It has been another week of coincidences for me. Whilst I had two wonderful reviews on Susi Holliday’s and Dionne Lister’s blogs (can’t thank them enough), I also got the first negative feedback on my book.
I noticed the review (on Goodreads) quite by accident. It wasn’t actually bad, finishing up with, ‘A good murder mystery’, and gave me 3 stars. It didn’t bother me (well, OK, it stung a bit!), and I put my business head on to see where the criticism was and if there was anything I could improve on, or address, in the sequel. It said, “A little slow to start, but picks up eventually…” Hmmm. I took a further look at what other readers have said: “…page turner from the very first page…”, “…hooked from the first line…”
I sat back and considered this for a while. I’ll admit, I’d never even reviewed a book myself until I joined the social media networks recently. And, as a debut author, this is my first criticism. I naively thought less favourable remarks might act like a writing critique group, giving you constructive criticism that you can take forward into future prose. But this clearly isn’t the case. They are merely someone’s individual opinion. So, back to the old adage: some will like it, others won’t, and, unless there is a similar thread running through, perhaps it’s not worth getting entangled into the reasons why.
The other coincidence I experienced was a guy on Twitter saying, “You haven’t got many reviews!” If he’d been standing in front of me I’d have gasped, stood back and blinked at him. In truth, I didn’t know how many I had, so I went and counted. With 10 on Amazon UK and 8 on Amazon Com (and all wonderful – thank you so much to those who took the time to write them), I thought that was pretty good. The book has only been out a short time, after all. Yet clearly the number of reviews you have matters too?
My experience made me think back to an autobiography I read recently by English comedian, Frank Skinner, where he said that he never reads any of his reviews, the good or the bad. I presume he relies on audience feedback during the performance. I’ll admit that I hadn’t even seen some of mine. I’m certainly not ungrateful, but unless you check religiously, I guess that does happen.
I consider myself fortunate to have received so many notes through Twitter, Face Book etc. from people who have enjoyed the book. Every time I hear a positive comment, I thank the reader and it literally makes my day that somebody has enjoyed my work and taken the time to let me know. I wrote a book that I would like to read myself and if a few people enjoy it, then I’ve done my job. But whilst I might consider asking some of my writerly friends to pen some words, I certainly wouldn’t be comfortable asking other readers to leave a proper review.
So, why are we so caught up with them? I realise that they help readers, as an indication of whether or not people are enjoying your book, but they are also completely subjective. I also see that, as Indie authors, we need all the help we can get in the marketing department. But are they as important as my recent experiences indicate? Surely, a small number of good reviews are sufficient? I welcome your thoughts.
Jane Isaac’s first novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, is out on Amazon.com, Amazon.uk and Kindle worldwide now. Jane is still very much a Newbie and with a day job, a family and a very demanding black Labrador, she squeezes her writing into every spare moment she gets. You can catch up with her at www.janeisaac.co.uk