Thursday, September 15, 2016

Hit Me With Your 1-Star

by Giselle Renarde


I don't read reviews of my books.

In my mind, reviews are for readers. Write a review to tell prospective readers: here's what I loved about this book. Here's what I hated. It didn't appeal to me because X. It did appeal to me because Y.

I don't care it if you 1-star my book. Go ahead! Do it!  I've heard a lot of authors talk about burying 1-star reviews or discouraging them because they'll tank sales, but guess what? My books tank themselves. I am not a high-volume bookseller over here. How I make ends meet I'll never know, because I certainly don't sell a lot of copies of the books I write. Please feel free to malign my work or review it with rabid praise--particularly if what you're saying will help other readers avoid a book they're not going to like or find a book they'll love.

Here's the thing: I appreciate every review posted about my books. That probably sounds strange since I don't actually read them, but I do truly appreciate the time readers put into reviewing my work. I hardly ever review books, but I do sometimes review music I like. Frankly, there's a sense of vulnerability about the whole thing. One of my sisters has a degree in music, but I sure as hell don't. Sometimes I think... well, who am I to post this? What do I know?

I only know what I like, and I try to articulate as best I can WHY I like it and who else might enjoy it. Bravo to everyone who has the confidence to post a review online--to post anything, for that matter. Christ, there can be repercussions.

But not from me. Never from me. Don't be afraid of telling the world how you really feel about my work. I'm not looking over your shoulder.
 
Giselle Renarde is an award-winning queer Canadian writer. Nominated Toronto’s Best Author in NOW Magazine’s 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards, her fiction has appeared in well over 100 short story anthologies. Giselle's juicy novels include Anonymous, Cherry, Seven Kisses, and The Other Side of Ruth.

https://store.kobobooks.com/ebook/in-shadow-a-novel

13 comments:

  1. I didn't resent negative reviews when they involved criticisms that were credible (even though I disagreed with them) or simply subjective reactions. I even encountered one or two reader reviews maintaining that my work was badly written or heavily clichéd—opinions that surprised me, but, hey, these were still just subjective reactions, nothing that could be proved wrong. What irked me were the negative reviews that misrepresented the content of the book in some way that involved fact rather than opinion; and reviews by people who didn't like my erotica because (as I inferred or they actually said outright) they didn't like erotica, period. (I got my share of the latter immediately upon the release of one of my novels, when my publisher signed up for the Amazon Vine program and a lot of people who didn't care for erotica took the book for review because they were part of the Vine program. My publisher then promptly invoked the bad Vine reviews as a rationale for giving up on the book, promotionwise.)

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    1. Preach this. One star reviews are fine if they're credible, as you say. But too many people leave one star reviews because they bought an orange wanting it to be an apple. Or seem to have no reading comprehension whatsoever (I've gotten bad reviews sometimes from people who thought characters had a totally different relationship to each other than they actually do). Or clearly have a personal issue (like one-star reviews I've seen on anthologies where it's pretty obvious that an author rejected from the book left the comments out of bitterness). It's hard to feel charitable about those.

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  2. P.S. Giselle, I recently re-read and re-enjoyed your story in Hungry for More. (:v>

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  3. P.P.S. Apart from the glowingly positive ones, my favorite reader reviews may have been a pair that showed up around the same time, from two different readers reviewing my second novel. Reader A loved the comical plot and didn't take much interest in the sex scenes, while Reader B loved the sex scenes and found the comical plot boring. It was fun seeing those two reviews side by side.

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  4. What a wonderful attitude, Giselle. If I read a strong review of a book, I know it's ruffled feathers. That in itself can make me curious. Especially if the reviews are strong, both good and bad.

    The only negative review that really hurt on "The Gonzo Collection" was by someone who obviously hadn't read the book. Just allowed their opinion of Hunter S. Thompson to define the work. They made assumptions about content that just weren't there.

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  5. I love your title here! Authors have to have thick skin, since once they let their babies (writing) out into the world, they're not able to protect it anymore. Being read, invites opinions. And we don't all like the same things.

    In a similar being to what DaddyX said, I've been working on reading many of the books on the ALA's yearly "Banned Books List," under the premise that if someone finds the books objectionable, then that's something I need to read for myself. I've read some that were just so-so, and some that were stellar. Writing ability doesn't seem to be in the criteria for those who want to control what everyone else is allowed to read. I heartily recommend Sherman Alexi's "Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," and "The Perks of Being a Wallflower." Along with "Catcher in the Rye," these are almost always on the list. But they are excellent books that I feel enhanced for having read.

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    1. You could do a university course with this as the reading list, Giselle!

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  6. My problem is in having much of anybody review my books at all, positive or negative. Granted, I should do more reviews of other folk's books, but I tend to only get around to that when asked, which isn't really what it's supposed to be about. I think some people are intimidated by the idea of writing long, detailed reviews, and they can't be convinced that just a few words would do.

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  7. I have to say, I can't resist reading reviews of my books, even though they're often disappointing. Recently I got a 5 star review from someone at a well-known romance site. I was delighted until I read the review itself, which was so poorly written and lackadaisical that I would never have expected it to accompany a 5 star rating.

    Not that I'm complaining...

    As for reviewing other people's books, I do this as often as I can, because I KNOW how much reviews mean to me. If I really don't like a book, though, I sometimes won't post a review even if I'd planned to. For instance, I recently read (upon request from the author) a romance in which the hero and heroine are both virgins and both hopelessly in love, but the hero is unwilling to "take" the woman's virginity. As you can imagine, this was not my kind of book!

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    1. By the way, I LOVE the cover for In Shadow. Maybe cover art is a reasonable way to supplement your income!

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    2. No surprise the Romance wouldn't float your boat, Lisabet. It doesn't sound realistic either. ;>)

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  8. You must have nerves of steel to resist the temptation to read reviews of your work, Giselle! (I believe you have nerves of steel, based on your previous posts.) I once reviewed a novel by another Canadian lesbian writer I admire, Nairne Holtz, who claimed that she never read her reviews. After my review was published in The Gay & Lesbian Review (from Cambridge, Mass.), Nairne sent me an email thanking me for the insights in my review, which she "happened" to see. Ha.

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  9. I try not to read my reviews but don't always succeed, and I love the things you've said here, Giselle.

    As far as reviews, I try, but I have a fraught relationship with Goodreads. It's hard knowing the author will likely see whatever I write. As you say, I think reviews are for readers, and I feel bad when I think about the author looking at them, especially if I had mixed feelings about a book.

    I've actually started a private reading journal. It's an odd relief to write down what I really think about what I'm reading without trying to be diplomatic. Tells me something has broken (at least for me) about doing it in public.

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