Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Anita's Attic: Reviews - Love It! Hate It!

Reviews are part of every author's life, from your family to critique partners to the real audience...readers and reviewers. I dreaded getting reviews because I don't have very thick skin and I can sometimes take things personally, something that isn't good for an author. But since Awaken came out in May, I've been really lucky with reviews. At first, I couldn't find a bad one. The worst I had was "loved it but got a bit cluttered" or something like that. But from listening to other author's experiences, I knew bad reviews would eventually find me, and they did. The amazing thing is THEY DIDN'T BOTHER ME. I just laughed. I think my husband got more upset than I did. And it proved that readers do have different tastes. As you’ll see from the reviews I’m posting here, what one reader loved, another hated.
After 20%, the amount of leaps in logic and lack of world building have me at a loss…
...the world that Clenney has created is fascinating and has great potential for many books. I enjoyed the fact that the author paid attention to every detail, she gave you enough information to keep you puzzled in one chapter but held the answer until further into the book. I just couldn't put the book down… I can't wait for the next book!
I had high hopes for this story, but was disappointed. …At 50% of my way through the Kindle version, I had figured out the plot.
I cussed this book up one side and down the other. It took so many twists and turns, I wasn't sure where it was going. When it finally got there I was worn slap out, but deliriously happy. This is a PHENOMENAL book. A great debut to a new MUST READ series.
I had a difficult time getting through the middle. The romance was good, but the story was lacking. Too much talking about the same topic and not enough action. The reunion with the introduction of so many ancillary characters strikes me as a mere set up for sequels. I skimmed this section (twiddling my thumbs) wondering when I'd get to the denouement. I wasn't the least bit interested in these reunion characters.
I think I enjoyed this story more in the second half. Once they had tracked down Faelan's family (the descendants of his brothers and sister). It was great to all of a sudden have a load of new people involved in the story.
I literally do not know what to say about this book. It ended. I read the last page. I did not want it to end. I read the last page again. It still ended…It's not that the book didn't come to a wonderful, climatic ending. It did. I just did not want it to end. It was action packed. It was pack with intrigue and suspense.
First half of the book was just okay - definitely became more interesting once the characters went to Scotland.
Fast paced, grabbed me from the start, original complex story!
This novel had a wonderful leading couple. I was drawn into their romance and thought that the issues they faced were well thought-out and expressed. Where this novel flopped for me was the lack of plot editing. There were more loose ends than I can stand to list…
The storyline that ran through-out this book was fantastic. I really liked the whole Warriors vs Demons. The story had so many twists and turns, it constantly keeps you guessing. Just when you think you know what's going to happen and who the bad guy's are... something else happens and completely throws you off the scent. It was beyond genius!
The storyline was just magic.
The premise for the book was interesting enough but I couldn't get past the bad writing. I am glad I only paid 99 cents, but am disgusted at my wasted hours spent hoping it would get better. It never did. It had a great premise. If it was edited to 1/2 the pages and their attraction was more believable, I may have enjoyed it. Instead I am just angry about my invested time.
I loved this book from the very first page. The writing was evocative, had a lovely touch of humour and lots of sensitivity. The story had plenty of action, romance and mystery, and I so much wanted to spend more time with the Warrior, Faelan that I re read the book as soon as I finished it.
I must say it quickly became a favorite read. I don't know if I can recall any book ever making me so worried or so warm and gooey - sometimes all at once.
Bloody hell where to do I even start... It was INCREDIBLE! I was sucked straight into the story from the very first page to the very last word.

This shows that two readers can love or hate the same thing in a book. It’s all subjective, and as writers we have to remember that the review does not define the writer. However, I have learned a lot from the negative comments. For one thing, I’ve had a lot of comments about Bree. Everyone wants to know what the mystery with Bree is. I was trying to leave it to be revealed in the second book, but in hindsight I wish I had tied up her mystery a little better. I’ll always have mysteries that will play out over a series, but in future books I’ll try to find a way to leave the reader feeling as if it's been solved, then hit them with a shock in the next book. Also, one reader pointed out that I have too many questions in my writing, and she's right. I do have a lot, maybe too many. It didn't bother most readers, but I can certainly tone it down.

