Why You Gotta be so Mean?

Um—thanks for the title, Taylor.

Some how Taylor Swift’s song “Mean” came to mind as I was poking around Goodreads one evening a few months back. While I don’t check out a lot of reviews, from time to time my curiousity gets the best of me. I want to know what others had to say about a book I really loved. I won’t mention any book title because it’s irrelevant. It could be any book for that matter. What doesn’t feel irrelevant was the one star ratings this amazing book received. I was totally shocked. But I’m a grown-up now with a book of my own, and another one on the way, so I have to suck it up and accept the fact that not everyone appreciated this particular book I happen to love. Fair enough. It’s a free country and thank goodness for that. What disappointed me, though, were some of the nasty reviews. Yes nasty! Mean and down right negative to the fullest degree. Is it possible to have a negative review that isn’t nasty? Of course it is. We’re all adults. Saying we didn’t care for something doesn’t have to sound nasty at all.

I liken it to zucchini. We grow a lot of them, and if you know anything at all about zucchini you know they grow like crazy. Zucchini-growers usually have zucchini coming out their wazoos. You even ask perfect strangers if they’d like to take some home because you’re so happy to share.

Now you either like zucchini or you hate it. It’s understandable. What I’ve noticed through my years of growing them is this: if you ask someone who has a 101 different recipes for zucchini in their drawer if they’d like some they’re tickled pink, couldn’t be happier. But ask someone who hasn’t any idea what to do with them and they get a little huffy under the collar. They make nasty comments. It’s never a simple, “no thank you.” Poor, poor misunderstood zucchini. You remind me of that book I love that received the nasty comments.

This has me asking the question, WHY? Why would someone take the time to write such nastiness? I guess I’m a Pollyanna in many ways. I like to look on the bright side of things. It doesn’t mean that I talk myself into liking something if I honestly don’t. I mean if you don’t like zucchini, I can’t persuade you otherwise. We like what we like. Period. We don’t like what we don’t like. Period.

I couldn’t understand why a few of the reviewers were so upset. Okay there’s nasty and then there’s just NASTY.  This felt NASTY, personal to the point where I had to wonder what it was about this book that triggered such hostility.

But I’m not a therapist, nor do I want to be. And yes, I’m a Pollyanna, and will probably remain so all my days. Negative does not have to be nasty. You can decline my zucchini without hostility. It’s okay, it’s just zucchini.

Do you ever check out the reviews of some of your favourite books? Have you ever stumbled across a NASTY review? Most importantly, does the thought of zucchini make you happy or hostile?

Surviving a Bad Review

So you’ve written a book, and you’re published. You’re on cloud nine dancing barefoot with the pixies. I mean, you should be, it’s a big accomplishment. Your book receives glowing reviews. Friends stop you on the street to tell you how amazing they think your book is. Some thank you for being the awesome writer you are. Everyone is happy, they’re up on that cloud with you bouncing around to “Oh happy day,” and it’s a glorious feeling. They love you… I mean your book. Those months of sweat and toil were worth it. You’re going to be all right.

 

But then the unthinkable happens. You’re googling your book one evening, stroking that ego a bit more, trying to uncover even more people who love you…I mean your book. You see your book mentioned and you click the link.  Bam! You’re hit with a hard blow to the ego. Someone you don’t know has written a review. They hate you…I mean your book. This can’t be. Surely they didn’t understand the deeper meanings, or appreciate all the intricate plot threads. They couldn’t have. Just look at that! While summarizing the book, they wrote the facts wrong. Were they even paying attention? What the heck, your main character was a boy, not a girl, they lived in the city, not the freaking country. I mean, how credible can this reviewer be? Did they skim over the most amazing parts? If only you had them here. Let them tell you to your face they don’t like you…I mean your book.

 

I don’t care who you, if you’ve written a book and sold any amount of copies, someone  out there is going to be less than enthusiastic about it. While having everyone rave about your book is absolutely divine,if you think everyone who reads it is going to love it you need to get in the real world. I know, I know, you already know that. And if you’re lucky those who don’t like it won’t rate it on Goodreads or write a review. While all that may sound good in theory it’s not all that practical unless you don’t venture out onto the Internet.  Eventually, a book you write is going to get a one or two star rating, or an unfavourable review. That’s when you’re faced with the reality of it all, it’s right before your eyes. No denying it. Someone doesn’t like you…I mean your book. Worst of all they told the whole world.

 

So how’s an author to get past a bad rating or review, you might ask? Here are a few suggestions I have.

