Good morning readers, sorry I’m posting late. I’m pleased to have the talented author of Highlander’s Hope (a hit), Collette Cameron, here today. She’s going to share some truly valuable advice on book reviews (the very thing we authors all depend on to promote our stories).
What To Do With Book Reviews-A Non-violent Approach
I posted a blog a couple of months ago, “Dilemmas of a Debut Author” and in it, I mentioned I didn’t have any reviews for my novel yet. That changed when Highlander’s Hope released May 20, 2013. The book has over ninety reviews (between Amazon and Goodreads and yes, a few are duplicates, so be nice). I’ve been blessed so far and have only received one truly nasty review. Naturally, I was gracious and didn’t respond to the snipey, inaccurate, mean-spirited spoiler—oops, I’m ranting.
Big breath. Okay, please forgive me and disregard the former comment.
Actually, I only wrote that to make a point. The reviewer is entitled to her opinion. It’s a matter of taste. I mean, we don’t all like the same foods do we? Does that mean those foods are truly revolting? Well, yes if you’re talking about mushrooms or peas or beets, or tripe … but don’t we all have some things we can’t stand to eat and others we love? Mummy-in-law loves anchovies. Bleck. I adore eggnog. Hubby says double bleck. He likes beets though. Gross.
For heaven sake. Look how many kinds of burgers there are at Red Robin! And, you can have all of them customized to your personal preferences. I like red onions. Daughter hates them.
I think books are the same. I’ve read, or started to read (sometimes tossed across the room—hanging my head in shame here) many books, some of them New York Time’s best sellers, that the critics raved about. I loathed those books. Several undergraduate and graduate course requirements slither to mind.
I’ll hear someone going gaga about a series or a well-known author and I’ll think, “Eeww, seriously?” And, I’ve read amazing, fabulous, incredible (I like adjectives—deal with it) books that most of the world will never know about. Just because someone else says a book is fantastic or crappy doesn’t make it so. Each reader has to decide for his or herself.
Highlander’s Hope recently received a review (3.5 Night Owl Reviews) and the reviewer said there wasn’t explicit language used for sexual organs. She also claimed the book’s heat level was non-existent. I had another reviewer say it was “bone melting” and yet another say she only gave the book a 4-star because of the sexual content. I’ve had readers who said they wouldn’t read it at all because of the sex on the page.
Scratching my head here. How they know there’s sex on the page without reading it, I’m not sure. However, The Romance Reviews rated Highlander’s Hope 5-stars (reviewer said she wished she could rate it higher) and selected it as a top pick.
But I digress. Yes, I do that a lot. Rabbit trails, the hubby calls them. Oops, I’m at it again.
The subject of reviews is by no means new, but it’s been rearing its head quite frequently of late. Controversial discussions as to whether authors should be writing reviews for other authors have come up. Conversations on how honest should you be when writing a review, as well as what exactly constitutes a review, have tickled my ears in recent weeks. Well, my fingers then since most of the communication has been via social media. I just saw a Facebook post yesterday where I very talented writer was asking why a certain reviewer only ever ranked books 1-star.
It does make you wonder.
As an author, I have my own code for reviews. If I can’t give a book at least a rating of 3 stars then I don’t write a review. Naturally, the same goes if I don’t finish a book. I don’t need to tell the author why I didn’t finish the book, nor do I need to be a snarky negative Nancy and make sure I tell the author everything I disliked about their story or writing. What’s the purpose?
That’s not to say I may not mention something that might not have worked for me. For instance, a kindly worded comment about modern word usage or idioms in a historical wouldn’t be far-fetched for me.
So, here’s what I’ve learned in my short life as an author:
A range of reviews and rankings are more desirable than straight 5-star ratings.
Never respond to a negative review. Never. If it’s truly objectionable, contact the site and ask them to remove it. Be warned, however, sometimes they won’t.
Glean what you can from reviews to make you a stronger writer and ignore the rest. Okay, try to ignore the rest. I know it can be hard sometimes. I’ve found copious quantities of chocolate helps.
Reader reviews fall into roughly three categories:
Sweethearts: The reader loved the book and can’t praise it enough. Often (but not always) posted by family and friends. These are also written by readers who truly fell in love with the book and create a lovely fan base for the author. Rarely is anything negative said. (5-stars)
Ole Reliable: The reader truly liked the book and has many wonderful things to say about it and the author. They’ve written an honest review and may make remarks about an issue or two they had with the book, a character, plot, and so on. (Generally 4 stars, though sometimes a 3-star review)
The bully: That’s the reader who delights in the power they have to rip an author and/or their work apart and who posts spoilers just to ruin the book for others. (Usually 1-2 stars but sometimes a 3. I’ve seen really caustic reviews with 5 stars. That’s just plain malicious.)