So from the good and bad reviews, I can glean something that will make me examine my writing and perhaps become a better writer, but the ugly ones are usually just bitter readers who wish they could write. Those I'll ignore.


Tonya Kappes said...

Well, what I've learned is not to read the reviews. Just like you said, everyone is different! And I've found that reviews are based on emotions and not true facts of the plot, characters situations, etc...."lack of world building"...really? Now the questions thing, maybe you could tone that down if you wanted, but it's your voice. That's what your true readers love. And those true readers will follow you everywhere. And those true readers usually don't leave reviews.

I'm glad they don't bother you. Well done!

Anita Clenney said...

Hi Tonya. I think most authors don't read reviews. We seem to get mixed reactions on a single aspect of writing.

And you raise a good point about the questions. If it's my voice, then I have to be careful about messing with something just because of one, or even a few, comments. But in this case, subconsciously I was aware that in areas I did have a lot. Not necessarily too many, but it won't hurt me or anyone to rephrase some of them.

Eventually, I'll probably get to the point that I don't read any reviews, but for now, I'm finding them helpful.

Judi said...

Really interesting post. I like the way you juxtaposed the comments. In this business, it's all about the subjective.

I always read my reviews. So far, I've been pretty lucky and most have been positive. I did get one that was a bit less than positive for my latest Pepper Goodrich erotica release commenting/complaining that it was "stranger sex" (that's exactly what it is) and short (that's exactly what it is). I just chuckled and figured she got it right.

Suzanne Johnson said...

Great post, Anita--I don't have very thick skin, either, but I don't know if I could stand to NOT read the reviews. My first isn't out for a few months yet, so I'm trying to prepare myself. :-)

Anita Clenney said...

Judi, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who reads reviews. Mine have been mostly good, but even the bad reviews cause me to examine my writing. If I do it objectively, and not in a panic over one opinion, that can be constructive.

Anita Clenney said...

Suzanne, I don't obsess over reviews, which is strange because I obsess over lots of things :) But I can't imagine not reading them, for now, anyway. I wish you lots of luck with your release and hope you get tons of awesome reviews, and as for the rest...read them and learn from them then forget them.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

I feel the same way, Anita. I read everything! I love learning people really loved Morty and the house and what to know more about them. It also did help that some people thought Sunny was too immature to be 29 and stomping her foot. Okay so I'm 43 and still stomp my foot. What does that say about me :-) But it did help make me aware of someo of the things I'm doing right, and some things that might turn readers off.

Being aware of something doesn't necessarily mean you will change it. But it does mean you are more conscious when writing, which is always a good thing.

Great post.

Anita Clenney said...

I'm with you, Kari. I want to know what they liked and didn't like. I want that feedback. This is a different subject, but in my second book, I had written two crazy old ladies who I thought were hilarious, but I had a bad feeling my editor would think they were unnecessary and want me to cut them. She doesn't like too many secondary characters, and I already had a lot with all those warriors. But when she came back with edits, she told me not to dare touch the two old ladies. She loved them and thought they provided the comic relief needed for the story. Different scenario, editor vs. reader, but that feedback was really important to me.

Lindsay said...

I've always felt that reviews are just one persons opinion, which they are. To be taken with a grain of salt. How many times have you read a bad, or not so great review about a TV show, movie or book? Only to find you totally disagree with what the reviewer said.
Good, great reviews we all talk about and tout, the bad ones we hide away but in both cases don't we learn from the experience and work only that much harder to maintain the best level we can for our readers, not so much the reviewers.

Liz Lipperman said...

Anita, you are a brave soul. As you know, I am just now getting ready for the onslaught of reviews, and like you, my skin needs to get thicker. Having read your book, it gives me bit of confidence that if they could say bad things about such a great story, I should expect anything. And I'm finally to the point where I know how subjective this business really is. Thanks for reminding me once again to just write the best damn book I can and know someone won't get me and hate it.

mona karel said...

I agree reviews are just one person's opinion, and in the long run at least that many people read your book to review it. If I ever feel sensitive about my reviews I go to one of my favorite books by a favorite author, and read the "1" reviews. At some point every book gets a bad review.

Marilyn said...