 

 

  1. Accept the fact that this is bound to happen. I’m not talking about accepting it on an intellectual level, but accept it in your heart. Hoping and wishing everyone will love your book won’t change the facts. People have different tastes. You do. Why wouldn’t someone else?
  2. Learn not to take these things personally. The person rating your book probably doesn’t know you from Adam. They’ve got nothing vested in you. You’re a name. That’s it. Remember, they aren’t saying they don’t like you. They’re saying they don’t like what you’ve written. There is a difference.
  3. Spend time on Goodreads. Check out your favourite authors. Read the reviews of books you absolutely love. What you’ll find is your favourite authors all wrote books that someone didn’t like. You might think these reviewers are nuts, but it doesn’t change the facts…or the rating.
  4. Be the first to write a bad review for your book. Don’t let someone else beat you to it. Print it out and post it where you can see it during the early days of publication. This will help absorb the shock when the real thing comes along. Remember not to be too nasty or obnoxious.
  5. Weigh the good reviews with the bad. Which one outweighs the other? If you receive 100 poor reviews or ratings and only three good ones (all from close friends) maybe this is telling you something. Otherwise, blow it off. One bad review, or two or three isn’t the end of the world.

 

Hopefully, these suggestions will help cushion the blow of that first bad review. I say, take comfort in knowing that you’re in good company.

 

Has a bad review ever set you in a tailspin? How did you deal with it? If you’re on Goodreads have you ever given a bad rating or review? If so, did you give any thought as to whether the author would read your review or see the rating?

 

 

Are You a Book Cheater?

Many people openly admit to being unfaithful to the book they’re reading. They even admit to being involved with, not just two but, multiple books at the same time.

With so many great books out there it’s sometimes difficult to settled down with just one book. Tough to resist, I know. Right now, I’ve got three books pulling on my shirtsleeve, flashing me with their pretty covers. Worse yet they sit there winking whenever I walk past. Flirts!

I’ll admit it’s a big temptation, and sometimes I’m weak and pathetic. I catch myself taking sneak glances at them, even arranging them about on the coffee table just so. But I’ve vowed to be a faithful reader. I’m not about to cheat.  I’m a one-book woman.

So what? It’s a free county, right? We’re free to read one, two, three even four books, heck we can court an entire library shelf if we want. Who’s to stop us?

Exactly.

I’m not going to get into any big moral issues here ‘cause I ain’t your mama. Nor am I here to judge. What I am is curious about the experience of being a book cheater. We can call it research if you want.

So for the sake of research I’ll pose this question. Do you believe it’s possible to love a book, follow the plot and characters when we are not faithful to the book we’re reading? Will we confuse the Bob in one book with the Harry in another? Will we remember that Meg likes coloured stones, hates cottage cheese and is the third child in a family of circus performers who have been travelling about the country since being placed in a witness protection program? Can we fully appreciate a book, and its characters, when we have multiple books on the brain?

I’ve known people who admit they just weren’t that “into” a particular book. Fair enough, every book isn’t for me, and I certainly don’t fall in love with each and every book I read. However, having said that, I do question their ability to judge a book fairly once they admit that they were reading several others at the same time. Instead of a read that should have taken a few days at most, it ended up stretching out for weeks as it was picked up, abandoned for another, and then another, not to mention the two week vacation they took over the Christmas holidays where they refused to read anything more taxing than the noontime special at their favourite restaurant before finally, finally running back begging for a second chance.

For me, a book has always been an experience, a whole little world nestled between the covers, a place for me to submerge myself, a place that will either end up being a good experience or a not so good one. Seems to me that the more books I  choose to become involved with, the more difficult it would be not to whisper Brian’s name when I’m reading about Fred. Talk about embarrassing.

Another thing I can’t imagine is how anyone can rate a book or writing a review if they are attracted to another, or three, at the same time.

 It’s not uncommon to see people listing multiple books as *currently reading* on Goodreads, but is it fair to any book if you show interest in another? Now I’m not attempting to try and tell anyone how to run their reading lives. I’m just curious about how the other half of the book-reading public live.

Confession time:

Are you a book cheater? Do you often romance more than one book at a time? Do you think you can fully appreciate or not appreciate a book when reading multiple books at one time?

Goodreads or not Goodreads?

So I’ve been looking around on the Goodreads site lately, and finding it quite interesting. Apparently, I had signed up for an author page about a year and a half ago but that was as far as it went. What did I know?

I’ve since added a little info about myself and a profile picture and will keep working at it over the next little while. I know, I’m slow, but I sometimes have to be eased into these things. It’s all pretty new to me and I’m still figuring it all out.

I began adding the books I’ve read in 2012 but not planning, at this point, to list the books I’ve read in the past. I’d never remember them all. I also haven’t been rating the books I’ve read and haven’t yet decided if I will. This is part of the reason why I resisted this for so long. The thought of rating books, especially from the authors I know, feels a bit weird. I also have to admit to not fully understanding the rating system or if we simply come up with our own. My reading tastes are varied to say the least. How would one use the same rating system for a non-fiction book as a work of fiction? I’m sure most people who rate books have a system that works well for them.  Maybe I’ll discover something that feels right over time.

