Skip to main content

The Five Stages of Review Hell

I've had two contrasting experiences this week which prompted my thinking around this blog. The first was a conversation with an established writing friend, who has three books out. We were talking about each other's books and I said I thought I'd left a review having read their book - but wasn't sure. (Must check, actually). And they were equally not sure because they hadn't looked at their reviews for awhile.

In the meantime, I have several friends who have only just brought out their books and they know what reviews they have, what stars they've been awarded, and who else might be going to leave a review.

That was me a year or so back. And, I suspect, the first exchange will be me in a year or two. (I'm not there yet. Not quite.)

So, here's how the review cycle has gone. (For me. I assume there are some writers who come out of the blocks not giving a damn and plenty of veterans who still angst over reviews).

1. The book is released. You've had your beta feedback. You've worked with your editor. Your book-baby probably doesn't resemble the book you began with. Hell, it probably doesn't resemble the one from two months ago. And the first readers buy it and you start chewing your nails.

Now, if you're in any way organised - or if your publisher is - the first reviews will be gentle. They'll be from people who were interested enough to read in advance, or your mother, buying it the moment the book comes out. They're survivable. In fact - whisper it - this review lark is great craic! Everyone loves you. You are the writing-boss.

2. First negative reviews come in.

You've been so used to seeing 5* and the odd 4* to balance it out - and then you get your 1st 3*. And you're staring at it, and your average has dropped and things aren't just so much fun.

And then you get a 2*. And then a 1*. And it eats at you and you want to respond but do not. Do not engage. (I don't say ever - I've had a couple of very nice exchanges with reviewers but I've never thrown my dummy out of the pram).

And you look at your next WIP and think what's the point if your stuff's so crap anyhow....

3. First professional review

Now, this one kept me awake nights with both Abendau's Heir and Inish Carraig. These reviewers know their stuff. They review books all the time. Worse - they have followings. People who trust their judgement buy books because of what they say.

I did okay with all of mine. My nerves coped less admirably.

4. You take your first day off checking.

Maybe you're on holiday. Or busy. Or it's just quietened down on the review front anyhow. Whisper it - checking feeds that don't update gets old. But you suddenly wake up, realise you haven't checked, log onto Goodreads and.... nothing. Nothing changed. Still 3 people reading it and however many reviews. Go do some writing, why not?

5. You stop obsessing. You might even stop noticing.

I'm not quite there yet. I do still know my current Goodreads ratings. (I think. Sort of. In a ball park manner.) But I don't tend to wince at the bad'uns. And I don't tend to feel my heart jumping when a new review arrives.

So, take heart. This crazy stage gets better. In the meantime - own them all like a boss. Even the one stars - someone hated your book enough to tell the world! Get you. :)

In the meantime, here's my profile. Go read my horrid reviews and remind yourself we all get them. It just doesn't always have to matter.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13696082.Jo_Zebedee

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A NATURAL HISTORY OF GOBLINS - a guest blog by Teresa Edgerton

Some fantasy writers like to write about elves, others prefer werewolves, vampires, or zombies. I have a penchant for goblins.

In folklore, the word "goblin" has been applied in myriad ways. A goblin might be a mischievous sprite like Puck, a hideous, vengeful ghost, or even a beneficient house spirit such as a brownie. Sometimes it was used as a synonym for fairy, sometimes applied to a separate race: small, ugly, and malicious. I've taken advantage of this ambiguity, and in each series of books I've written where goblins appear, I've reinvented them.

In the second Celydonn series (sequels to The Green Lion Trilogy) they are fuathan, bad fairies if you will. I like writing about fairies. Even the best of them are not nice; they are not benevolent. On occasion they may be extravagently generous. Grateful for small favors, they return them with magnificent gifts and spectacular rewards. But you cannot trust them. Their morality is not our morality, their laws…

Getting hearts racing, an interview with fantasy-romance novelist Suzanne Jackson

Today I'm chatting with Suzanne Jackson, whose debut novel has been picked up by Venus Ascending, a new fantasy/sci-fi romance imprint headed up by Teresa Edgerton. I'm lucky enough to be a critique partner of Sue's, and can confirm that this book is something special with a great, unique world, sumptuous writing, a fantastic female lead, and the so-bad-he's-irresistible Nicholas Jarrett.
So I thought I'd be the first to nab the elusive Suzanne and find out what makes her - and her world - tick.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




Firstly, tell us a little about your world, and how you've managed to marry fantasy with romance?


Hi, Jo. Thank you for inviting me onto your blog for my very first interview. I’m thrilled to be able to talk a little bit about my book and characters.
The Beguiler is set in a fantasy world similar in many ways to Georgian England. Many people are superstitious, with goo…

ON COMMUNITIES

This week a theme has emerged over my conversations and interactions, almost organically. That theme is about communities and how they can give a voice and strength to the individuals within it. I’m a member of a range of writing communities. Some, such as Women Aloud and the SFFchronicles, I’m pretty central to. Some, less so:
Despite having a reputation for writing some dark scenes, my work isn’t dark enough to be classed as grimdark*. And I don’t read a whole heap of Grimdark books (the odd one slips through my eclectic book-selection part of my brain, but so does the odd macho-man romance.) But I like the Grimdark community grimdark fiction readers & writers – they’re funny and warm (I know, I know, they really need to up their grim credentials) and very welcoming. And moderated as tightly as a group needs to be. So, I hang around and post the odd comment and chat with the odd member – not that they’re all odd, of course – and that’s as far as it needs to go. The group have …