At least for me, it was a step in maturing as a writer to learn to handle critiques at conferences and in critique groups. When I first started writing, I was defensive and felt as though I had to protect my baby. Then I thought I had to change to please anybody who said something negative. As I grew as a writer, I realized this was first and foremost a story that only I knew how to tell because it was my voice. I listened to consistent feedback or feedback that gave me an aha moment. To the rest, I said, "Thanks for your imput" and let it go. I hope I can do the same with my published book.

Donna Cummings said...

Anita, thanks for sharing these. It's never easy to hear criticism, even if it's "constructive", or justified, so it's nice if we can learn something productive from it.

I got a suggestion from a new beta reader the other day -- and it was something very helpful that I hadn't thought of, so I was glad to hear it. It also came AFTER heaps of praise -- LOL -- which I was REALLY glad to hear.

I liked Marilyn's point about being in that stage where we think we have to change something that's been critiqued negatively. It's good to have confidence in our stories, and our abilities to tell them the way we are meant to. :)

Cassy Pickard said...

Anita: Great posting! You have made the point so well that we really must write what we must write. There is no way to please everyone. It seems as though you have to either read as many reviews as possible or none at all. If you only read a few, one's perspective could be totally off base. Thanks for sharing. You're the best!

Nina Pierce said...

Reviews are so subjective as you've said. What drives me more insane is the incongruency of comments and stars. I've had a reviewer talk about how much she loved my book then give me three stars. Three stars doesn't say "love" to me, it says "meh". But I've had the opposite happen as well where the reviewer kind of tore my book apart and then gave it 4 stars.

LOL! Who knows.

Anita Clenney said...

Lindsay, I agree that reviews are just one person's opinion. You can't put too much stock in it. They might be in a bad mood that day or fighting with their husband and angry at the world. But I do read them because I want to know what they're thinking. If something they say makes sense to me, then I take it into consideration.

Anita Clenney said...

Liz, I think you're going to handle the reviews just fine. You know it's a good book. Your CP's, agent and editor wouldn't let it out the door if it wasn't. I really got a good laugh at the inconsistancy of the reviews. It really proves that we all have different tastes. And I swear some of those people are just jealous and angry.

Anita Clenney said...

Mona, what a great idea to consider a favorite book and the bad reviews they got. We all get them. In this age of technology, it seems people are so anxious to share everything. What they had for breakfast, what they like and don't like about everything, and I think some readers want attention. After all, it's the bad, squeaky wheel that gets the oil.

Anita Clenney said...

Marilyn, very well said. If a comment or critique rings a bell with me, I'll listen. Otherwise, I just move on. Even with my CP, who is fantastic. We want to protect those babies we've made, but when we put them out there for the world to see, critique will come.

Anita Clenney said...

Donna, I've never liked criticism, but it's surprised me how little negative reviews have bothered me. There was one commenter who I was tempted to respond to because she had questions, frurstrated questions, and I really wanted to answer them, but I didn't. It's our story and we are the ones who can tell it, but if someone points out something helpful, then that's great. I had one reviewer point out a word that Faelan uses that she didn't think he would use, and I think she's right. I didn't catch it. So, we can learn from the bad.

Anita Clenney said...

Cassy, we can't please them all, so we have to be true to ourselves and our story. I'm not going to change my story because of reviews UNLESS it's something that's resonated inside me as well. At least two or three things readers have mentioned did, and I'll use those to make my writing stronger. They were things that didn't bother some people, but they had been niggling at the back of my brain as well.

Anita Clenney said...

Nina, I KNOW!! I had one reviewer rave about the book and gave it three stars. Actually, a few did that. I had another who had some issues and gave it four stars.

Dana Rodgers said...

Great post Anita! I still say there are so many different kinds of writers out there because there are so many different kinds of readers. You make a great point that it is important to listen to what everyone says and then only take to heart the things that you are either hearing over and over again or those that resonate with you as well.

Anita Clenney said...

Hi Dana, my fantastic CP. I think there are lots of different tastes out there. I just think that reviewers should be honest but not hateful. It's like our critiques. We don't beat around the bush if we don't like something in each other's writing, because that wouldn't help anyone, but being rude isn't necessary. If readers don't like a book, they have a right to say so, but they should say it with tact.

D.R. Grady said...

Wow, Anita! I love your attitude about those reviews. May I have your strength when this happens to me. Seems a good review should be like a good critique - to inspire us to be better writers!

I'm awed by your great attitude.