Now, I’m not going to say that I’ll never rate any books or write any reviews because I have learned over the years that “never” is a finite word, and nothing in life seems finite least of all our opinions and tastes. Perhaps I will one day rate a book or write a review if I read a book that simply blows me away. Honestly, that doesn’t happen often. On the other end of the scale, I rarely find books that I despise. I’m an easy reader to please. So long as I’m reading something I’m content.

 As I looked at some of the book ratings I found it interesting to see that some popular books might garner one or two stars from various people yet others gave that same book five, the top amount. Now I know that we all have specific tastes in books. I get that. Still, it makes me wonder how there can be such a wide variation. I also found the reviews interesting and people’s reasons for the rating they gave a particular book especially if the book was given only one or two stars. Some reasons seemed quite insignificant so I’m feeling that there must have been other factors at play, maybe a simply “I just didn’t like this book,” but then the reader feels an obligation to give their reasons for such a low rating. Hey, who knows what goes through a reader’s mind? I’ve always been of the opinion that if I really like a book, I’m willing to overlook a few little things along the way. If I’m looking to be picky, I can usually find something. I’m sure most readers are the same. Which brings me to the question: are there any perfect books out there? I suppose that, again, depends upon the reader.

Are you a Goodreads member? Do you find it difficult to rate books? Are you influenced  at all if you know a particular author? What rating system do you use? Have you even given a book a two or even a one star rating?

Dead Witness

“I think you’ll like it. Well, I know you’ll like it…. You just want to keep reading to see what’s going to happen next.”

This is what my mother had to say about Dead Witness a suspense thriller written by blogger friend, Joylene Butler. What you need to know about my mom is that when she’s knee-deep into a book that she’s really enjoying, #1 I don’t hear from her so often #2 She finds it difficult not to talk about the book and blow the whole ending. After Mum gave Dead Witness her seal of approval it was my turn to tackle it. I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed with Mum’s review. She hit the nail right on the head. So Mum’s review of Joylene’s book gets two thumbs up from me. Great job Mum. You really know a good book when you read it. You also did well to not blow the ending for me even though I caught you a few times in mid-sentence about to spill the beans. I wouldn’t blame you if you had, some reads are hard to keep to yourself and we have Joylene to blame for that.

Joylene’s book can be purchased through Chapters.ca and Amazon.com

What’s The Book About?

Valerie McCormick is a wife and mother from small town Canada. While visiting Seattle, she becomes the only witness to the brutal seaside murder of two FBI agents. When she flees to the nearest police station to report the crime, she becomes caught up in a web of international intrigue and danger. Suddenly, she and her family are in the sights of ruthless criminals bent on preventing her from testifying against the murderer. Even with FBI protection, Valerie is not safe. Whisked away from her family and all that is familiar to her, Valerie fights back against the well intentioned FBI to ultimately take control over her life with every ounce of fury a mother can possess.

Good news for Dead Witness: Joylene just announced yesterday on her blog that MuseItUp Publishing has just purchased the e-publishing rights to Dead Witness And as if this isn’t enough, Joylene’s next novel, Broken But Not Dead is to be released this summer. Check out Joylene’s site for details. Way to go, Joylene! Congrats! You deserve it.

A First Review

A quick stop into the local book store this evening was quite an emotional thing for me. I had heard from a friend that my book was mentioned in Atlantic Books Today— a free publication which reviews some of the books published in Atlantic Canada. She mentioned that there was a review there but I figured since the book isn’t out yet that it was just a blurb about it— but she was right. There it was, someone writing about my book, someone who had already read it. You see there’s this thing called advanced reading copies that get sent out to various sales reps and reviewers before the book even comes out. (I really have a lot to learn about all this.) This good news is the review was a good one!!! I was on cloud nine. Sure is great to have someone say something nice about something you’ve written, I mean someone who doesn’t know you. (If you know what I mean.)

My husband and I stood in the bookstore both reading the review, wondering if we should snap up all the free copies for family members. But I guess that would kind of defeat the purpose of having it out there in the first place if I took all the copies home… I did take two, however…the ones we were reading. Atlantic Books Today even mentions that the launch is at the East Dalhousie Community Centre on Oct 25th , which seemed really neat, too. It almost feels as though this book is not just mine but the community’s as well.

I am constantly amazed at this whole process. All I can say is Wow!!

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Follow Laura Best on WordPress.com
  • Publication date April 30, 2020. Available for pre-order NOW.

  • Laura Best

  • Blog Stats

    • 83,718 hits