One Man’s Bad Review Is Another Man’s Treasure

Getting a bad review sucks. There’s really no other way to describe it. Even if we want to remain open minded and consider some constructive criticisms, it’s just not possible. Telling a writer that their work isn’t any good is like telling a mother that she has an ugly baby. Our work is personal, it’s a part of who we are and while we can certainly accept that it’s not perfect and that there’s always room for improvement, pointing it out to us should be done gently and with great care…if at all.

However, it does seem that the good old ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all’ rule is a thing of the past and bad (and sometimes downright nasty) reviews are littered all over the place these days from blogs, to goodreads to sites like Amazon, there is certainly no shortage of negative feedback out there. Somewhere a long the way, I started taking an interest in them. Hey, if they aren’t mine, they’re a whole lot easier to stomach…

At first it was a sort of morbid curiosity, but then the more I started reading them, the more I saw the value in finding out what types to complaints readers have. For instance, this one book ( I won’t name names here) had a sort of theme to it’s negative reviews. One of the major complaints was how frequently the same set of words were used through out the book. Seriously, at some point people had started using the word counter on their kindles and actually listed the number of times the words in question were used. Anyway, it made me think how easily that could happen. I mean, I know I have certain words that I use frequently, perhaps even over-use. I would think that’s pretty normal for most people and I don’t care when it’s just me, but if ‘writer-me’ starts doing it, well…clearly that would be a problem. So, now I’ve been far more conscientious about my vocabulary making sure I get the most use out what knowledge I possess in regard to the English language…and if all else fails, I use a thesaurus 🙂

On another occasion I found that a reader felt that the characters in their novel had been too one dimensional and practically interchangeable. I instantly panicked a little, wondering about my own characters. You see, in a way they all come from some place inside of me and it made me worry that perhaps they weren’t so much coming across as individuals but rather just one person, you know, me. Anyway, lesson learned and I can add one more thing to check for during the editing process.

I feel for the writers who had to endure the commentary I have found to be so helpful, but I also invite them to take a peek at some of the 1 star reviews their peers have received. It’s important to know what matters most to the readers. There’s often no big shock as to what it is they like and enjoy about a book, but you may be surprised to hear about the things that aren’t so well received and how easy it is to make those mistakes without even noticing…

So, in closing, a bad review isn’t necessarily a bad thing, provided it’s not your own…

~Karina

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