So, do reviews really matter? Do they help authors? I heard the full spectrum from friends, acquaintances, family, coworkers, and other authors. Some of them swear they look at how many 4 & 5 star reviews a book has before reading it. Others say they ignore reviews all together and decide for themselves. I’m somewhere in the middle.
Gasp, say it isn’t so. An author who doesn’t live by their reviews? Hey, I know authors that never, and I do mean never, read their reviews. Personally, I believe the reviews for Highlander’s Hope have helped (except for that one) but other factors play an important role too. The book cover, blurb, inside flap, free chapters, excerpts, even the author bio can influence readers.
Regan Walker posted a brilliant blog about author reviews, and she’s pretty much an expert in my opinion. You can read the full blog here.
So, what do you think? Do you post reviews? Are you totally honest when you do? If you’re an author, do you take into consideration the hard work or feelings of the author whose book you are reviewing?
Great post Collette. You’ve managed to express what I’m sure most debut and seasoned authors both feel and need to know about the impacts of reviews. Thanks so much.
Now let’s explore the personal side of Ms. Cameron….
In February 2011, Collette decided to sit down and write a Regency suspense romance with a few Highlander’s thrown in to spice things up a bit. She wrote Highlander’s Hope, the first book in her Blue Rose Trilogy. She has a BS in Liberal Studies and a Master’s in Teaching. She’s been married for 30 years, has 3 amazing adult children, and 5 dachshunds. Her puppy, Ayva, sits on her lap while she writes. Ayva also nibbles at and lies on the keyboard. Collette loves a good joke, inspirational quotes, flowers, the beach, trivia, birds, shabby chic, and Cadbury Chocolate. You’ll always find dogs, birds, quirky—sometimes naughty—humor, and a dash of inspiration in her novels. Her motto for life? You can’t have too much chocolate, too many hugs, or too many flowers. She’s thinking about adding shoes to that list.
Ms. Cameron’s first release is Highlander’s Hope…
Regency propriety and Scot’s boldness clash in this historical suspense liberally dosed with humor.
She was the heiress determined to never marry.
Yvette Stapleton is wary of fortune hunting men and their false declarations of love. She’d rather become a spinster than imprisoned in the bonds of marriage. At first, she doesn’t recognize the dangerously handsome man who rescues her from assailants on London’s docks, but her reaction to Lord Sethwick’s kisses soon have her reconsidering her cynical views on matrimony.
He was the nobleman who vowed to make her his own.
Not a day has gone by that Ewan McTavish, Lord Sethwick and Laird of Craiglocky, hasn’t dreamed of the beauty he danced with two years ago; he’s determined to win her heart. On a mission to stop a War Office traitor, he unwittingly draws Yvette into deadly international intrigue. To protect her, he exploits Scottish Canon law to declare her his lawful wife—without benefit of a ceremony.
Yvette is furious upon discovering the irregular marriage is legally binding, though she never said, “I do.”
Cameron’s charismatic characters and fast-paced plot blend flawlessly for a hard-won happily ever after.
~Award winning Regency author Regina Jeffers
Let’s sample the magic…
Yvette stepped back as Ewan pushed his way into the room, leaving the door ajar. His hair was damp, no doubt from bathing, and the stubble darkening his face earlier was gone. Feet bare, wearing only buckskin breeches and a shirt unbuttoned to the waist, he resembled a pirate—a dangerous, rakish, sinfully handsome pirate.
She sucked in her breath. He oughtn’t to be here, but he’d said he wanted to talk to her, and he had promised to behave.
Yvette’s gaze traveled the path of silky hair from his chest until it disappeared into his waistband. Her stomach flip-flopped. Sweet Lord above. She pressed her hands to her frolicking middle. Why doesn’t he say something?
A distraction, that’s what she needed.
She escaped to the lumpy bed where she’d flung her clothing before bathing. She folded, then packed the garments into her valise and set it on the floor beside her trunk. Bending to retrieve her towel, she peeked sideways at him from the corner of her eye. He hasn’t moved an inch. What’s he about?
Grabbing the towel, she glanced down and froze. The candles to her left bathed her in a stream of light. She could clearly see the outline of her legs. Her nightwear was almost translucent in the candlelight and gave him a shadowy view of— dear God—nearly everything.
No wonder he hadn’t moved, the lout.
Standing upright, she held the towel before her and faced him. “Enjoying the view, your lordship?” she snapped.
Ewan lounged against the doorframe, watching her. A slow smile tilted the corners of his mouth. “Immeasurably.”
I love the cover Collette – it catches my eye. And I adore the book!
Where to find Collette and Highlander’s Hope…
Amazon Buy Link: http://amzn.com/B00CW1TTIO
Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/collettecameronauthor
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/collette.cameron.5
Highlander’s Hope Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/HighlandersHope
Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/collette-cameron
Soul Mate Publishing Author’s Blog: http://smpauthors.wordpress.com/
Amazon Author Central: http://amazon.com/author/collettecameron.com
Thanks for sharing some wisdom, and please visit us again.