselves.

I was stunned to read each—and not because the reviews were less-than-stellar, but because of the manner in which the reviews each focused on one incident in each book and also pointed fingers at the author (me).

If you go to Amazon and look at all the reviews in this series, you will see a couple of one - and two - star opinions, but none appear to be as directed as this woman’s—and they are mixed among many positive reviews (each book averages four-stars or better).

Further research (which I should have done beforehand!) revealed that most of the books she regards highly (4 & 5 hearts) are erotica….yeah, that, too, should have been a huge red flag. Reading is subjective, and there are many genres—and that’s great—but Christian fiction and Erotica are on opposite ends of the fiction spectrum. A reader who likes one rarely likes the other, so I should have realized my books would not be a good fit for her reading enjoyment.

I imagine by now you’re wondering what I did about this review?

When she first sent it to me (before posting on her blog) I asked her to not put this up anywhere because her comments felt like a personal attack, which I also felt, was lack of a complete, objective review.

Since she refused and insisted on posting to her blog as scheduled, my comment to her was….. “Thank you for hosting me today. I'm sorry you were so harshly offended by the series. I appreciate the time and energy you put into this lovely feature. Good luck & God's blessings.”

Takeaway for Authors:

RESEARCH before asking for a review. If the owner/reviewer really likes something totally opposite of what you write, don’t expect a good review of your book.

UNDERSTAND: Reading is subjective. Not everyone will enjoy or even like your books. Sometimes something will strike a chord in the reader and they will react harshly.

ALWAYS: Be considerate of the reader/reviewer’s feelings and thankful for their time and energy.

PRAY that somehow God uses this to teach you (the writer) or touch them (readers) in a positive way. He does, after all, work subtly and oftentimes, behind the scenes.

Takeaway for Readers/Reviewers:

Writers are human: We have feelings. If you absolutely hate the book, please don’t review it. If you do, then please find something positive to say along with your objective assessment of what you didn’t like. In any case, please remember, it is not the place of a review to hammer down judgement and wrath.

Don’t judge an entire book on one aspect. This is often what happens, but as a reader if I don’t like a book and can’t give it a 3 star or better, I won’t review it at all. In fact if I was so harshly offended by book 1 in a series, I wouldn’t even attempt to read the rest. And, I certainly wouldn’t attack the author’s faith by the actions of his or her characters.


Remember, the characters we create are not real. They may represent real feelings, real actions, real flaws; but the characters are fictional—and they are rarely representative of the author. Think of it in the same vein as acting. An actor is not the character he or she portrays. Likewise, authors are not the characters we bring to life for your enjoyment.

Something to think about!

Until next time...take care, God Bless and Remember....When the going gets tough the tough get on their knees

"Inspirational with an Edge!" 

16 comments:

Susan Coryell said...

Reviews and reviewers--something all writers live by. Your advice is sound and I am sorry you were treated harshly. If I cannot give 3 stars or better, I tell the author why and ask if they still want me to post the review. They always say do not post. We have to be considerate of each other! Nice post.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Thoughtful comments, Pam. As a writer who has at times been hit by what I considered unfair negative reviews, I feel completely sympathetic. But the same novel that is criticized by one reader/reviewer will be praised by another. As you observe, reviews are subjective. I myself do not post negative reviews. Like you and Susan I believe if nothing positive can be said then I simply wouldn't review the book. But usually there is much good in books that are published.

Robin Bayne said...

Sorry you had that experience, we all seem to go through it sometime. Nothing worse than reading a review of your baby and the first thing you see is, 'I usually don't review this type of story because I hate them, but...." Ugh.

We all have to take it in stride. And remember to be kind and considerate when reading someone else's baby.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Yeah Susan, I think we put too much store in them. That said, I've had negative reviews before that didn't smack as a direct slur or attack on me/my faith.

I hear you, Jacqueline...there is always something positive to be said!

I agree Robin, being kind is the key word here....she wasn't at all. But that's OK! God's got it covered.

Thank you ALL for stopping by
Good luck and God's blessings to each of you.
PamT

Diane Garner said...

After reading about this incident, you have all my respect and the reviewer has none. Small consolation but the reviewer's readers were probably erotica readers and wouldn't have been into Christian fiction anyway, so maybe no harm done.

Kara said...

Thank you so much for this. I am very sorry you had to deal with someone like that. However, it does make me reflect on myself, and I can be very judgmental about books. I am such an avid reader that I sometimes think my opinion is "all important" and it's not. I hope I have never hurt a fellow writer with my words. Thank you for posting.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Thanks Diane for your support. I pray God works in her heart and those who commented without reading the books..alas we're called to practice grace, forgiveness and humility.

