Don’t Believe Your Own Press or The Case For Deciding Whether To Read Your Reviews – #31WriteNow – #ASMSG

When I first published my book, I was like a proverbial kid in a candy story when good reviews began to roll in. After a horrible first start at GoodReads, Amazon readers actually reviewed the story, not the title. They also didn’t hate on the fact that I chose to do a parody/pastiche of Fifty Shades of Grey. Any reader who knows anything about form and genre knows that this is allowed. Don’t they? Otherwise we wouldn’t have Ulysses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, or even Fifty Shames of Earl Grey, just to name a few.

50SoJF - CoverI have an amazing base of readers who get what I was trying to do with this story–put a little diversity in a popular erotic romance and poke fun at some things that, as an African American woman, used to totally piss me off. Like the use of the terms “Jungle Fever” and “Ghetto.” I wanted to show readers that people are not always a product of their environment. You can take the hood out of the girl–well most of it. I also used the pop culture references and the fairies to infuse the story with humor that bordered on the ridiculous, sort of like that old HBO sitcom Dream On.

My goal was to strike a precarious balance in Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever, because I didn’t want to go to extremes on either end of the spectrum. I honestly didn’t want to offend anyone, but I should never have been so naïve. “You can’t please all of the people all of the time” is sage advice, or real talk as we like to say these days.

I found out in short order that my balance wasn’t precarious enough. While for the most part, my reviews skew good, I get the rare one or two rating. Usually these are from people who are 1) offended by the title, 2) rushing to judgment, 3) biased for reasons both known and unknown, 4) determined not to like it because I deigned to spoof Fifty Shades of Grey, 5) editors in their own minds, but really don’t have a clue what bad editing looks like (no, it is not the odd typo). There are other groups, but there are so few of them that don’t get a category.

When you’re a new writer–and a minority of veterans, I understand–you tend to take reviews personally. I decided early on I wouldn’t do this. In fact, when I got my first one rating, I celebrated with a blog post because I felt it was a momentous occasion. That less-than-stellar rating validated me as an author, because I knew that all writers get bad reviews. Some books, as well-written as they are, are not the literary tastes of all readers. Readers feel compelled to tell you and the world when this is the case. That will likely never change.

As I have interacted with other authors, both Indie and traditionally published, I’ve found that writers have varying ways of dealing with reviews. While some read each and every one and let them roll off their backs, some read every one and agonize over them, analyzing the nuance of every sentence and the words contained within. Some writers are deeply offended by bad reviews and others couldn’t care less.

Then there is the camp of authors who don’t read their reviews at all. These are the ones that fascinate me most. Their reasons for doing so vary, but I find most do so for either one of two reasons 1) they don’t want to be that writer who believes their own press (reviews, if you will), and 2) they don’t want what’s there to mess with their creative muse or mojo as we writers like to call it. I am an author who falls in the later camp, but I also find myself torn over this issue. While I want to read all my readers reviews and emails out of appreciation for purchasing and reading my book, I find myself often getting distracted by things that really shouldn’t matter.

Master w WhipOften it is the reviews or emails I don’t understand that keep me thinking about them. Reviews that say things like, “your characters are too ghetto,” or “your characters aren’t ghetto enough,” or “there is too much ebonics in this story (newsflash: there is a difference between ebonics, vernacular, and slang).” I particularly love the ones that say, “this story is poorly edited,” because my story has gone through two rounds of spectacular editing, and if there are any typos in there, they are entirely my fault. It is because my eyes have played tricks on me when I’m going through and accepting and rejecting the changes from my editors. (And if another author or reader notices any of these in my book, please point them out to me.)

However, the granddaddy of them all is the “I could not finish reading this book, but I’m going to give you a one, anyway.” This really doesn’t merit any expounding on because, well . . . it’s like filling out a customer service survey for a product or service you’ve never sampled or experienced. How do you know what your rating would be, since you didn’t really try that product or service?

