The relationship between writers and reviewers is without a doubt one of love and hate. As I see it, there are four basic types of book reviewers: friends, haters, lovers, and professionals.
The friend is probably the most complicated reviewer of all. It is absolutely mandatory that they write you a good review. Hence, the word friend. But following having done that, a good friend might shoot you an email and suggest some critiques, or even perhaps that the story wasn’t particularly for them.
And not every book is for every person. That is why we painstakingly work on the back-cover copy, inside flap description, as well as online retail wording that not only catches the eye of the reader but gives a glimpse of what the book is about.
This leads us to the second type of reviewer. The hater. Many of these fall into the category of free book getters. It is a fact that authors and publishers must give away many free advanced reading copies (ARC) in order to garner reviews and buzz.
Many of these ARCs fall into hands of haters, readers who grasp onto a book just because it’s free, not because they’re interested in the content. This leads to (gasp) them disliking the book. There are many reasons to dislike a book, too many to count, so it’s imperative that the reader make a sound judgement based on the information shared by the author and publisher.
Then there are the misanthropes. The ones with a chip on their shoulder, perhaps failed writers themselves, who go for the jugular. I had one such person read the first three books of my Mainely Mystery series. One star. Two stars. One star. The cardinal rule of writers is to not engage with bad reviews. In this case, I thought it necessary to message them asking them to please STOP READING MY BOOKS.
But the haters, luckily, are cast into their own shadows by the lovers. The stranger in the wild who comes across your book and gives a glowing review, and you feel that warmth generated by this appreciation of the pages that you have labored over and brought into the world to be shared. Many of these strangers become almost friends as they begin to pop up with reviews on other books written by the author.
And then there are the professionals. People who do reviews for a living. Women and men who choose a book because they believe they will like the topic. That it looks interesting. That the byline engages their intellect. They more often then not judge the book not by its cover, but by the contents of its pages. A well written review complimenting one of my books is a wonderful sensation to experience.
One of my early reviewers is Grace J. Reviewerlady from the U.K. How can I not be happy when she calls MAINELY POWER ‘a cracking good read’? Grace has continued in reviewing my last seven books and makes me smile with every review. She enjoys my plot, characters, and writing. I enjoy reading her reviews.
Diane Donovan of the Midwest Book Review did her first review for me on LOVE IN A TIME OF HATE, in which she said: “Love in a Time of Hate‘s ability to juxtapose different forces, special interests, and perspectives against the backdrop of both endings and new beginnings will intrigue and delight historical fiction readers—especially those with a particular affection for Louisiana culture.” How could I feel anything but an affinity and closeness with this woman?
And then there is Terri of BooklyMatters who grasps the innards of my books better than any other reader out there. I’ve pondered getting her to write my back-cover copy for me as she’d probably do a better job. “Clay Wolfe, the nattily-dressed, roguishly-charming, ex-Boston-homicide-cop-turned-PI, is unfurling – expanding his reach (both emotionally and professionally) into thornier, darker, and more challenging arenas – a fascinating budding shift for this already top-notch PI crime series.”
The takeaway is that there are always going to be haters out there. Luckily, they are mostly banished by the warmth of the friends, lovers, and professionals.