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Reading Reviews of Our Novels

Our books are written and the release dates are quickly approaching, so we send our books to book bloggers. We post them on GoodReads review groups. We share them in Facebook groups and anywhere else we think we can find reviewers. Next comes the time for reading those first reviews. We need to take a deep breath. Let it out slowly, and relax. Now let’s look at those reviews, shall we?

    It’s our first five star review. Let’s celebrate. And enjoy it. But, let’s not let it go to our heads.

    A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit. #KJV

    Here we go. A couple of three star reviews. The reviewers liked our books, but they didn’t love them. They weren’t their favorite genres. They don’t like books written with a strong Christian theme. For whatever reason those particular reviewers didn’t enjoy our books as much as we’d hoped. We take another deep breath. And we resist the urge to ask them why they read science fiction when they only like romance, and we move on. It’s okay. They liked it. A three star review is not a bad thing. It means they enjoyed the book.

    Uh oh. It’s a two star review. Let’s not panic. We can get through this. Let’s read the whole thing. Oh. That’s weird… they didn’t hate it. They thought it was okay. Well, that wasn’t so bad. It hurts a little that they only thought we were worthy of two stars, but no, that’s not right. They aren’t rating us! They are rating a product. A novel. It doesn’t mean we aren’t worthwhile people. Someone can dislike our books without disliking us. Not everyone will like our books even if they’re the next Gone with the Wind or Left Behind. People are fickle. We all like different things and sometimes the same person can like or hate a book depending on their mood when they read it.

    A one star review. We can choose not to read it. That is an option. The only purpose in reading it is to find out if the problem was not really with the quality of the book. A shipping problem, for instance, or a technical issue with their e-reader. Then we have the option of letting the retailer know the problem is on their end. They may even remove the review. And sometimes, they aren’t much of an indictment after all. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, one reviewer of my non-fiction, Zebras of Hope, accused me of proselytizing. I’ll take that. If I set out with the purpose of sharing Christ and I accomplished that goal. Then I’ll wear the label.

    If after getting those first one and two star reviews, we can’t handle them, we can’t sleep, they make us sick to our stomachs, and leave us upset for days, we need to stop reading them. We do not need to read every review. We can have a friend check reviews for us periodically and tell us if there is a particularly good one. The one thing we don’t want to do is stop paying attention to the overall rating, the total star rating on GoodReads or Amazon. The total rating can mean something, as it is a compilation of what many readers thought about our books. That rating might help us to improve in the future or it might help us realize that our book is well liked and we should keep doing what we’re doing.

    Lastly, if our readers keep mentioning typos or grammar issues, we really should get an editor to look over our books. It will not hurt to have professional eyes on them to make sure it they are the best they can be.

    Let’s keep writing for the Lord’s glory and honor. He will get the book into the hands of the readers who need to hear the messages our books convey. We can keep pointing people in His direction.

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    Elle E. Kay shares her tips on handling reviews, both good and bad. 

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