Yes, we got our first bad review. Oh! The horror! THE HORROR!!!
I don’t have a tail. But I was thinking of arching my body and hissing and all but the entire routine died unexpectedly within two seconds – right after the reviewer confessed she never finished the book.
Okay, I said to myself, perhaps there was a good reason for her to not be able to carry on. Maybe she says something I can learn from.
So I read on and a second later, the review was over and I was left – uhm – not knowing how to feel. The best I can say is I was confused because I thought I should be sad or furious or devastated or depressed; after all it was my first negative review!! But I wasn’t. I wasn’t happy of course – considering it wasn’t a happy review. I read it again thinking maybe I’d missed her point and perhaps another reading could make me feel something. Some anger or remorse or the will to strive and be better at my craft or something but – the review never gave me enough info about my book for me to feel anything that might’ve helped my craft in the future.
I would’ve felt angry had she said Demon was awful. Rage would’ve crowned my brow if she didn’t like the world of Realm or if she didn’t agree with my tone of voice or the names I’d picked or thought that my characters were lame and unreal and the storyline was trite and the setting awkward and boring. I would’ve been irked and depressed had she picked on the poetry in the book for being insipid. I would’ve felt determined to write better if she’d pointed out exactly why the writing style was bad and such but she mentioned none of the these things or anything else for that matter. And how could she? She never finished the book!
For all I know she probably never went past the acknowledgements page. For all I know she probably copied and pasted the same review for a number of items ranging from books to shoes to muffins. Don’t believe me? Read this:
This bakery completely lost me almost immediately
Great decor but the icing style drove me completely nuts and I couldn't even eat this cake. Normally I can make it through in support of the baker but this bakery was just bizarre. Trust me when I say I eat a lot of badly baked goods because I support new bakers, but this cake was pretty horrible.
I’m sure the baker, had he existed, would’ve found such a review just as helpful as I, the new author, did.
And for every writer who gets a review as limited and unhelpful as the one that I got, you have the right to think what I did: the reviewer never got past the title page – or at most – the acknowledgements because if they had, they would’ve had something more substantial than ‘worst book ever!’ to back their opinion of the book with.
Real and serious readers never abandon a book midway no matter how bad and terribly written. They read merely for the honor and experience of reading. Likewise, real and serious reviewers never give vague reviews. Their words mean something to them and they make sure that they mean something to others, specifically to the author of the book, as well. They make sure their opinion is understood and they take the item in question piece by piece to justify their judgment of it.
Hence, if you’ve ever got a review like this, DISREGARD IT. It’s the tag of a troll who isn't there to help you but always there to distract you.
Aoife & Demon has been fortunate enough to receive many good reviews where the reviewers haven’t simply stated ‘Oh! Lovely book!’ in contrast to our darling Miss Two Stars' ‘this book was pretty horrible’. But our reviewers have taken the time to define exactly why they loved it so much.
I am not averse to critical reviews but I am averse to stupid ones. I encourage my readers to tell me where I went wrong with the craft. How can it be made better? But that takes time and effort and honesty and yes…to write a serious critical review, one has to be serious enough to finish reading the book first no matter how horribly it’s written :)