Praise and criticism seem to me to operate exactly on the same level. If you get a great review, it’s really thrilling for about ten minutes. If you get a bad review, it’s really crushing for ten minutes. Either way, you go on. — Ann Patchett
Book reviews go hand-in-hand with publishing a book. On the one hand, potential readers want to know both the content and the quality of a prospective book. On the other hand, most authors would like to receive honest feedback from their audience. Balancing the merits of book reviews can be a complicated process.
- Do book critics always hit the mark?
- Can readers rely on another person’s opinion?
Sometimes the answer is yes and other times it is no.
I have been extremely disappointed by 5 star books and pleasantly surprised by books with mediocre reviews. Thus, I am leery of relying exclusively on book critics. Instead, I trust my impression of the overall content and the track record of an author. Buying a book written by a first-time author is trickier. My gut instincts usually lead the way.
As a first time author, I realize that my potential audience may depend more on other people’s feedback to decide whether to purchase my book. Looking at a cross section of commentators will hopefully shed sufficient light. While I realize that the range of responses will vary from person-to-person, I hope that a less than stellar review will not dissuade anyone from considering my book.
When I decided to publish my memoir, May This Be the Best Year of Your Life, I chose not to pay for any reviews. A complimentary copy of my book was the only compensation. I realized that this would open the door to a wide variety of comments from mediocre to superlative and potentially limit the total number of reviewers. I prefer to avoid biased comments and unnecessary costs.
Like Ann Patchett, I am not going to become overly obsessed with any reviews that I receive. I will read the evaluation, take heed of the constructive criticism, and move forward. For the ones that understand my intended messages, I will pat myself on the back. If a reader misses key elements, I can only shrug my shoulders. I realize that not everyone is going to comprehend all of the threads that are woven throughout my story.
Today, May This Be the Best Year of Your Life is being reviewed by Miriam Plotinsky at Chick Lit Central. Unlike previous reviewers who focused on the lessons that I learned and the positive aspects of my journey, Miriam highlights some of the negative aspects and questions why I didn’t select a more pessimistic title. While her perceptions are different from my intentions, I realize that some people will not be able to connect with what I am trying to express. Even though I feel that she missed some of the key elements of my book, I’m not going to suppress her opinion or others who may have differing opinions. I welcome all constructive comments and feedback.
Miriam is an English and creative writing teacher. She lives in the DC/Metro area with her husband and three kids, who occasionally give her the time she needs to write and eat sushi.
I want to thank Chick Lit Central for including a book review on their site.
Check out my book giveaway on Goodreads. Sign up by February 4 and be eligible to win a book.