Book Review Paranoia

One of the questions I was asked on the virtual tour for my latest book, Sins of the Father, was how I felt about book reviews.

Here’s the question from Shades of Romance Magazine and my answer:

Okay, a not-so-fun question. How important are reviews to you as a writer?

I like good ones and bad ones make me feel down for a minute or two. I’ve gotten philosophical about it though. If everybody loves my book, it means that I didn’t have good distribution. I don’t expect everybody who reads my work to enjoy it. I don’t think that’s realistic.

I was honest with that answer but I didn’t say as much as I could have. I didn’t share the paranoia. I’ll share them here in Angela’s Review Rules. These rules come out of my review paranoia so they don’t have to be true and you don’t have to agree with them.

Rule 1. On a 5-point scale, there is no way a rating of “3” means the reader liked the book, regardless of what’s written in the text of the review. When I get a review of “3” of lower, I want to understand why. Since I’d never question a reader or a reviewer, I collect data and draw conclusions. If it’s an Amazon review, I look at other reviews posted by the reviewer for books similar to mine. You know what I’ve concluded: There’s no figuring out people’s preferences. They like what they like and don’t like what they don’t like. I’m the same way as a reader so I fully understand.

Rule 2. While ratings are important, the number of reviews is more important. If nothing else, a lot of reviews means a lot of people read the book. The bestselling books all have lots of reviews, with ratings in every category. I truly believe that in order to find the people who enjoy your work, you have to go through quite a few who don’t.

Rule 3. Never parse a review to change its meaning. For example, I got a “bad” review for my second book, For All Time, back in 1995. The reviewer for a local newspaper wrote something like, “A good story is hampered by stupid characters and weak writing.” Okay, it wasn’t that bad, but you get my drift. Anyway, I used that review and the newspaper’s name in my promo material. It came out as something like, “A good book. . .” Now that was wrong on my part since I totally distorted the review.

Those are Angela’s Review Rules. Do you have any?

One thought on “Book Review Paranoia

  1. This was so timely. I received my ARCs today and I’ve spent the evening querying reviewers and getting my mailing labels made. I am terrified of it all, but hey, it’s gonna be what’s it’s gonna be.

    I love the promo material. Too funny! That’ll fix ’em. Weak writing. Not so. I read the book. I loved it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *