Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Does this review make me look fat?

Before I started writing and actually getting paid for it, I’d never heard of book reviews. Sure, I’d seen a couple of book critics share their opinion of a book in some newspaper or other. But it was always books I wouldn’t ever read. The Great Boring Classics, or whatever they are. A fantasy novel review? Science fiction? Romance? Horror? Nowhere to be seen. So I’ve always looked at book critics as “meh”.

After my first book went on sale, I discovered this whole online world of romance reviews. A fresh thing (to me) that smelled of new car and plastic! Ooooh, le shiny. It wasn’t long that I discovered the power these reviews had over authors. Some of them (the writers, not the reviews) would go to great lengths to make sure they had positive reviews to show. Sure, I want five stars too. I want people to pat me on the back and say, damn, that was a good book, yo. But if they don’t, that’s okay. There’s still something valuable in a one-star review. I’m not trying to pontificate and convince people to love everyone. I don’t love everyone. Ask me about bullies and I’ll be happy to share my impolite opinion of them. But having a book out there, taking a story from one's imagination and sending it out there in the world implicitly means that one wants to share it. That author wants others to read it. Otherwise, he or she would just write and never send the manuscripts to editors.

To me, reviews are like asking your guy if this outfit makes you look fat. Come on. That’s a loaded question, isn’t it? If he says, “you’re hot” and looks as if he means it, that’s full of win and woohoo. But what if he says, “doesn’t work for me”, or worse, “meh”. What then? You *did* ask for his opinion. Doesn’t that mean you’re ready for the potential of receiving something else than positive feedback? Just like I wouldn’t want to be in a guy’s shoes when his gal asks him if this outfit makes her look fat, I wouldn’t review books if someone paid me. As reviewers, you get some books for free, sometimes, but I sure as hell wouldn’t want to deal with the emotional responses my review would (or not) trigger.

After all, it’s just one person’s opinion. To get worked up over it (and I mean really worked UP) is immature and, in the end, self-defeating. That's my opinion. And if someone disagrees with it, that's all right, I'll live.


N.J.Walters said...

While great reviews are wonderful, it's inevitable that a writer will get bad ones.

You can't invest too much of your worth as a writer in reviews. It's one person's opinion of your work.

What you have to remember when you get a bad one is that an editor and a company actually contracted the book in anticipation of it making money for them. If they didn't think it was good, they wouldn't have done that.

Sally Painter said...

Sally Painter said...
I want to be NJ when I grow up! Smooches! You are so brililant and I agree 100%.

And, I've seen a few get very jealous of an author who receives accolades. Seriously. I had an author tell me she's lost friends due to her success. Gasp! Guess just because they wrote a book doesn't mean they matured beyond their HS mentality! Sad.

On to the next book! I can't wait!