Negative Reviews are Good for the Soul or Something

When my first novel, Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort received its first truly negative review on Amazon I must admit my feelings were hurt. Prior to that scathing piece of commentary most of the reviews had been stellar. I’d been in a bubble of positivity and it burst. Ouch.

After more than a year since its publication, the book has continued to receive mostly four and five star reviews. They make me smile, especially when they are from folks I don’t know personally. I’ve hopefully learned to read the constructive types of negative reviews as a way to make my writing better.

But the book received a doozy of a negative review a few days ago. Here, I’ll share it with you. That either makes me brave or stupid. Talk amongst yourselves.

Okay, lady (or gentleman) reviewer, tell us what you really think. 😳

If you’ve read Mayhem you might think, “Did this reviewer actually read the book?” I wondered that myself. I won’t refute everything she/he commented on, but nowhere in the book did I bash fishermen, and I never said lesbians get a bad deal in life (do they? My lesbian friends don’t seem to), and if the book in some way intimated that all men are bad, I certainly couldn’t see it. I kind of like men, a lot, and my characters do, too. Dr. Hunky, anyone?

I guess beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder, or in this case, the ugliness is in the imagination of the reviewer.

Now I think I’ll go read the negative reviews on Diana Gabaldon’s latest book. Yes, even her work gets blasted. I must be in good company.

Peace, people.

Ain’t it the truth?

Author: nananoyz

I'm a semi-retired crazy person with one husband and two cats.

18 thoughts on “Negative Reviews are Good for the Soul or Something”

  1. Does someone need a hug? Anyone can be a critic, but it takes a real AH to enumerate his or her negative beliefs. In my review of the review, “a thousand” and ” a million” books can’t be wrong. Mayhem’s themes are universal; that’s why so many readers can relate.
    The reviewer seems to view life through a scarred lens. I found your characters to be fresh and believable. Maybe you can write this poor soul into your next novel. Maybe along the lines of a jealous, meanspirited cynic who observes everyone having fun at Happy Valley and experiences a change of heart. Take that, Heartwing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always wonder that, too…I mean what kind of writer would label another author lazy? If one has managed to actually put together a book and gone through the publishing process they’re anything but lazy.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Being a writer myself as well as a voracious reader and writer of reviews, I really enjoyed this post. And I have this odd quirk: sometimes I read a book that’s been trashed just to see if it’s as bad as the reviewers say. After a review like that, I’d like to read yours. 🙂
    Some reviewers just like to be mouthy and nasty. They may have one issue, “Didn’t like all that British English,” and give the book two stars. I’ve read quite a few like yours that list generalities, or briefly, “This book is awful.” When I look at a review like that, it tells me more about the reviewer than the book.
    In writing a review I try to answer: Is it good writing? (I’ve seen books I’d love to take a red pen to!) Does the plot flow smoothly? Are there major improbables that stretch my credibility to snapping point? Recently read a story where two women look very much alike, but one has long blonde hair, the other’s is short + dark. The end reveal is that the blonde was assaulted because the assailant mistook her for the other woman. Not credible.
    As to “run of the mill plots,” almost every book blurb I’ve seen in the past ten years has some woman who’s life has just fallen apart (widowed, divorced, left at the altar) inheriting something and getting “a new start.” Grandma’s antique shop; Grandpa’s cottage at the lake, a co-worker’s small town newspaper, Auntie’s coffee shop or bakery, even Uncle’s funeral home. These books are selling and getting great reviews.
    I think a writer should take what they can out of a book review; there may be a point that could be improved. Like too much repetition of someone’s strong point/weakness. Not knowing what they’ve already been told. A widow never thinking once of her dead husband. Grandpa dying seven years ago — then later he died last spring. Otherwise, just call a “hated-it” review Reader’s block. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your perspective. I’m hyper aware that my novel would never be considered great literature and that I made a few rookie mistakes. It is a bit too long. If I had to do it over again, I’d cut it in half, and that second half would have been book 2.
      However, having said that, the length hasn’t bothered most readers.
      I just got so involved in the characters’ lives that I didn’t want the story to end. And as I was writing it I had no idea if anyone outside of family and friends would read it—it might be my one and only book—so I could not bear to leave it unfinished, thinking that Paula and Cassie would cease to exist.

      Christine, what do you write?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve written all kinds: blog posts, poetry, haiku, short stories. I have one children’s book published traditionally and I’ve self-published a collection of short stories and poems, titled Silver Morning Song. I’m working on a book for teens; my grandson asked for a sort-of Hardy Boys story. One of my problems with this is that there are four principal characters — considered a no-no-in our day. I can’t just tell the whole story from one character’s POV. 🙂

        One thing about self-publishing on Amazon: you can correct errors and republish. I’ve seen a few authors that edited and republished their book — sometimes under a different title — and it was much better the second time around.

        I can understand how the characters become almost a part of your family after you’ve dealt with them for so long — or maybe like permanent boarders? If you have more plots that you can work them into realistically, by all means go for it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, now I’ve downloaded your book — and I see you have a lot of five-star reviews. 🙂 If you do decide to write another, keep me in mind as a beta reader. I’m honest — try to be kind — and insist things be logical. Another friend/fellow writer is doing a cozy mystery series about the town of Happenstance. The Road to Happenstance is her first; she’s working on her third in the series.

    Another thought I had: perhaps the first book a writer publishes should be a stand-alone — and maybe even using a pen name? That way readers won’t associate the errors we make in our first book with us as writers — because we’re bound to get better with time. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Great ideas regarding pen names! Live and learn. And there is a book 2 now. If you like the first one…

      I also have a stand alone (for now) romance that was way too much fun to write.

      Love the name Happenstance for a town! Perfect for a cozy mystery!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I never write reviews but I am – usually – happy that others do. This one seemed over-the-top, like he/she had a personal issue that had nothing to do with your book. Were you able to see any other reviews of other books from this person? Not every book is going to appeal to everybody but husbands cheating or friends going on a road trip, while not unique (is there much that could be called “unique” today?), seem like reasonable jumping off points in a plot. Don’t let them harsh your buzz. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a feeling that this reviewer took offense at a particular scene and didn’t finish the book. So much of the review doesn’t reflect what really happened in the novel. It’s like they made stuff up. I just hope a positive review replaces this one on the “Most Recent” review soon. It’s depressing.

      Like

    1. It truly was. And it’s odd, the things they ranted about. If they’d bothered to read the whole book they might have realized that things weren’t exactly what they seemed in the beginning. Oh well. We can’t please everyone!

      Like

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