I imagine I’m not so different than many authors who occasionally check the reviews of my books. Of course, I hope for positive, glowing reviews that not only give me warm fuzzy feelings but also inspire others to purchase my books. Of course, not everyone who reads any of my books will like every one of those books. That’s realistic and, frankly, where I find the most useful feedback–in those sour lemons.
Russian Gold received a particularly negative review, honesty soaked in venom. However well-marinated in vitriol, those very good points that reader identified showed where I failed the story. I responded, hoping to initiate a civil conversation and, perhaps, persuade that reader to consider reading other books. I hope that she’ll give me, as an author, another chance.
In my response, I addressed the reader’s main points. She replied and countered with a couple other observations that were spot-on–things that I and my other beta readers should have noticed and didn’t. I asked that reader if she were interested in serving as a beta reader, because critical feedback always helps.
Addressing those issues before publishing the book would have made it a stronger book. That doesn’t mean I would alter the character(s) and their action; however, it does mean that characters and their actions would make more sense. In short, there would be more explanation, more background, and more reason for those actions.
But the book’s out and I’m not likely to change it now. I did, however, revise the cover blurb (book description). I hope that will provide some direction.
If this reader agrees to serve as a beta reader, I neither expect nor want her to be my cheerleader. I do expect and want her to remain critical. Honest, critical feedback helps greatly, although I could do without the hostility. I am hoping she’ll accept and bring that critical eye to future books, pointing out plot holes and other aspects that I miss if only because I’m too close to the story.
On a positive note, the very harshness of the review tells me that, although the reader hated the story, she didn’t hate the writing. She did not condemn the quality of the writing, which I actually find encouraging. That means I’m on the right track as far as mastering the craft.
Have a sip of lemonade, folks.