Sunday, January 29, 2012

An Eville Review and Why There Are No Evil Reviews

From the cover of EVILLE by Holand Peterson

EVILLE is a hoot of a read. I mean that literally, I hooted laughs several times while reading this spoofy fantasy adventure supernatural novel (think a more imaginative and fresh Young Frankenstein). Holand creates a wacky world of supernatural beings. When Mr. Average Guy and this world's funny and fun.

Granted this is a good review, but it easily illustrates why there are no evil or bad reviews. I enjoy oddball spoofs and takeoffs of genre fiction. But there are people who dislike or even despise that sort of thing. And are very vocal about it, sometimes on reviews. This is where the writer needs to put on a "reader" mindset. When looking for something to read and browsing the reviews as a reader, I experience a bad review differently. Many times, I'll read the one star reviews first. They are often good for a laugh. An example: a one star review for a novella, that gave it one star because it wasn't novel length and the reviewer didn't like novellas! Now, the novella was stated as such and priced accordingly, in fact was pretty cheap for an eBook of that length. Another review of an anthology of four novelettes gave one star because each novelette was written within the author's well known world. Again, it was clear from the cover that was what each novelette was. And that's what I enjoyed most about that anthology. So a bad review may generate a sale or several.

But what about a review that specifically attacks the writing? OUCH. Again, as a reader, I may discount the review if it's badly written. Even if well-written, I may like what the reviewer dislikes, "too complicated and convoluted a plot" for example. I don't believe there is such a thing. And I may want to read the book to see if I agree or disagree with the reviewer's review.

As a reader, the only review that turns me off a book is one that talks about bad or sloppy writing. Bad is weak characters, a poor plot, or little or missing conflict, and sloppy being too many grammar and spelling errors. And that's something we authors have control over.

Now, I know bad reviews drop your Amazon ranking and that's not good, and you may lose sales, and that's not good. But when you consider reviews as only a small and necessary part of a writing career, and that everyone gets bad reviews, it's not quite so painful. Remember the famous saying: "I don't care what they say about me, as long as they spell my name right" (readers, who said that first?).

Finally, bad reviews can also generate good ones. I've written more than one good review after reading a book and disagreeing with the bad reviews. So, try, try to relax a little, dear writer friends, about reviews!

Feedback? Review my post? Give it a bad review? A good review?


Anonymous said...

It's not only about credibility, but when I read, I get caught up in the mood the story sets. At this point, I have transitioned from just a reader to a participant in the plot. And then there it is, the misspelled word, the wrong verb or the misused or lack of punctuation. The spell is broken, and now, if I continue, I am just a reader with a critical eye. So, thank you Conda for pointing out the importance of using correct grammar and spelling.

Aubrie said...


I see you have a new release coming out! Let me know if you'd like to visit my blog on your release day!

Dee White said...

Great post, Conda, and so true:)

Conda Douglas said...

Joanna, yes, us editors call this "bumped out" when a grammer or spelling or punctuation mistake bumps the reader out of the story. NOT a good thing!

Conda Douglas said...

Aubrie, YES, please! I would love to visit your great blog on February 24th for my release of THE MALL FAIRIES: EXILE.

Conda Douglas said...

Thanks Dee! I see all the time where authors are completely freaked out by a "middling" review (3 stars). It's just part of the biz.

Kathy McIntosh said...

I had to look it up, but it was George M. Cohan who talked about spelling his name right. Any publicity is good publicity.
And I agree with you, Eville was a fun read.
But authors and actors (and probably those in many careers) hear the bad instead of the good, even when good overwhelms bad.

Conda Douglas said...

Kathy, thanks for looking that quote up. And you are so right, we all tend to hear only the bad. We need to learn to listen to the good too!

Anonymous said...

I think it's very important to have a "clean" manuscript: no misspellings, bad grammar, confusing sentences. I can overlook a few of these details, but too many get in my way of enjoying the story, even if it's a very good one. But it's true: there WILL be those "bad" reviews. I take comfort in the fact that even Stephen King gets them. And I agree that a bad review can generate a good one from another reader. Let's face it. We're all different, with different tastes. But I would never give a book a bad rating if I didn't like the subject matter or the genre. I judge books on the basis of the content and how well it's written. In other words, I try to be objective.

I agree that we DO need to relax. So I'm relaxing as I look at your smiling face.
Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

Carol Kilgore said...

I think we have to learn to accept those bad reviews but not dwell on them. I know that's much easier said than done.

Enid Wilson said...

I actually don't read reviews anymore. I try to concentrate on writing and creating.

The Spinster’s Vow