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Friday, April 1, 2011

"Reviewer" uses the term "B-R"...Bodice Ripper!

Okay...not everyone will like what/how I write. Fine. Unfavorable reviews will come. Not everyone will "get" my voice, like it, or love my stories. I can live with that.

Strange thing, though. The romance industry professional review sites we've come to respect have given all my books great reviews. I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about "reader reviews" at one particular (unmentioned) book buying site. This site encourages reader reviews and offers "reader review ratings", etc.

My first book, a paranormal romance titled "Second Sight Dating", became available as a FREE ebook two months ago. Suddenly, I started getting "reader reviews". Sadly, they jolted me out of my great "romance industry reviews" cocoon and tossed me into another whole realm.

  One "reviewer" starts out with "This book is another reason why I don't read bodice rippers!!!!!". Yes, that's how many exclamation points the "reviewer" used. Obviously not a romance fan (more of the "review" leads to this conclusion) why did she read a romance book?

Another starts out "Think twice before you waste your money on this one." It was free...that's how the reviewer got it.

 Another gave her "review"...and then  used the review space to promote her own group: 
"Feel free to join my book group on facebook ( she named a FB group) we have well known and indie authors and avid readers as members who are apart of this group who would love to hear about new books and thoughts."(I spelled/have written everything exactly as this "reviewer" wrote her message)

Two didn't like the ESP aspect of the PARANORMAL romance:
"Plus....the ability was just stupid."
Uh...paranormal means different than normal...and the ability I created isn't normal...does that make it "stupid"?

"I've worked at a dating agency and I couldn't bear this book, the author had done no research and got so many things wrong."
It's NOT a normal agency and wouldn't work like a normal agency would work. It's a PARANORMAL romance and anything goes.

I think two reviewers used actual names and the rest didn't. Some should have edited before posting.  

Did I mention the "reader reviewer" who called the book "tripe"?

Frustration is the best word to describe how I feel. How do you counter this? I went to the Editorial reviews section and added a line or two from each professional romance industry review I received for Second Sight Dating. Even added a note from the author. But unless you click on See All Editorial Reviews, you don't see my message about checking my website for professional reviews.

Another frustrating thing: I had to do all this three times: for print, ebook, and large print versions. All the "reader reviews" appear on all these format pages. If it were available as an audiobook, I'd be adding my information a fourth time.

The book ranks 26th in  this site's Romance - General rating system.

How would you handle this? Confronting reviewers isn't a professional option. Smiling and offering professional romance industry reviews seems like a logical choice.


Amber Skyze said...

I just ignore these reviewers. These are usually the frustrated writer wannabees. They can't do it, so they tear apart those who can.
I know it's not easy, but I say ignore them and remember all the wonderful reviews you've gotten.
And as to why did the reviewer read romance when she doesn't like the genre - FREE READ. :)

Tina Donahue said...

I think it's best to ignore bad reviews. No matter how great, bestselling or award-winning your book may be there will always be someone who will trash it. By engaging them in a dialogue about their comments gives them what they want - recognition. By ignoring them, you're saying their take on your story doesn't matter. And really, if you received great reviews from legitimate sites, their take doesn't matter. It's one person's opinion. And probably not a person you'd respect. :)

Anonymous said...

Well, as a reviewer myself, I know how you must feel about these reader reviews.

Personally, I always try to look for the good in a book first and then say what I felt was wrong for me personally. I usually also state that this is my personal opinion and that for someone else it might work.

Still, I agree with the commenters so far, just ignore it. Being nasty is just pain rude and there is no need for that, especially from reviewers.

Just my two penny worth.

in Germany

Linda Kage said...

I'm not sure why readers give a bad review to a book just because it isn't the type of book they like. I'm not a big sci fi fan, but I'm not going to go out and give Jurassic Park a one star just because I didn't understand half the technical stuff they talked about. I just don't read the books that aren't my preffered genre.

It all wants to make you roll your eye tell these people to try reading the freaking blurb BEFORE they get the book. Geesh. Don't like a book with some fun bodice ripping then don't buy or download a freebie BR book!

The reviews that get to me the most are the ones that actually have a good reason to nit pick. Just makes me hunker down in embarrassment and think, oh man, I did do that crappily, didn't I? Yeah, thanks for pointing out all my mistakes for the entire world to see. Appreciate it! :-) Though, honestly, those reviews really do help me with my next story. So actually, I guess I really do appreciate some bad reviews. Weird.

Molly Daniels said...

As a reader who ENJOYED SSD...ignore them. They either a) saw a free read and downloaded it, regardless of the genre, and then felt the need to gripe about it; b) tried to write and failed to be published; or c) didn't understand the 'paranormal' aspect.

Found my 'review':
SSD is by Marianne Stephens, and is available at Cerridwen Press. I did get a little frustrated by the lies/lack of trust/miscommunication, and I did figure out the meaning of certain letters early on, but over all I found it fast-paced and hard to put down! A Recommended Read from this reader:)

See there? I say that trumps the others, LOL:)

And...was this notice of 'bad reviews' just an April Fool on your part?

CJ said...

Without the "Bodice Ripper of the 70's & 80's these "reviewers" would not have all the books they are enjoying today.
As a reader, if I do not like a book, I put it aside and give it another try. If there is still no connection,it goes in the bag for the Used Bookstore or the library. They resale them and use the money to buy more books. If there is glaring mistakes, and after checking that they are mistakes, how about sending an email to the author directly? You all have a contact at the bottom of your website.

