On Bad Reviews (a guest post by author Samantha Durante)

Enjoy this guest post by Samantha Durante, author of the book Stitch (YA paranormal/dystopian romance). Here she talks about bad reviews. I’m sure many readers wonder how authors feel when their books receive negative reviews. I, for one, hate giving bad reviews and I always try to be diplomatic and fair whenever a book falls below my expectations. I always try to make it balanced and fair and I make sure to say the review is only from my point of view and others may not share it. Anyway, here’s our chance to hear it from an author who’s had her share of negative reviews. :)


On Bad Reviews

by Samantha Durante
“endless babble…nonsense really…” “boring dialogue” “far fetched and stupid” “I just couldn’t connect” “I felt nothing” “HUGE issues with this book” “forced myself to finish”
OUCH. Those are actual comments from the handful of bad reviews that Stitch has received, and I’ve got to tell you, as much as I try not to let them, those words still sting.
The fact of the matter is that bad reviews are an inescapable part of being a writer. Ask any author, and they will gladly tell you that you need a thick skin to write (or, at least, to share your writing with people who have access to the internet!). Even the best/most successful books ever written have their fair share of 1-star reviews: To Kill a Mockingbird? 88. The Great Gatsby? 104. Harry Potter? 95. Twilight? A whopping 738.
So it’s inevitable. If you write a book, there’s going to be some subset of people out there who are going to absolutely hate it. As an author, you may wonder, how do you handle this? Recently I was privy to a LinkedIn discussion where one member had just received her first 1-star review, and she posed this exact question. What do you do after receiving a bad review?
My advice? Suck it up and move on.
I know, I know, easier said than done. But really, what else can you do?
Despite well-intentioned counsel to the contrary from authors far more experienced than me, I’ve read every single word that readers have posted about my book online. Why do I do this to myself? There are a few reasons: 1. It’s my first book and I need the feedback in order to improve. 2. Of course I want people to like the book – I am human, aren’t I? – so I want their yay or nay, no matter how much it hurts. 3. I work from home and spend most of my time talking to a cat – I need the excitement, people!
So, I ignore the butterflies in my stomach and hold my breath and peek apprehensively at each new review through parted fingers like a terrified child watching Saw XLVII (or whatever one we’re up to now…), but I just can’t control the compulsion – I have to know what the readers think.
And most of the time, I’m pleasantly surprised. At the time of this writing, Stitch has earned 86 reviews on Amazon averaging 4.3 stars, so obviously there are quite a few people out there who truly enjoyed my work. (And yes, those are almost all from strangers – believe it or not, Amazon took down the review my mom wrote!) But every now and then, there’s one person who decides to step up to the mike and proudly declare the same mantra that that irritating little voice in the back of my head insists on repeating whenever I forget to strangle it: “This book sucks!”
And the part that really smarts is that, like most authors, I’m harder on my work than anyone. I’ve spent countless hours enviously consuming yet another great book that I wish I’d had the genius to write, so I know full well what the weaknesses in my writing are. But at some point in the writing process, you need to just say, “f*ck it,” and share what you’ve got with others. Because really, you could revise and revise forever and never love what you come up with, but there’s always someone out there who will appreciate it (even if it’s only your mom :-). So there comes a time when you need to pull the trigger and release that book – flaws and all – and be prepared to face the wrath (or perhaps the reverence!) that’s going to come back at you.
So, I keep reading the reviews and taking what I can – esteem, acceptance, shame – from each one in turn. Perhaps one day I will tire of this, but today is not that day. And in all honesty, I am thankful to those readers who took the time post a negative review. If you wrote any of the words above, please know that I appreciate those words, harsh as they may be, because they’ve taught me some valuable lessons.
In the end, I’m selling a product, and I want my customers to be happy. So whether you loved Stitch or hated it, I want to know why. And don’t get me wrong – I love 5-star reviews as much as the next writer, but the reality is that they’re not always terribly useful in helping me to continue to create something of value. The 1 & 2 star reviews, on the other hand, have made it abundantly clear where I need to improve. And with your help, readers, I fully intend to do so. So thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, good or bad – please know that I welcome them all!

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Thanks to Samantha Durante for this awesome guest post! And guys, if you have time please check out her book Stitch. It’s way better than checking out a selection of custom umbrellas for your collection. You have one, don’t you? I’m kidding. And forcing these silly things, but anyhoo.. check out that great cover, too!

About Stitch
Genre/Keywords: Paranormal Romance, Ghost, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Young Adult, New Adult
Length: 75,000 words (314 pages)
Sample chapters: Ch1-5 (38 pages)
Release date: August 1st, 2012
Purchase links: Amazon ($2.99 Kindle, $9.99 paperback, or free in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library)

Summary

Her heart races, her muscles coil, and every impulse in Alessa’s body screams at her to run… but yet she’s powerless to move.

Still struggling to find her footing after the sudden death of her parents, the last thing college freshman Alessa has the strength to deal with is the inexplicable visceral pull drawing her to a handsome ghostly presence. In between grappling with exams and sorority soirees – and disturbing recurring dreams of being captive in a futuristic prison hell – Alessa is determined to unravel the mystery of the apparition who leaves her breathless. But the terrifying secret she uncovers will find her groping desperately through her nightmares for answers.

Because what Alessa hasn’t figured out yet is that she’s not really a student, the object of her obsession is no ghost, and her sneaking suspicions that something sinister is lurking behind the walls of her university’s idyllic campus are only just scratching the surface…

The opening installment in a twist-laden trilogy, Stitch spans the genres of paranormal romance and dystopian sci-fi to explore the challenges of a society in transition, where morality, vision, and pragmatism collide leaving the average citizen to suffer the results.

About Samantha Durante

Samantha Durante lives in Westchester County, New York with her husband, Sudeep, and her cat, Gio. Formerly an engineer at Microsoft, Samantha left the world of software in 2010 to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams and a lifelong love of writing. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology, Samantha is currently working full time for her company Medley Media Associates as a freelance business writer and communications consultant. Stitch is her first novel. Learn more about Samantha at www.samanthadurante.com.

Facebook: Stitch | Author Samantha Durante
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8 comments

  1. What an excellent post. I’m always curious to know how authors handle bad reviews. I definitely agree with the post. You can’t take the post to seriously because if you do it will eat you apart. Some of the reviews could almost be seen as constructive criticism.The bottom line that matters is that people many still manage to enjoy the book.

  2. Thanks guys! I’m glad you guys like the post. Stitch is my first book, and as a reader I always wondered how authors handled this too, so I thought now that I’ve been on the other side, it might be interesting be share my experience!

  3. Great post, Samantha! I love hearing the authors point-of-view – I can only imagine how difficult it must be to see someone that didn’t enjoy you work, but you’ve got the right attitude :)

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