Saturday, October 6, 2012

Reviews are Giving Me Mood Swings!

Welcome guest blogger Ashlyn Chase.

Okay, I can’t claim to be even keel all the time but seriously folks, a 5 one day and a 3 the next? Then another 5 and later no rating at all but a few unkind words? Ugh!

I’m thrilled and motivated to continue on and strive for excellence when I get an extraordinary review; and then if I read another reviewer’s lackluster opinion, I wonder why a mediocre hack like me doesn’t throw in the towel?  I can’t be alone in this, can I? Actually, I’m not. I know a New York Times bestselling authors who no longer reads her reviews for the same reason. I know another one who says, “If I get a good review, the reviewer is obviously a person of fine and discerning taste. If I get a poor review, the reviewer is obviously a whack-job.”

My critique partner, who gets consistent 4’s, 5’s and top picks (blast her) says my schizo reviews are the result of my being a risk taker. I don’t write the same expected thing over and over. To that I say, “Well, duh!” I—I mean, well done! That’s what I’m aiming for. Entertainment is my only goal. Maybe I’m easily bored but I like my entertainment to surprise me. And with all honesty and modesty, I can’t say I don’t deliver. (Pardon the double negative.) To bring laughter and love to a world that badly needs it is my highest aspiration. To provide a healthy escape from today’s stress is a lofty ambition but I hope I accomplish this—at least for some of the people, some of the time. I know these are tall orders, but on good days I feel as though I’ve succeeded and maybe I’ve chosen the right profession. On those other days, I think I should get a “real job.”

I had some health problems recently and was told I have to remain on a strict diet for the rest of my life. Ugh. That doesn’t help my mood, however, it doesn’t affect it nearly as much as a crumby review. I cried in my doctor’s office last week. I’m embarrassed to say it was from grief—and nobody died—just my “indomitable” spirit. He gave me his philosophy. He said, “Don’t you know the number one rule of life? It’s: There is no gratitude.” Yikes. I made sure I thanked him.

Okay, here is where some well-meaning person is going to tell me to grow a thick skin. Before you do that, be sure you can tell me where to buy the fertilizer and the “how to” book. Constructive criticism is welcome. Admonishment for lack of perfection is cause for a kick in the shins.

Do I expect stellar reviews all of the time? Of course not. I’m actually my worst critic and uniquely surprised when a reviewer praises my book to the skies. So, if I want to keep this job, how do I get off the moody roller coaster? I guess I’ll have to do what my best selling friend does. Wear blinders and count my blessings. I have a wonderful supportive husband who pays the bills while I pay my dues. I have my health—such as it is. I can still work in my garden, go on vacation, or simply enjoy a beautiful day.

I know it’s against the rules to tell reviewers anything but “thank you,” (and I’ve been “reported” to my publisher for breaking that rule) still, I’m going to take a risk here and say, “You can be nice while being honest.” A 3 isn’t enough for the overachiever in me, but if the reviewer was honest and respectful, ok. I’d also appreciate knowing why he or she wasn’t impressed enough to give it at least a 4. It sends me into another mood swing when I get a 3 and every word in the review is positive. Huh? Although disappointed, I’ll thank a total stranger who took the time to read and review my story.

I don’t like to review for my friends and try to avoid it. It’s usually suspect if the reader thinks you know each other. On the other hand, friends don’t give friends 3’s. If you’re reviewing a friend’s book, remember what you’re mamma taught you…with a twist. “Give it a shout out or shut up!” Otherwise, you’ll be perceived as one of those asses who stab other authors in the back to cut down the competition and you just may lose a friend.


Ashlyn Chase said...

Thanks for having me on your blog today, Isa! May all your reviews be happy!

Isabelle Drake said...

You too!

Vanessa Chaland said...

I think of reviews of my books the same way people have favorite foods, some prefer steak, some like chicken, some like red wine, some prefer white and so on.

Never let it bother you and just keep on doing what you love. :)