Welcome to April’s Insecure Writers’ Support Group. Hop over the Alex Cavanaugh’s blog to join us!
Recently a reader friend asked, “How do I write an honest, helpful, negative review?”
Let’s discuss negative reviews. I don’t want to censor reader opinions, but merely state how I can learn best from reviews. I definitely know how frustrating and disappointing the reading experience can be. It has also become so clear to me that no author can please every reader.
As an author, I appreciate negative reviews that 1) offer specific constructive criticism, 2) make me laugh, and/or 3) acknowledge how personal preferences affect reactions.
I suggest getting specific about what’s not working for the reader. The tightness of the writing? Grammar? Pacing of the plot? Realism of characterization? Chemistry between the characters? Too many characters? Implausibility of plot?
Here are some reviews that have taught me to write better:
“There was head hopping in the third person omniscient perspective. Sometimes the same paragraph had perspectives from two different characters.”
(Thank you to two authors for sharing this wisdom about my debut novel With Good Behavior.)
“Grant is a wuss.” (This made me LOL)
“Grant cries too much.” (These reviews informed my characterization of beta men–I don’t want to make them too weak.)
“It was too depressing and covered too many issues.” (I’ve tried to lighten up later books with more humor.)
“It just didn’t work for me because…” (I like when reviewers state how their personal preferences affect the reviews, acknowledging that others might enjoy it but it just didn’t fit for them.)
Some negative reviews are not as helpful:
“This is YA, not NA.” (I get frustrated with this critique of Blocked because the age of the characters is indeed New Adult. Though it’s also my fault for choosing a sexy cover then not delivering the horizontal refreshment.)
Reviews that spoiler the reader or attack the author as a person are also not my cup of tea.