Bad Reviews Are the Best: From a Reader’s Viewpoint

Quill pen and lettersIn my last post I addressed how bad reviews from readers can help us as writers. Now I’d like to talk about how those reviews can be helpful to readers. I realize I’m taking the risk of sounding like a major downer here, but bear with me. If you are anything like me, and I suspect many of you are, you are a busy person and you don’t get to read for pleasure as much as you’d like to. So when you do read for pleasure, you don’t want that time wasted by reading something that just doesn’t float your boat. You don’t just blindly grab any book; you want to do some research first.

This is where negative reviews can be helpful. Good reviews, usually, just aren’t as detailed. “Best book ever…loved it,” followed by crickets chirping, is just not helpful to us. And often, if you click on the reviewers’ names, you may see that the review you’re reading is the only one they’ve ever written. Um, yeah, #friendofauthor. Hey, I have my own #friendofauthor reviews (Love you guys!) But negative reviewers usually love nothing better than to tell you exactly why they didn’t like it, or were lukewarm about it.

Of course, you have to weed through them and exclude the silly, immature readers, the ones who just want to be mean for whatever reason, and those who are wrongly critiquing the physical condition of the book instead of the story itself. Of the ones that are left, truly look at what they have to say. Sometimes their grievances may not be things that would bother you. They wanted more action; you prefer a slower, contemplative pace. The book was too clean and tame for them; you love clean and tame. But if, review after review, readers are finding a mystery too predictable, a romance too cheesy, a historical full of inaccuracies, well, that’s why we have such things as reviews, to help us decide if we want to read a book or not. Trust your own instincts when reading those reviews. And happy reading!

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