Tag Archives: reviews

Roundtable Discussion: Reacting to Reviews, concluded

We conclude our discussion of how we react to reviews of our novels.

Joni Sensel

I’m always hoping for a review from the major professional journals (Kirkus, SLJ, Booklist, etc.) and read those with my breath held, reminding myself that any review from them is better than none. Because I generally respect those opinions, even if I don’t agree, I think about them. I’m not sure they’re all that helpful for future work, because most reviews I’ve seen focus on criticisms specific to a story, not to a writer’s work or skill in general. But you never know when a little seed in the subconscious might grow into better work.

As for most other reviews, I’d have to say that I used up my curiosity and authorly neediness on my first two books and now I tend to avoid them. If a blogger sends me a link, particularly if it’s someone I’ve crossed paths with online, I go ahead and look, because anyone who goes to the trouble to alert me is pretty professional. I can expect a sensible review with valid food for thought, and I can actually enjoy any positive comments because, again, I can respect the opinion. I have not found the same thing always true of random opinions that I merely stumble over, and I have absolutely no patience with or respect for those who can’t bother to get my name, the book title, or key character names correct. That’s why I’ve turned Google alerts off — that, and the fact that I also found that even one “but” in a blog review that included “I liked this a lot but…” ruined my evening and outweighed everything nice the reviewer might have said. (Jo’s comment that others see our reviews as more positive than we do is right.) And the few wacky rants I came across upset me too much.

So I admit, I’m both a review wimp and a review elitist. Of COURSE I love to hear when people like my work, and my very favorite thing is to see a post or have an e-mail conversation with someone about a thematic, symbolic, or craft element that nobody else has noticed or mentioned. But otherwise, I focus mostly on the pro reviews and those of a handful of the semi-pro bloggers we’ve all heard of.

Readers, what importance do you give to reviews when you are either reading or writing books?

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Roundtable Discussion: Reacting to Reviews, cont.

We continue our discussion of how we react to reviews of our novels.

P. J. Hoover

So far, I’ve read most of my reviews. I’m sure I’ve missed one here or there as I don’t actively seek them out. But when the Google Alerts hit me, I generally check.

The good reviews are great. I read them over and over and cherish every word. I even read things into them to increase the happy feelings they give me. As for bad reviews, there are two kinds I’ve run across. There are the bad reviews that actually look at something critically and analyze it. These type of reviews recognize that any book has merit, and these reviews point out the merits along with the aspects which could be improved. As an author, I know I have room to improve. If I didn’t think I had room to improve, there would be an issue. So a critical analysis of my work is fine. As for the bad reviews that do nothing but slander a book and spout how horrible it is and how the author shouldn’t even be writing, I ignore these. I might read them once, feel a bit bummed for an hour or so, but then I recognize the review for the unprofessional bunch of words it is and move on. I am even able to laugh at these.

I’ve been very fortunate in the review department, having received far more positive reviews than negative ones. But the negative ones (especially the really bad ones) do say one very good thing: there are people besides my mom and my friends reading my book. This means I’m done something right in the world of marketing. And this is a good thing.

K. A. Holt

I enjoy reading reviews because I’m really interested in how people perceive my book. I want to know if they really get what I was trying to say. Most of the time they do, sometimes they don’t, and other times it seems like the reviewer had some preconceived notions going into it. Great reviews can brighten your day, and bad reviews give you something to joke about. (At least hopefully you can joke about them – after you’re finished going “uuuugh” into the phone to your best friend.)

Really, though, the reviews I look forward to most are the ones from the kid readers themselves. It’s one thing to read what Publisher’s Weekly or Kirkus or a big name blogger has to say, but it’s quite another to hear directly from your target audience. Those are the reviews I really take to heart.

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Roundtable Discussion: Reacting to Reviews

This week we answer the question, How do you react to reviews of your writing?

Linda Joy Singleton

I have a Google alert for my book titles, so I usually know when I’ve had a review. I want to know what’s going on with my books.

Whenever I get a review, I hold my breath and read through with hope. Usually reviews make me smile. But when I get a negative review, I tell myself this is just one person and that everyone has different taste in books. Still…there have been a few times when reviews stung. When words hurt bad enough to make me cry, I give myself permission to wallow in misery for a day or two. Then I shake it off and get back to work on the next book.

Fortunately most reviews — more often from bloggers these days – — say wonderful things that make me feel great. The reviews I value most by reviewers who enjoyed reading my books as much as I enjoyed creating them. For instance, a review from SLJ for DEAD GIRL WALKING (2008) was a favorite because the reviewer contacted me after writing the review to say how much she enjoyed my book. That meant a lot to me, and I was very glad for the opportunity to thank her via email.

Jo Whittemore

I absolutely read all my reviews, and I weigh them both (though I probably shouldn’t) the same. The good ones I squeal over and post on Twitter, Facebook, my blog and my website. The bad ones are a little more complicated.

First, I must read the review no less than ten times to make sure I’ve remembered the crushing words by heart so I can use them against myself later when I’m having a pity party over some other book-related issue.
(Example: “I can’t believe my library won’t carry ‘Kittens in the Meat Grinder’! But then again, The New York Times did call it ‘A tragic tale.’”)

Second, I subject the words of the review to my own interpretation, followed by looking up any of the negative words in the dictionary, just to make sure there isn’t some other interpretation of “makes me want to end literacy”.

Third, I send the review to my critique partner, my mentor, my friends in the writing community and ask them what THEY all think. When they’re able to see the positive bits that I didn’t, I relax a little and pull the good snippets out for a blurb.

Note: I’ve never gotten these particular negative reviews. I’ve also never written a book called “Kittens in the Meat Grinder”. Hamsters work MUCH better.

Join us tomorrow when we continue this discussion…

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