Saturday, September 13, 2008

What do Reviews REALLY say?

Writers love to get great reviews. Writers hate those bad ones. But the question to consider is..."What do those reviews really mean?"

This one is really simple. Each review is simply one person's view on your story. It is not going to make or break you or your career. It is simply one view. Remember that writing is really a subjective business. What works for one person or publisher may not work for others. The same holds true with reviewers.

Here is something else to consider. I remember reading somewhere (of course I can't remember where but that really doesn't matter) that one reviewer only wrote reviews for the stories she liked so therefore the ratings were always really high. Hmmmm, makes you think, huh? Many published writers know this and carefully select who will review their books and who won't.

So, if these things are purely subjective, what do they tell us? Simply that someone liked or hated the book. That is all. The real purpose, however, is to get that author's name out there in the public. The more the name gets around, the increased chance the writer will be remembered when the reader goes into the book store. Pure and simple - name recognition.

I was talking about this with a writer recently after she had received a review that wasn't amazing. The review was about a C-level. Together, we went back and visited the other reviews by this same critic. What we found was not a shock. There was a distinct pattern with the stories this person liked and the stories that this person didn't like. The reason this writer recieved a C-level rating was simple - the story was just outside of this critic's "favorite style" zone.

Maybe writers need to take the same advice many actors give each other. They simply don't read the reviews.

1 comment:

  1. I have also found, with my own experience, that reviews can also point out an overall flaw in a story.

    My first release, a scifi romance, got mixed reviews. Several loved it, several loathed it. But there was one continuous comment that kept coming up -- the beginning was slow to start.

    So I went back and looked at the book, and they were right. The beginning was slow to get going.

    In an ironic twist of fate, the company that released the book later closed, and I have been returned the rights to the book.

    Guess what I'm going to work on in the book before I resubmit it anywhere? lol.

    So I learned something from those reviews, even the not so great ones...