Obsessing over reviews

27 February 2014 09:00

I’ve been getting a number of 3-star reviews for Gift of the Destroyer lately. Essentially, these reviews amount to "it’s a good story, but I have issues with <insert valid criticism here>" or "excellent story, but". Some of these reviews hit a bit of a nerve, the first was followed by some Twitter venting:

https://twitter.com/JSteenbeeke/status/432573349387304960

Because it’s true. That book went through something like 6 revisions (with proofreaders inbetween each) before I even published it in 2011, and I even released two newer editions after intensive professional editing (the final one included the switch to the Mike Gauss cover), so I think my stance in that tweet was fair. The next 3-star review had a milder response:

https://twitter.com/JSteenbeeke/status/435685301265379328

I generally don’t respond to reviews, good or bad, but in this case I felt I needed to make an exception. I thanked the reviewer for writing the review, and apologized for the lack of polish the reviewer had experienced. I offered free copies of The Raven’s Endgame and Hunter’s Chosen in exchange for pointing out the typos. This offer still stands, and is open to anyone, as long as you’re certain you have the most recent edition.

The final 3-star review had an even milder response:

https://twitter.com/JSteenbeeke/status/438024788347723776

Did I have to post this tweet? Probably not, and I think it’s best if I refrain from posting about reviews in the future. While it does feel a bit therapeutic to be able to vent them in this way, it isn’t helping anybody.

But why am I so worried about these reviews anyway? These weren’t 1-star reviews. They were 3-stars, which is generally understood to be a neutral review, but each reviewer specifically mentioned that they thought the story had potential. This is in line with other 3-star reviews I’ve received. Sure, they lower my average, which is still hovering around 4 stars, but that’s about it. And to be honest, Gift of the Destroyer isn’t my best book, which I suppose is true for any author who has more than one book. I didn’t really know anything about story structure until after I had already published the book, so what I’m really interested in, is what these 3-star reviewers think of The Raven’s Endgame and Hunter’s Chosen. Hell, I’ll throw in free copies if these people contact me for just that.

Having a large amount of less-than-positive reviews may hurt the entire series (The Raven’s Endgame and Hunter’s Chosen make quite a bit less sense without Gift of the Destroyer), but it probably won’t do much for future books in different series (and I have quite a few planned still).

So here’s what I’ll do. I’ll stop obsessing over reviews and focus more on writing and releasing other books. And I definitely won’t vent my "review rage" on Twitter anymore.

Now if only I could stop obsessing over sales numbers, but that story will wait until another blog post.