I had been toying with the idea of not reading reviews at all anymore, but I felt like that would be a slight to the many readers who’ve read and enjoyed my book. So my compromise is this: when I’m in the throes of writing and trying to meet a deadline, I will not read my reviews for fear of stalling my creativity. However, when I’m not working on a deadline or going through a severe case of writer’s block, I will read every review and email I get, because I refuse to let an opinion in the minority negate the validation that so many other readers have given my book.

Blogger Book Fair! (I’m Participating With 89 Other Authors, So Far!)

© Gkuchera | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images
© Gkuchera | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Check in to the Blogger Book Fair,
and book your trip to far away places!

July 22-26, 2013

Authors and Book Bloggers,

Sign ups for the July 2013 Blogger Book Fair will close on June 15 at midnight central time, so get your registrations in to participate!

As of 5/31/2013, we have:

Authors: 89
Books: 233
Bloggers: 14

If you haven’t yet registered, you can find all of the information on the Blogger Book Fair page.

  1. Check out the Code of Conduct
  2. Fill out either the Author Sign Up form or the Blogger Sign Up form (Deadline June 15)
  3. Kayla will match everyone with hosts and send out this information to you after sign-ups close
  4. Check out the events–all authors are eligible to participate in the events, and if you have an event you’d like to host, just fill out the simple Event Sign Up Form–all of this information can be found on the Events! page (Deadline July 8).
  5. If you’re interested in hosting a giveaway to drive traffic to your site, sign up via the Giveaway Sign Up form (Deadline July 15).
  6. And if your book will be FREE or $0.99 for the duration of the Fair, you can sign up on the Free and $.99 Book Sign Up Forms (Deadline July 15).


as of 5/31/2013

Art Fiction Gala hosted by Lucie Smoker

Does your fiction promote the visual arts–through featuring an artist, painting, sculpture, performance art, etc? Then, consider entering Lucie’s Art Fiction Gala.
The Art Fiction Gala is a virtual celebration of fiction that highlights the visual arts. Dress up in your finest, pick up some friends–a bottle of wine–and sample mind-blowing fiction that crosses the line between literary and visual art. Plus a gallery of art featuring reading.
More information & entry instructions

Three Wishes hosted by Kirstin Pulioff

Introduce your characters to the world.
Kirstin Pulioff invites you to ask your main character, “If you found a magic genie lamp, what would be your three choices?
More information & entry instructions

Flash Fiction Challenge II hosted by Thomas Winship

Get ready to exercise your flash fiction muscles.
For the Flash Fiction Challenge II, Thomas Winship will provide an opening line.
From there, entrants will craft a flash fiction piece of approx 500 words. Entries will be displayed on Thomas’ blog Vaempires during the BBF, spread out evenly across the five days, in order of receipt.
More information & entry instructions

Snapshot Synopsis Contest hosted by Fel at The Peasants Revolt

Challenge: chisel your synopsis down to 50 words or less.
Voting will be open throughout the fair for visitors to vote on their favorite Snapshot Synopsis.
More information & entry instructions

Reader’s Choice Awards hosted by Sherri at Shut Up & Read

All books registered for the Blogger Book Fair are automatically entered into the running for the Reader’s Choice Awards. Voting will be open from July 22 to July 25.
More information

Indie Soap Box Files hosted by Shah Wharton

Take a turn on the Soap Box.
Shah invites speculative fiction writers to write a guest post about being an indie (or hybrid) writer.
More information & entry instructions
Restrictions: Speculative fiction writers only

Monster Menagerie hosted by Noree at Trip the Eclipse

What’s your favorite monster or supernatural creature?
Feature your creature in a flash fiction piece (500-800) words to be featured on Trip the Eclipse. Visitors will vote on their favorite piece.
More information & entry instructions

Ways to Help:

Blogger Book FairDonate to the Blogger Book Fair via the BBF Donation Fund. To help get the word out about BBF, we would like to place ads on Facebook, Goodreads and other places, but to do, so we need a little help. We’d also like to have some BBF sponsored giveaways, so money donated would also go toward prizes. NO MONEY WILL BE KEPT BY ANY ORGANIZER OR PARTICIPANT.

Spread the word! Share the Fair on your social media accounts and show off the Blogger Book Fair logo in your blog’s sidebar.

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