Sandy said...


You are in good company. I have read some horrible reviews on some of Nora Roberts books.

Although not intending to do so, I think these comments may very well help your sales. lol Just because people are always curious to know what the fuss is about.

Also, I've heard good reviews don't necessarily help sells.

jean hart stewart said...

Hard to understand anything like this. I remember my first poor review. I nearly collapsed, then reminded myself it was a rarity. I think that's what you've got here. One rarity inspired other mean-spirited people who wish they could write. It all means shame on them. Jean

Marianne Stephens said...

Thanks for your support, everyone!
Molly - not an April Fool's thing...these are actually written.
Thanks for your review!

An author-reviewer confrontation earlier this week led to an all-out online nasty event. That's not how to handle "reviews" an author is unhappy about. Although disappointed in what happened to me, I chose to post the professional romance industry reviews in the hopes that people would check those.
And, ranking #26 for general romance (free) sales means those "reviews" I deemed questionable stirred sales.
Go figure!

Dee Dawning said...

It happens a lot with reader reviews. There really isn't anything you or I can do about it. As long as you have positive reviews to cancel out the negative reviews they shouldn't hurt sales.

I had one reader say my story about how the heroine got pushed into a blind date wasn't believable. In this day and age of shape-shifters and vamps, what could be unbelievable. Another dinged a book of mine because it was first person.

I think these readers form a preconceived idea of what the story is about and if the story don't match the idea, they strike back.

Bobbye Terry said...

In the past, I have "buried" the nasty reviews, asking people I know who have read and liked the book to post their thoughts. That shows there are a whole lot of readers who disagree with the negativity more than finger-pointing.

She said...

Having read Second Sight Dating, I was charmed by it. Ignore those negative reviews. Some people just don't have anything good to say about anything.

Nina Pierce said...

It's a symptom of the world we live in. People seem to want to be mean-spirited especially if they can do it anonymously.

I say it takes a lot of energy to be negative. Why bother?

And sorry about the bad reviews. They are discouraging. It sounds like you did the only thing you could do.

Katalina Leon said...

Marianne it's impossible to share something publicly and not be criticized. If there is something to be learned from a reviewer, great. If not, ignore negative reviews that have nothing constructive to share. It certainly makes me grateful to reviewers who behave professionally and compassionately.

Debra Glass said...

One of mine stated she downloaded my free read in error but made sure to come back on the site and title her review "Trash." I think it was a cover. :-) I bet those steamy scenes are still playing through her head.
I agree with other comments, just ignore them. "Bodice ripper" is probably the only romance novel term that goofball knows.

Regina Carlysle said...

I write erotic romances and find one particular comment very funny. It was a reader comment from a guy who commented that though it was well written it was 'girly and smoochy'. I just had to laugh. He gave it a three. That's fine.

Ann Jacobs said...

I've noticed the "reader" reviews tend to be worse on FREE reads than on ones the readers have to pay for. Possibly this is because the "readers" will try anything free even if they aren't fans of the genre, the author, etc.

That said, I send thanks to professional reviewers and ignore "reader" reviews. My life is too short to let mean-spirited comments get me down.

Adele Dubois said...

I empathize with you Marianne. In the computer age, everyone thinks they can become a writer and everyone with an opinion wants to "review." The bona-fide review sites with trained reviewers are the only ones worth reading.

Big cyber hugs and multiple doses of chocolate--


Sandy said...

I'm going to comment again. I do some reader reviews on my blog as you know, Marianne.

If I read something I really didn't like, I simply wouldn't say anything unless the author wanted me to. I would be nice but would try to be honest, too.

Marianne Stephens said...

Thanks again, everyone. Funny postscript...I just got a check from EC and apparently even "bad" reviews translated into more sales...much bigger check this time (since the Free Read went live!)

India Drummond said...

Honestly, I'd ignore it. Having good industry reviews up is never a bad thing, but you can't counter idiotic reviews. Plus, potential readers can tell those reviews are idiotic, and they won't influence their buying decision.

I understand it's frustrating to not be able to answer back, but don't give them more weight than they deserve.

AnnaM. said...

I think a lot of readers who like PNR actually read reviews before choosing a book and would discount all of those as non-PNR fans. I think they'll be able to tell it wasn't really your book that turned them off.

This is exactly what I just saw happen to an SFR book (God's War) on the Barnes and Nobel site. It was the free ebook on Friday and got so many one star reviews from people who don't like Science Fiction or Romance and wanted a different free book that the rating tanked. When I first saw it the rating was half a star! The people who said they read it seemed to like it. It got great ratings on places where it wasn't free.

I don't know why people do this.

Voirey Linger said...

I have two responses to all reviews. Good ones, I thank the reviewer for their time, bad ones I ignore.

IMO, arguing with a review can turn into the next internet "authors gone bad" kerfulffle in a heartbeat. I don't want to get tagged as that author who can't handle criticism. People who read the reviews are smart enough to realize when a reviewer isn't familiar with the genre.

One step you can take on Amazon: mark reviews such as this unhelpful. The more 'helpful' votes a review has, the higher it appears in the review list. If you and your crit group/friends mark fair-minded reviews as helpful they will float to the top. People who want to know what the bad reviews say will have to take an extra step to get to them, and those willing to take an extra step are often the people who will consider that bashing a romance in a review because you don't like romance means the review is basically an invalid one.

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