Saturday, March 19, 2011

Penelope's Advice To Authors Who Don't Like Beeyotchy Reviewers...

I think this backlash against reviewers is getting a little bit out of hand.

Here's some advice for authors who don't like nasty reviews.....

That book you've been working on? The one that's 397 pages long? Researched, edited and filled with your blood, sweat and tears?

Don't. Publish. It.

That's right. Take the whole thing, and stuff it under your bed, with the dust-bunnies, and those big, fluffy, hideous slippers from Target. And leave it there.

Because I have news for you. If you're gonna get your book published, people are gonna read it. Some folks will love it. And some folks will hate it. And some folks will review it.

Some reviewers will be kind and gracious and lovely and gently suggest that the author "might want to work on her POV changes which were slightly jarring to the reader."

And some reviewers will be snarky-ass beeyotches from hell who think your hero is a metrosexual pansy-ass. And worse.

If you're going to get your book published, grow a pair.

A really, really big pair.

This business is not for the faint of heart. Just ask any sculptor, or painter, or poet, or motorcycle designer, or anyone who is in a creative field and puts his or her stuff out in the public. Some people are nice. And some are not.

Quit yer whining, and belly-aching, and complaining, and threats, and intimidation, and judgments about reviewers who are "doing it right" and "doing it wrong," who's "professional," or "unprofessional," or just plain mean.

Get your ass in the chair, and write your book. Own it. Believe in it. Take the good with the bad.

Here are your choices: Live in a shack in the mountains of Vermont, write your books on an old-fashioned typewriter, and keep your manuscripts hidden away from humanity. Or....send out query letters. Put yourself on the line and open to rejection. From agents, from publishers, from reviewers at RT magazine, from Joe Schmo Reader at Amazon.

Look at it this way. If one person reads your book, and likes it....that is a very cool and amazing thing. Chances are that more than one person will read your book and like it. You have created something that entertained, touched, evoked, aroused, tortured, made a difference. So what if someone else didn't like it.

Some folks think Picasso is a God, and some people think he's a hack.

If you've decided to become a romance author, suck it up. Criticism is part of the job-description.

Reviewers are no different than anyone else. Nor are authors. Some of us are nice and some are blunt and some are honest and some are ass-kissing groupies. It would be a boring world if we all had the same opinions, and expressed them in the same way.

And for those of you who think I'm being harsh, I'm an author, too. I've gotten bad reviews, bad ratings, been given advice such as "You'll never get this book published," "You really should take the Christmas out of this story," and "Readers don't like bearded heroes." It made me work harder, it made me more determined, and it made me realize that....yep, some readers don't like bearded heroes. They shouldn't read my book. They probably won't like it.

But some folks do.

Enough with the mud-slinging, reviewer-dinging, sad song-singing. (High fives all around for that one! Woo!). Let's just get back to writing books, shall we?



Tori said...

Brilliant Penelope!! You cut right down to the bone and told it like it was. "Life is not fair and whoever told it was lied to you."

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...


Mary Anne Graham said...

Great advice but it's easier in principle than practice.

Even though I tell myself that my books, my over-the-top writing style is a love it or hate it thing, it's still tough when I get a bad review - especially a bad customer review.

With the last one on Amazon (2 stars, eek.) I went in and left a nice comment thanking the reader for taking the time to do the review and hoping she tried and liked something else of mine better. Most of me even meant it.

But I've learned from those reviews. Like one that suggested a certain book was good but might've been great if it had been a little shorter. I'm keeping my new one just that, much shorter, thanks to learning from that review.

Perhaps it's sad but I think we learn more from the beeyotchy reviews than from the nice ones.

Quacking Alone

All Day All Night Romance Divas

Sophia (FV) said...

Well said Penny. It would be boring if we all had the same opinion. Everyone has different tastes and thank goodness. Can you imaging publishing a book that EVERYONE hated? LOL.

Rita said...

GO Penny!
Actually, I sometimes read books AFTER reading a bad review. I am interested to see if opinions differ and if the reviewer says "XYZ turned me off" but it's a total turn on for me, I'll check it out. So where on one hand I might not even give someones book the time of day, on the other, a 'bad' review would make me feel the need to go out and purchase or download 'just to see'. Authors should (and for the most part, are) happy for any exposure their book can get.

When that (ahem) fiasco erupted a few weeks ago between the review sites and the author who singled them out in her blog about 'unprofessional reviewers', one of the commenters (before all the comments were deleted =/ ) said something I think every author should live by:
"The correct response to a bad reviews is: "Thanks you, may I have another"

I rolled on the floor with that one!

Great Post! <3

Heidenkind said...

You should turn the line about growing a pair into a motivational poster. ;)

Penny Watson said...

Thanks, Tori!

Julie....and hallelujah!

Penny Watson said...

Mary is my advice to you. Do not comment on reader reviews. Just let them be. Especially at can get very, very nasty over there. Even the good ones. If you ask a blogger to write you a review, then it's OK to leave a comment on her blog saying "thanks for taking the time to read and review my book....I appreciate it" even if she didn't like it.

