Guest Post by Author Tawdra Kandle

Reviews: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Writing a compelling guest post can be a challenge, and so last month I asked some friends from my author page to give me a few topic ideas. Someone suggested that I write about how authors feel about reviewers.

That’s a dangerous topic!

Reviewers can be a writer’s best friend or worst enemy. Early in an author’s career, glowing words about her precious just-released book can be heady stuff. Those reviews mean that someone who doesn’t know her actually read the book and liked it. Yep, that’s cloud-floating time.

Of course, sooner or later—usually sooner—someone’s going to read the book and not like it. Those reviews are not so fun; the words sting, because writing, like acting or singing, is such a personal art. It isn’t just words on a page; it’s our heart’s blood. A poor review feels like a judgment on our feelings and how we express them.

One mark of true maturity for authors, I think, is the ability to look at the less-than-wonderful reviews and learn from it, use it to improve her craft.

Reviewers, then, can make a difference. A wise writer appreciates anyone who takes the time not only to read but also to review her book. Those who write their comments thoughtfully, with maybe a little deeper insight into the story, the characters and the theme are rare and fabulous people.

Those are my favorite reviewers. I love to read a review where I can tell that the writer really GOT it—understands where I was going, my intent and the meaning. Even if it’s not a completely positive review, I feel as though I have connected with that person on an unusual level—I’ve succeeded in my aim for the book. This is one way I know how I’m doing my job.

What’s not helpful? A few things spring to mind. Comments that reveal the reviewer had unrealistic expectations of the genre or age range of the book or that she did not actually read the book are frustrating, because the rating of that review weighs as heavily as that of someone who did read it. A vague “I liked it” or “I hated it” doesn’t give me anything to work with, either.

But good or bad, love it or hate it—your opinion counts.

So please—if you’re a reader, be a reviewer.

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