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Monday, 2 April 2012

What I wish I had known about reviews before I got a bad one

M.C.V. Egan
I come from a huge family and married into another large one. I have (or would like to think I have) many friends. My book came out on June 9th 2011 and many of my friends and family read it.

I got beautiful cards and e-mails with ‘review-like’ comments. One or two actually posted them on my facebook page.  So I found that as an author I had the wrong kind of friends and relatives. Perhaps not the wrong kind, but not review friendly friends and relatives.

I had a publicist last summer and through that PR the book was requested for reviews, but that meant I had to sit, wait, hope, fear, wonder. What if my first review was a bad review? What if all my reviews were bad reviews? What if my friends and family were trying to spare my feelings? Should I start smoking again? Should I take up drinking? I opted for massive amounts of chocolate; I am still trying to lose the weight acquired during the waiting period!

A few months later the reviews began to come in, and I got really spoiled. They were all absolutely fantastic, one five-star after another including one from the much respected Midwest Book Review. 

I was flying high, this time eating chocolate to celebrate, and learning so much from what the reviewers/readers tapped into. Words like “unusual” and “unique” were followed by amazing praise about my great ability to intertwine fact and fiction. I could do no wrong and the five stars became the expected norm.

Then I got a three star.

But I surprised that I did not feel disappointed or offended. The review explained that the factual historical aspect in the book was in great detail and was more than the reader had bargained for.

I received a few three-stars after that, and then the great blow.

A very scathing one star review… no, I won’t tell you where it is posted, if you are curious enough you will search and find it. I cannot deny it hurt. I ate a box of chocolates; I believe I even cried. I try not to remember.

I posted it on book blogs and I was amazed at the feedback from other authors: you are so brave, sadly all the bad ones always hurt, not every book is for everyone and the wisest one of them all look: up the reviewers review history it might be someone who likes to give bad reviews.

Off I went in search of my reviewer’s history and my heart sunk a lovely list of good reviews. Five stars here and there, and then I saw another one-star review and I had to smile and open another bag of M & M’s grinning from ear to ear the other one star review was for Ulysses byJames Joyce. So, my book was not for everyone, no book is but I was certainly in fine company.

Of course I have absolutely no delusions of being in the fine gentleman’s category, but I do have an Irish last name, even if it is acquired by marriage and not by birthright.

I received a long e-mail from a lovely blogger and reviewer, one of those that gave me five stars, loved The Bridge of Deaths and even invited me back to her huge site for an author interview and giveaway. She pointed out how many greats had received bad reviews, her list did not include James Joyce, but I added him.

I have since received other five-star, four-star, three-star reviews. I can only hope I do not receive any more scathing or one-star reviews, they hurt, and they hurt a lot.

I am very humbled and honored by all my reviews. I have learned so much from each and every one.

I do need to know, however, if any of you know a good way to end a chocolate addiction.

The Bridge of Deaths is a historical paranormal, romance mystery! Something for everyone:

Follow Bill and Maggie in London 2010 as they explore the events of August 15th 1939. When at the brink of World War II, an English plane crashed and sunk in Danish waters. Five deaths were reported: two Standard Oil of New Jersey employees, a German Corporate Lawyer, an English member of Parliament, and a crew member for the airline. Bill and Maggie find a conceivable version of the events. 

Purchase Links:
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  1. oh they hurt, don't they? But we all get them...every single one of us. The good thing is you took it positively (re, her review of James Joyce LOL). To tell you the truth, I don't understand why people post a scathing review of a book that's been well received. What's the point? Of course my book isn't for everyone but, personally, if I don't like a book, don't finish one, or am disappointed by it, I don't write an awful review. I just put the book away and don't look at it again.

  2. Great article. I've only ever had positive feedback, even from agents - until I didn't! My current novel in process is my most adventurous, and I was worried that I couldn't pull it off. I have 4 test readers. The first one came back saying that it was confusing and she hated all the characters. The next one didn't 'get' it. All I could do was think the same as you, and as Susan, above, take on board the criticisms, and try to improve it. I think that getting bad feedback actually made it better - once I had stopped feeling really fed up, vowing I was going to bin the whole thing, and furiously smoking, of course!!