So glad the post made you think about your own reviews Kara...it's important that we do so which is why I put the Takeaway points for Authors and Reader/Reviewers.

Thanks for stopping by Ladies!
Good luck and God's Blessings to both of you!
PamT

Leah St. James said...

As a writer, I refuse to post a negative review because I know how much hard work it takes to get a story to market. As a reader though, I appreciate thoughtful reviews, regardless of the overall score. Sometimes what one person hates us something I like. :-) I'm sorry this reviewer personally atracked you. She should have told you your genre isn't her thing and declined to review.

Leah St. James said...

As a writer, I refuse to post a negative review because I know how much hard work it takes to get a story to market. As a reader though, I appreciate thoughtful reviews, regardless of the overall score. Sometimes what one person hates us something I like. :-) I'm sorry this reviewer personally atracked you. She should have told you your genre isn't her thing and declined to review.

Carol Hedges said...

I think the answer is: Do NOT ask for reviews. I don't. As you say, we all her a few one and two stars (those who don't usually have requested Amazon to remove them). I like mine - they are all crazy, from people who should've read the free sample and I'm always suspicious of people who only garner five star reviews anyway. Nobody is THAT good.
It is now possible to get 'fake' reviews to move you up the Amazon charts. Pay for reviews to do ditto. If, as you say, you rely on God to direct the path of your book, then why not stop trying to help him and just see what happens...you might be surprised!!

Susan Oleksiw said...

That sounds like a tough experience. I've had a few bad reviews that sounded very personal, but there's nothing I can do about it and I've tried to learn to let them go. Easy to say but some bad reviews rankle because the reviewer clearly didn't read the whole book or wanted something very different.

If I can't give a decent review, I won't review a book. I know how much work it takes to produce something worth reading, and I don't' want to discourage writers willing to do the work. Thank you for sharing this experience. It helps the rest of us to be reminded that everyone goes through this once in a while.

Susan Oleksiw said...

That sounds like a tough experience. I've had a few bad reviews that sounded very personal, but there's nothing I can do about it and I've tried to learn to let them go. Easy to say but some bad reviews rankle because the reviewer clearly didn't read the whole book or wanted something very different.

If I can't give a decent review, I won't review a book. I know how much work it takes to produce something worth reading, and I don't' want to discourage writers willing to do the work. Thank you for sharing this experience. It helps the rest of us to be reminded that everyone goes through this once in a while.

Carole Price said...

Nicely said, Pam. So sorry you had to go through that. If I can't say something nice about a book, I won't write a review. There's one review I wanted to have deleted, but decided not to. I felt I was getting back at her by letting the review remain on Goodreads. She gave it one star ("one of the worse books she'd ever read") while others had high praise and gave it five.

marilyn leach said...

Your blog today, Pam, is the fleshing out of God's promise that He can turn ashes to beauty. Thank you so much for letting us learn from your situation by being open and honest. I appreciate you. Cheers

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Normally I do rely totally on God, Carol H. Thanks for the reminder.

Thanks Susan and Carole, I'm the same way about not reviewing if I don't feel the book deserves at least a 3 star.

Thanks Marilyn!

Thank you all for stopping by.

Good luck and God's blessings to each of you.
PamT

Kim Headlee said...

I recently received a similar type of review for one of my books, unsolicited, on Amazon. The reviewer's position is that I "tricked" her into buying the book by =not= labeling it as "Xtian" fiction. (reviewer's spelling)

Thing is, I don't write Christian fiction. I write fiction with characters who experience spiritual journeys, usually with a Christian bias (in this case, the heroine converted from a paganism so primal that the term "Christ" wasn't even in her people's vocabulary; i.e., an ancient, remote culture). But the spiritual element is just one facet of my fiction and is in fact a subplot of the book in question. With a limited number of category tags that one can assign to one's books, the "Christian fiction" category is never at the top of my list.

The reviewer (while grudgingly admitting that the book was well written) went on to deliver a personal attack on my faith as the parting shot of the review. I didn't respond to the reviewer, of course, though the review hurt like you-know-where and the temptation to respond was as strong as it ever gets for me. I did ask Amazon to take down the review on the grounds that it contained a personal attack that was offensive to me, but of course that went nowhere.

If anyone is curious, the review in question is here. If after reading it you feel moved to ask Amazon to take down the review, thank you.

Either way, have a blessed weekend. :)
Kim Headlee
Stories make us greater.