I am a reviewer. When a book comes to me to be reviewed, there are certain things that attracts me to a book or I simply want to slam it down. But every time I feel a negative emotion, regarding the book, I put it away and again pick it up, at a later date. Why? I try my best not to let my negativity, regarding the subject, rub on my reviews.
Everyone says Reviews have to be honest. What is honesty? I don't like your book. Your english is atrocious or your characters bore me? Oh yes, given a free book and using my free time has automatically made me a critique. Telling a writer to pack up- makes me feel very strong. Really? Is this why I took up reviewing. Can I not say the above line as,
"You story line could have been better. Editing would have done wonders to your book. Or your characters would have appealed to the readers a bit more if.... "
If you like something you tell a why and if not - they need to hear a why.
Taking you to the other side of the fence where Jyoti Arora, writer of Lemon Girl, tells us how Reviews affect her. Reviewers do read her, Writers do share your thoughts on this. For ultimately we are all walking in the same direction. Aren't we?
Over to Jyoti Arora.
“I’m confident of my book,” I told her with a smile.
That is true, but it still doesn’t really mean I’m not worried every time I receive a review of my book. My book is my dream. But for the reviewers, it is just a book. And they have the power and privilege to look at it with a magnifying glass of objectivity or through the prism created by their own experience, feelings, opinions and attitudes. Whether the book is reviewed objectively or subjectively, it all depends upon the reviewer. And I know that even a bad headache can fetch a bad review to a good book. And that is understandable. Reading is, after all, an experience. And every experience receives its colours and tones from the situation of the moment.
I know that well. And still I willingly send off my beloved book to be reviewed by strangers and critics. Why?
One, as I said, I’m confident of my book. I have firm belief that whoever reads it will like it. I think, every writer has that belief. My belief in my book has so far been vindicated as Lemon Girl is receiving amazing appreciation from all. And that gives me more confidence to send off the book to more reviewers and collect more praises for it.
Appreciative reviews on blog are of course a great way to spread word about a book. Reviews on blogs may not reach as many readers as on newspapers and magazines, but they reach dedicated followers of the blogs. And when a blogger says he or she liked a book, the followers of the blog are more likely to trust that word.
However, for a writer, it is very important to maintain a healthy attitude towards the reviews they get. One must guard at all times against sinking into the depths of despair because of a negative review or turning your nose up against all other writers because your book has got glorious reviews.
Here’s what I consider important towards dealing with reviews effectively:
1. Learn from them: In life, good experiences give you happiness and bad experiences give you lessons. Similarly, good reviews give you happiness and good publicity. Bad reviews may mean bad publicity, but they also mean good lessons. So learn from them. Pay attention to what the reviewers are saying and use that knowledge to improve your future works.
2. Ignore the best and the worst: I read somewhere that the best way to treat reviews of your work is to ignore the best and the worst. Yes, ignore the highest praises. That means, don’t let them bloat up your ego. Also ignore the worst criticism. Don’t let it pull you into despair and self-doubt. But learn from the average. Learn from the points being mentioned by more reviewers than one. That is where the lessons lie. If several reviewers are pointing to an excellence or a flaw, then it deserves to be looked into. It must be looked into.
3. Be grateful: When I say ignore, that does NOT mean you must not show your gratitude towards the reviewer who praised your work. By all means do that! After all, the reviewer spends days reading your work, and then some more time reviewing it. Even a reviewer who criticizes your work deserves thanks for at least completing it! So as far as possible, thank the reviewer for his or her efforts.
4. Be courteous: Reading maybe a leisure activity. But book reviewers and bloggers are busy people. Big and popular reviewers and bloggers are sure to get many review requests. But as their time is limited, they can’t accept every request. Also, not everyone likes reading every genre. So if a blogger refuses to review a book, accept it courteously. And even if the book is accepted for review, one must understand that it will have to wait its turn. And if the blogger is busy, it can take several months. A writer’s impatience for the publicity notwithstanding, one must control oneself from pestering the blogger for a quick review.
5. Accept what you get: And once you have a review, accept it. Good or bad, this is the reviewer’s opinion. It’s never a good idea to argue with a reviewer’s opinion. A bad review pains a lot. Still, arguments and angry outburst are not going to affect the reviewer. But it can tarnish the reputation of the author. A writer has the right to offer explanations for their works. But calmly, not with angry and bad words.
In short, when you send your book off for a review, be prepared for whatever you get. Accept it courteously and gratefully. And learn from it. Publicity is not the only benefit a writer can get from a book review. It is more valuable to derive lessons from them and use them to fine tune your writing.