1. Reviewers are real people. Real people have a variety of preferences, preferred genres, and writing styles. Just because one reviewer doesn't like your book so much, doesn't mean that all reviewers will feel the same way.
2. Reviewers are real people. They have bad days and good days.
3. Reviewers are real people. It's not all that easy to read a book, keep track of the characters, sort out the plot, identify the book's good points and its not-so-good points, and then write a competent, clear report. We're grateful for the book lovers who are willing to perform this service for authors and readers, aren't we?
Well, sometimes we are and sometimes we aren't.
Here are four nice quotes from the reviews of The Desert Hedge Murders I've received so far:
From Mary Elizabeth Devine for reviewingtheevidence.com:
"The book is told from alternate points of view -- first person by Sylvia and third person focusing on her clairvoyant brother, Willie. That sort of shift is often difficult to handle, but it works out very nicely in this case."
From Lesa Holstine at Lesa's Book Critiques:
"Since the Flippers need to return to Oatman a couple of times, Stoltey has the opportunity to capture the town with all of its charms. ...Sylvia's reactions to the wild burros that actually roam the streets is priceless."
From Harriet Klausner:
"The story line is as fast as Freda the amazon drives her bike and never slows down even when the seniors are a bit tired. Fans will enjoy this zany Nevada-Arizona whodunit."
And from Caryn St. Clair at armchairinterviews.com:
"...there were enough of references to their first adventure to pique my interest so I am going to look for the first book, The Prairie Grass Murders."
And that, my writerly friends, is called selective perception, because there were also less than favorable comments in a couple of those reviews. Each of these reviewers focused on very different aspects of the plot. Each focused on a different character or characters.
Mary said, "She [Sylvia] keeps saying that she realizes what she's doing is stupid but that her pig-headed personality makes her do it anyway. Sorry. Admitting you know something is stupid is no excuse for stupidity."
Lesa says, "Willie, with his lovable quirks, is a more likable character [than Sylvia]."
Harriet added that the story is "...over the top of Hoover Dam," but hey, I decided to take that as a compliment.
Caryn, bless her heart, went very easy on me.
In addition to the review copies sent out by my publisher, I mailed an additional ten or so. As a result, I'm hoping for a few more reviews before mid-September. Lots of feedback gives me a better sense of what's working and what needs to be improved.
Does a negative comment hurt my feelings? Yes, sometimes. But it doesn't last very long. All I have to do is think of all the novels I read and how often I find something I'd pick on if I were to write reviews. If I'm not tough enough to take criticism, then I'd better go back to watching television and crocheting afghans. No risk there.