Be Mine (Reviewer)?

I am six months old…as an author. Well, published for six months anyway.

I’ve been writing for years. (Just didn’t realize I was writing a book until it was finished.) Last February, my debut novel ‘Solstice Night‘ was released. In the weeks building up to the release, my publisher and I did our best to promote the book. Part of creating buzz around a book are book reviews. My publisher sent PDF copies to several professional book review sites. I did as well. The sites we submitted to don’t review books for pay, but they don’t guarentee they will review the book either. I also appealed to family and friends, my first readers. I asked them to give their honest opinions on Amazon or Barnes & Nobel.

‘Solstice Night’ debuted with no reviews. It was hard not to be bothered. I worked hard and wrote a book. Then I gave it away for free, just asking for feedback in return. It made me feel like I was whining or asking for a favor. “Please, Sir, could you read my book. I would be so grateful.” The lack of response from family and friends hit closest to home understandably. I sent out repeated requests on facebook (with links to my book online), email and phone calls. Perhaps it was unfair of me to even ask. Perhaps they felt they would be biased. One family member did come through and I was very thankful.

I changed tactics, but kept sending my book out. I asked for reviews from sites that specialized in my book’s genre, paranormal romance. Here I found success. ‘Bitten by Paranormal Romance‘ gave ‘Solstice Night’ a five-star review:

“WOW! Solstice Night was nothing at all what I expected.  It was so much more.  From the first chapter the depth of the characters gripped me…” -Carole Dee

Carole Dee wrote a very detailed and complimentary review. She re-posted it on GoodReads and Amazon. I was glowing from the excellent review during the quiet weeks that followed. Mid-summer, I decided to let my book be read by a few members of GoodReads group, Bookholic Anonymous. This time the review was harsh. The GoodReads member posted a 1-star rating and didn’t even finish the book. The group moderator contacted the reviewer and asked she either finish the book or not rate it. It was a small justification that the reviewer did finish the book (or at least claimed to).

“I was bored while reading and will reiterate that “this is just not for me” it may work for you it may not but I am sticking with my one star rating.”

I think, or I am choosing to think, ‘paranormal romance’ just wasn’t what this person was into. For example, I don’t like historical romances (but I don’t offer to review them either). I was a little surprised how someone could really, reallllllly dislike it after the previous reader loved it. I also found irony in the fact, I deliberately ASKED for this. I opened myself up to a stranger’s opinion.

Balm for my injuries came quickly. Iris at Paranormal Cravings gave the book five-stars.

“Solstice Night has everything you want in a paranormal romance. It is written fast paced with action, love, and paranormal beings like vampires, empaths and werewolves. And all those elements are wrapped in an exiting story that I had troubles with, putting down.” -Iris

The latest review was a nice well-rounded mix of praise and constructive criticism – just to keep me humble.

“I read the book and I can say that I did like it. Was there anything different in regards to the vamps and werewolves as compared to other books? Not really though the cast of characters pretty much made up for that. The premise of the story was actually unique as well.” -GoodReads Review

So, I’m not entirely sure where my book ranks. On average it’s a 3.5-4, but the reviews are so polarizing. It seems those who liked it really liked and those who didn’t….well.

Thanks to everyone who rated/reviewed ‘Solstice Night’. Yes, even those who gave poor reviews, thank you. Because there are a number of reviewers out there that agreed to read and accepted copies, but haven’t posted public reviews yet. And hearing nothing is worse than a bad review.


10 comments on “Be Mine (Reviewer)?

  1. It’s a toughie. Hang in there.

  2. Thank you for sharing your all-too-common experience and results, despite heroic efforts. Fortunately there are several qualified and commited reviewers in our midst who surface from time to time. Best of luck to you with “Solstice Night.”

  3. It’s tough, I know. But there’s a bright side. I’d be much happier with polarized reviews than all average, because it means some people are really getting your story.

    I read the ‘how I sold a quadzillion books’ thing from John Locke. His first releases where highly polarized, but to him, that was all part of the plan… it was finding his target audience and screening out people who don’t like his books! There’s some sense in that.

    • Yeah, I finally determined I’d rather have a negative review than silence. When a reviewer accepts my book then doesn’t respond, I think the worst. At least if they react to my work that’s something.

      Thanks for commenting.

  4. Thanks for sharing your experience. I just starting to get reviews for my soon to be released novel, A Stop in the Park. So far, so good, but the the feeling of waiting and hoping is intense. What we writers go through. I wish you all the best.

  5. Opening yourself up to a stranger’s opinion can be frightening, as I’m finding out. One thing that has helped me is remembering the movie, The Matrix. I absolutely loved that movie when it came out (five stars), but I know people who can’t stand it (one star). The fact that they don’t like it doesn’t take away from it for me. It’s a preference thing – not quality of work.

  6. I like your comparison (and I like the Matrix) 🙂

  7. It was not really my genre either, but I loved the depth of characters and it kept me hooked all the way through!!

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