Finally, one reader will tell you your book is too short. The next one will tell you your book is too long. If you listened to everyone's opinions you would go out of your mind. If you notice that the majority of reviewers are commenting on the same thing (this book is too long) then it might be a good idea to check that out. But the bottom line is YOU CANNOT PLEASE EVERYONE. Do not even try.

Best of luck to you! Thick skin! Thick skin!

Penny Watson said...

Hi Fhiction Vhixen! (I will be BDB-ing your name for a while...hee hee!)....

I can imagine that some books dealing with very difficult subject matter could be feeling a lot of hate. But I'm sure that anyone writing a book like that knows what to expect.

Penny Watson said...

Hi Rita! Good point about "no publicity is bad publicity"...even bad reviews will garner attention for a book...sometimes more than good reviews!

Penny Watson said...

Heidenkind...hee hee...something tells me the national RWA wouldn't approve of that!

Barbara Wallace said...

If you're going to get your book published, grow a pair

Best advice! As someone who has received both good, bad and "meh" reviews, I couldn't agree more. Sucky as bad reviews are, they do happen. What bugs me most is those authors (not all thankfully) who feel "entitled" to a good review because a bad one might affect sales. The world simply doesn't work that way. Even with reviews.

And Mary Anne - you're right when you have a strong voice, you do tend to get widely varying, either good or either bad, reviews. But I would much rather have a strong voice or an over the top style, then be bland. So kudos to you for being original!

Penny Watson said...

Hi Barbara....nice words of wisdom for Mary Anne. Thanks!

Isn't there an AC/DC song called Big Balls? hee hee......

Crystal-Rain Love said...

Well said!

Ella Drake said...

Huh. Do I get bad reviews?
*hits google refresh again*
Um, yep. I guess I do. So what if I check google obsessively? I can stop. Any day now. *hits refresh*

In all seriousness, if the bad reviews get to you, stop using google.

By the time I got published, I'd lived in the world, I'd gotten critiques, I'd gotten rejected, I'd gotten a pair. I can take the bad reviews as long as I can still get that occasional fan letter. Those are golden.

Great points. Well said, as usual!

Penny Watson said...

Hi Crystal-Rain! Thanks! Haven't seen you for a while....hope all is well!

Hi Ella! I have google alerts, too! Sometimes it's good news and sometimes it's bad. And sometimes it's about some other chick named Penny Watson. :^)

Mary Anne Graham said...

Thanks to everyone for their advice and to you, Penelope for the great post. I've now bookmarked your site!

Lindsay said...

I don't recall an AC/DC song by that title but I LOVE the Dan Bern song called Tiger Woods which is about big balls. If you haven't heard it...find a way! The man is genius! That said I know people who hate his music...sounding familiar? Some will love some will not love what you do. In some ways I would take it as a compliment if some people hated my book because I'd look at what other books they hated and say wow I'm a two star rating with _______ insert name of semi-famous author. That's not a bad place to start. No one is about to single out your book as the only book in the world that isn't worth reading. Big balls are indeed needed for this job.

Which is my last point. This is a job for me and if my work told me I sucked at it, my first step would be to find out how to get better instead of quitting and then running over to my fuzzy slippers to weep.

Penny Watson said...

Hi Lindsay....It is not easy at the beginning. It's all right to curl up in the fetal position and cry when you get a bad review. (Just don't bitch out the reviewer in a public forum). But eventually, you need to sit up and say "That dude didn't like my book. But some other dude did." Then, get over it and start working on the next WIP.

Barb said...

Excellent post! There has been alot said about this topic, but you have cut to the chase! I wish authors (and as you put it, creative people) would simply grow a pair and allow people to have an opinion. Just don't pay attention if you don't want to hear what they say!

Penny Watson said...

Hi Barb!--I have a problem w/'s uncool for authors to intimidate readers about expressing their honest opinions. It goes with the publishing territory, for better or worse.

Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

What I said on Book Binge:

When you put a book out there, you're expecting people to pay for it.

Harlequin doesn't charge one price for a newbie writer's SuperRomance and another for Sarah Mayberry's SuperRomance. If it's not up to standard, it's not up to standard.

I read book reviews to help guide my book purchases, and if reviewers are giving four stars to a newbie just to be kind, and three stars to Mayberry even though her book is better, then I'm sorry, but I'm going to be pissed about that.

There’re a lot of popular reviewers I completely ignore these days, because they’re so busy being kind and kissy kissy with the authors that they never give an honest review to anything they read.

Penny Watson said...

Just left a long-winded message that Blogger ate like a grilled cheese sammie. Let's try this again....

Penny Watson said...

OK, seems to be working now.

Anonymous...I'm not sure if you are talking about me in this post. I don't give easy grades to newbies "just to be kind." I have quirky reviewing habits (including, but not limited to, loving bearded heroes, enjoying books w/ weenie dogs, hating excessive violence against women and children, and being a big wussy about certain topics). People who follow this blog know these things about me, and make fun of me much to my own amusement.

I wrote this post because I was upset that certain authors were dinging reviewers. Now it seems like reviewers are dinging reviewers. Jay-sus.

Is it too early for a martini?