1. Can't live with them/Can't live without them. 2. Readers demand that you have them/Readers don't like to write them. 3. Five-star reviews are wonderful/One-star reviews not so much. 4. They make me sad/They make me happy.
“Couldn't put it down”
“The most well-written book I have ever read”
Writers love to read reviews like that. I know I do. We've put our heart and blood into our work and we want to hear that you “get” what we have created. We want to hear you say you will lap up any and every word we have ever written or ever will write.
When I look at my Amazon account and I see another review has been posted, my heart races with excitement/trepidation. It could be good, but it might not be.
“Unfortunately, this book is really, really poor”
“The characters were uninspiring”
“I would rather watch the grass grow”
“Well, this is one authoress I will not be reading again.”
or even “It was OK”
I don't like to hear any of that. Well, I guess I don't hate the “OK” one but it's not as warm and fuzzy as, “The most well-written book I have ever read”. I really liked that one.
I know the commentators think they are just being honest, but don't they understand that this honesty thing can set off a whole chain of unpleasant events, like:
The writer gets a bad review.The writer gets bummed out.
The writer begins to fixate only on the negative review, ignoring the other 129 positive reviews.
The writer sinks into a deep, dank, drinking depression.
The writer considers drastic measures, like:
- Suicide? Too drastic.
- Never writing again? Maybe.
- Writing back to the reviewer? Yeah, that's the ticket. Let the reviewer know why you left out big chunks of plot, or why you thought character development was unnecessary, or most importantly, why you thought a hundred page description of the man's chest added intrigue to your young adult cook book novel.
But, the supreme comfort, as all writers know, is to read the bad reviews of other, much more famous, much more successful writers.
Here are some actual reviews.
Pride and Prejudice - “A completely forgettable book, and I have no clue as to why so many people find it romantic.”
War and Peace - “2nd worst book ever”
Anna Karenina - “Quite possibly the most boring thing I have ever read.”
I wonder if the great J K Rowling feels demoralized when her readers belittle her new novel, “The Casual Vacancy”. This book has more one-star reviews than five-star reviews and has generated considerable disappointment from her loyal readers. I know comments like “Dull, Dismal and Disappointing” and “100 shades of 'meh'” would make me sad, but on the other hand her book is currently #25 in books on Amazon. And, since there are somewhere around five million books on Amazon, being #25, is probably going to trump a heap of warm and fuzzy reviews. So, I guess, in the end, it's not really how many good or bad reviews you get; it's how many readers read your book.