Friday, March 8, 2013

Rosalind James Guest Post

Today Rosalind James stops by to discuss the issue of the dreaded BAD/NEGATIVE review.  Me personally, I feel bad about writing bad reviews.  I mean come on, authors put their heart and souls into their books.  But I’ve also spent my time reading the book.  I even had one author tell me that it was okay if they got a bad review, at least the person still read them.  Okay.  Check out what Rosalind has to say.

I Hated This Book! Or, Coping With Negative Reviews
by Rosalind James

To be honest, I thought this one would be easier.  In the first place, I haven’t had that many negative reviews (knock on wood).  So I should be able to dismiss those I have received as outliers, or shrug and say, “can’t please everyone,” right?  Alas, it’s not so easy.  It’s like somebody telling you your baby is ugly.  It still hurts.  Here’s what I’ve found:

1. People love it or hate it for the same reasons.
For example, “Just for Now” is a tender, funny story about family, without a lot of external drama.  It is many readers’ favorite of my books.  But other readers haven’t been crazy about it, for the same reason.  Too much family, too much about the kids, not enough excitement.  It’s personal taste.

2. An apropos quote.
Bill Cosby said, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”  It’s one thing to examine your negative reviews, or negative comments within positive reviews, for anything that is truly HELPFUL.  Was the ending rushed?  Do you have grammatical errors that need to be fixed?  That’s helpful.  That your book didn’t appeal to someone’s personal taste—not helpful.

3. Your mileage may vary.
I’ve written four books, and just in my little critique circle, there are four different favorites!  My readers share the same diversity of opinion.  When I think about my own favorite authors, I don’t love all their books equally.  Some of them I don’t even care for very much.  I’ve never been a huge fan of “Mansfield Park,” because Fanny Price is kind of a drip, isn’t she?  And she and Edmund seem set to have a mighty virtuous and boring life.  And yet I’ve read it at least three times, because Jane Austen writes so well.

4. It goes double for sex.
Think people’s opinions differ about your heroine?  Get reviewers going about the sex in your book!  I’ve had people say, about the SAME BOOK:
“I loved . . . that the sex scenes weren’t so intense.”
“I found the sex scenes to be a little kinky for my taste.”
“Too much explicit sex.”
“Plenty of hot steamy sex.”
One reviewer thought that the hero putting his hand over the heroine’s mouth was BDSM (that would be the “hated it” category).  Bottom line (so to speak), there is a huge variation in steam levels in contemporary romance.  When your books are just getting known, people are finding out if they like the way you write, and in particular, the way you write sex.  You are finding your audience.  And that ain’t everybody.

5. The acid test.
I realized, after wrestling with the “ping-pong ball” effect, where I’d think: “It’s good!”  “No, wait, it’s bad!”  “No, it’s good!” after every review, that the REAL question was, “Did I write the book I wanted to write?” And in all four cases, I answered, “Yes, I did.” That is all I can do.  And it’s all that matters.  On to Book Five.
Rosalind James is the author of the Kindle bestseller Just This Once and the three subsequent books in the Escape to New Zealand series.  She is a former marketing executive who has lived all over the United States and in a number of other countries, traveling with her civil engineer husband.  Most recently, she spent several years in Australia and New Zealand, where she fell in love with the people, the landscape, and the culture of both countries.

Visit to listen to the songs from the books, follow the characters on their travels, watch funny and fascinating New Zealand and rugby videos, and learn about what's new!

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  1. Thanks for hosting me, Jen! And for the review, of course. I have heard that negative reviews make one seem more "legit"--we all know that not everyone loves every book, and also that, sadly, some authors have faked reviews. And I do think that a reader has every right to say what she thought of a book. As you say, you invested the time and money to buy and read it. I've written a few myself--if a book offends me, mainly, on some sort of moral/ethical grounds. So, review away! (But thanks for liking mine, LOL.) Best, Rosalind James

  2. Whoops, I meant Kim, of course. Sorry about that. :) --Rosalind

    1. No problem. Thank you for the guest post.


  3. I read a lot and always write the truth in reviews. As an author, I have a policy of not reading reviews (and I succeed about 75 percent of the time - dammed GR dashboard).

    I wish authors didn't worry so much about reviews. I buy books from bad reviews (and they are ALWAYS the ones I read first). Too much sex, I'll take it. He's not an Alpha, I'll buy it. If everyone loved it and can't say why, I usually skip it. Not everything pleases everyone.

    As a reader, I'm just looking for honest, and I make my decision from there.


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