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The Thing About Reviews

4 May 2012

22 reviews, and 33 likes. It’s always just easier to click a button.

Yesterday, I touched on the fact that Supercritical would be available to reviewers any day now. On 47 Echo, I started getting reviews on the book about a month out, and they were generally good — four- and five-star reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads. Right now, 47 Echo is sitting at about 3.9 on Goodreads and 3.6 on Amazon. I think that’s about right.

Now, as far as individual reviews go, they’re all over the board. I’ve gotten a handful of 5-stars, but I’ve gotten a 1-star here and there. And here’s the thing — they’re all completely valid. Each one of those reviews represents how the reader felt about the book at the time he wrote the review, so there’s no way they can be anything but correct. Now, sometimes a reviewer will launch something personal in there (one person said that all the four- and five-star reviews must have been posted by friends of mine) which is factually inaccurate, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the reader’s reaction to the story, and that’s subjective — some people will dig it, some people won’t.

I’m one of those people who doesn’t expect everyone to like what I do. Now, that’s not to say that my writer’s ego doesn’t think everything should get rated 5 stars — my writer’s ego is huge — but I’m also a realist. There are multiple Oscar-winning movies that weren’t my thing. There are bestselling books that I’ve read and didn’t like. It’s all about opinion, and yes good reviews are great to get. But bad reviews have their value, too, and it’s the same as good reviews.

At a certain point, if you’re writing a book and start worrying about how people will receive it, you have to take a step back. You have to worry more about staying true to the characters and the story than you do about how it will eventually be received. And then…

Then you have to let it go. You have to give it to the audience, because it belongs to them now. You can’t pull it back and change it (or, at least, I don’t think you necessarily should). No art is ever finished, it’s just abandoned. When you feel like you’ve done all you can do, let it go, and let it out into the hands of the world. Don’t step back in and George-Lucas the hell out of it, no matter how tempted you might be.

That’s just my opinion, anyway. Anyone think that it’s better to modify something based on audience reaction? Or is that something the creator should take under advisement for the next thing?

Note: I just realized I wrote this on May the 4th and mentioned George Lucas and the Special Editions. That was completely by accident… or the 4th was with me. Have a good weekend!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 4 May 2012 1308

    The review that always leaves me scratching my head is the old “I didn’t get it” which seems to tell me more about the reviewer than anything about the words or phases I’ve woven together.

    Thanks for sharing your experience here.

    • 4 May 2012 2237

      I don’t so much mind that review, either. They didn’t get it. Cool. I (and anyone reading it) can go ahead and disregard that review. 😉

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