Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Reviews

More specifically, book reviews. I wrote a book, actually, it wasn't really a book. I wrote a series of essays, I wrote them for myself, as a form of therapy and to put a stop to the well meaning urging from friends and family who read them, I self published. I really had no expectations and was very pleased that anyone bought it, even more pleased that some even read it, and delighted that a few went to the trouble of posting reviews on Amazon.com (where the book is available in both paperback and for kindle). I freely admit that most of the reviews were written by people who knew me, some perhaps not very well, but all had at least met me.

From time to time I receive a few cents in royalties, signalling another sale. It really does surprise me that anyone would buy it. It isn't fiction, it is all fact and while it is obviously of interest to me, I find it difficult to believe anyone else would care about it. Except for the very few who might gain some benefit from one or two chapters, if they had similar experiences. I really did write it for my own personal benefit. My intention was to peel away the layers of scar tissue and expose the wounds in the hope that I could then let them heal. And I will tell you, heal they did.

So, perhaps you can imagine my surprise when I received a review from a total stranger. Someone had bought my book and had taken the time to write a review. Yes, it was not a very good review, actually it was not in the least bit good, but despite that, they gave it two stars, which I feel was at least one more than warranted by the review.

At first I was a little uncomfortable about the review. Not annoyed, probably more embarrassed. Embarrassed that someone spent good money on it to discover that it was, in their words 'boring'. And I don't doubt it would be very boring to a lot of people.

I put the review out of my mind for a while, then returned and read it again. Still the overall feeling was embarrassment. Certainly if you write something, and put it out there for the general public, you are inviting criticism. But the more I thought about it, the more I feel grateful. Some total stranger bought my book (I wonder why?) and read it, and then took the time to write a review.

Thank you K. Marlo and I am sorry that you were bored, sorry that it wasn't what you had hoped. You see, it was, as you said, an account of some random woman's life. Well, not my entire life, just the pieces that caused scars or deep seated memories. And believe me, it was peeling layers of my life back, sadly I can't peel layers of your life, only you can do that.  (see the review here)


As I rationalized the two star review, I accept that I am some random woman, but then everyone is just some random person to most other people. Every writer writes what is inside them trying to get out. I admit that I don't do much to market my book, the most I do is place a link to Amazon.com where you can purchase it, here on my blog. The main reason I don't market it is because I don't really expect anyone to have any interest in it. The few people I believe could possibly benefit from some of my experiences, I have given a copy to. So, I don't feel too bad if someone buys it and doesn't enjoy it.

However, after 3 months digesting the review, I also do not feel bad about that either. In fact the more I think about it, the better I feel. Someone bought it, read it and took the time to write a review, to me that is amazing and  a gift.

I did some searches and it is very interesting the differing opinions there are about negative reviews. And the amazingly negative reviews some incredible books and authors received - don't get me wrong, I don't consider my book a potential best seller, nor do I consider myself any sort of  a writer. I just love to write and most of all I find it very therapeutic.

The New York Times on negative book reviews. (And yes, NYT is very, very low in my estimation of good reporting, bearing in mind the almost comical way they portrayed my employer recently)

The Huffington Post, which I do admire.

Here is an interesting article which indicates that a negative review can possible boost sales. Well, I think it would take a little more than that to boost my sales, but sales were not my intention as I already said.

I found this one interesting. I know people who write reviews on Amazon as a hobby. Personally, I will write a review, as the articles says, if I am extremely happy with a product, extremely unhappy, or if I receive exceptional customer service.

I enjoyed this one, though I had already figured out how I felt about my bad review, it was still an interesting take.

And finally, as I mentioned above, some best sellers with bad reviews.