It's funny. I think I've said this before, but when I started writing, I didn't really think beyond the acceptance letter. Sure, I envisioned my books in print, or at least on the computer, with fabulous cover art and my name in big, bold letters. But that was about as far as I got. I didn't really think of fans... not that I didn't want any, it just wasn't how my brain worked. I'm not sure who I thought would be reading my masterpieces (no laughing, just allow me my delusions), but the word 'fan' never really did cross my mind. And I certainly didn't think about reviews.
But it seems reviews are as anticipated and as nerve racking as those submission letters. Every time I find one, or they send it along directly to my in box, 'cause yeah, they're just givers that way, my pulse quickens and my breathing becomes that raspy wheeze I get at the top of a trail. I can hear my heartbeat echo in my ears and I have that moment of queasiness where I'm not sure whether to open it, or just hit delete. It's similar to the feeling I get when I'm attempting something I know I should be able to do, but am also aware that failure means swift and brutal pain. Anyone who mountain bikes will no this feeling...
But I digress. Anyway, since my first book came out in October 2009, I've gotten a total of three reviews, two of which arrived this week. I'm thrilled to say that, thus far, they're all pretty good. Some where more flowery than others, but it seems that the reviewers all enjoyed reading the book. But it got me to thinking how reviewers actually review a book. Do they have a sort of checklist they follow, marking off required items as they go?
One point for having sympathetic characters... another for believable action... two for making you squirm during the sex scenes, and so on.
Or do they take the South Park spoof on things and sacrifice a chicken and wait to see where the body lands so they can give out a mark?
Okay, I doubt they sacrifice small animals or use herbs or spells to judge a book, but it just seems like such a crap shoot, that I never know what to expect. I've read some great books that got bad reviews and some down-right awful ones that got straight 5's. So what gives?
I know... it's just one person's opinion. But that one opinion can have lasting results. A good review might get a new author some new readers, whereas a bad one could push you to the bottom of the 'try' pile. So how much stock do you put in reviews? I do believe that most reviewers try to be fair and honest, and I respect their position. I also realize how hard it must be to give a bad review. I don't think most folks like to point out flaws, so criticizing a book can't be an easy task. I'm just not sure my heart can take the bated anticipation.
Anyway, this all started because I got a nice review from Jo at Joyfully Reviewed for Centrefold. Now Joyfully Reviewed isn't like the other review sites I've seen. They don't have hearts or stars or sighs or dancing divas. They just give honest opinions, and I kind of like that. It allows readers to judge the book for themselves, with the knowledge that the reviewer either liked or disliked a novel, without stereotyping it to a 3 out of 5 or a 4.5 out of 5. (Of course, getting 4.75/5 for Healing Hands was awesome:). So here's what Jo had to say about Centrefold...
The holidays become erotic and dangerous when three lovers track down a killer. Centrefold brings Scarlet, Roman and Aiden together at a holiday gathering for a sexual magazine where the headline is murder. The opening chapter shows Scarlet and Roman together are an explosive mix, but when they came back together and Aiden is added to the mix, explosive isn’t even close enough to what happened between them. I loved watching as Scarlet discovered two sexy men devoted to her are even better than one, and how loving and protective Roman and Aiden both were of Scarlet. Centrefold is erotic and sensual while having just enough of a touch of danger to keep it unpredictable and engaging.
You can read the entire review here.
Of course I read this and thought, "So, did she like it?" But I think it's an interesting way at looking at a review. Give a general, yeah, I loved this part, and let the reader fill in the rest. Because in the end, we all have our own opinion... but I'm happier than a pig in poop that they've come back on the positive side.
Here's to more "positive" reviews and to my heart withstanding the strain...and I thought submitting was the hard part.
Romancing life...one adventure at a time.