Wednesday, February 28, 2018

YOU MEAN NOT EVERYONE LOVES ME? (OR WHEN THE BONES DON'T SPEAK)



Nancy Mehl is a best-selling, award winning author who lives in Missouri, with her husband, Norman, and her Puggle, Watson.
She’s authored thirty books and is currently writing a new series for Bethany House Publishing. The Kaely Quinn Profiler series will kick off with book one, MIND GAMES, in December of 2018. The last book in her Defenders of Justice series, BLIND BETRAYAL, will be released in the spring. She is also working on a new cozy mystery series for Guideposts, The Mysteries of Martha’s Vineyard.

Readers can learn more about Nancy through her Web site: www.nancymehl.com. She is part of The Suspense Sisters: www.suspensesisters.blogspot.com, along with several other popular suspense authors. She is also very active on Facebook.



YOU MEAN NOT EVERYONE LOVES ME?
(OR WHEN THE BONES DON’T SPEAK.)

Many people think being an author is exciting…and it can be. But it’s also a lot of hard work. Then there’s that other aspect of being published. Your work is out there in the public domain which means there will be…(insert suspenseful music here, like the theme from Jaws) REVIEWS!!!!!

This is the part of writing that can bring joy, laughter, and yes, even tears. Please don’t think all authors have iron hides and that nothing ever gets to us. I’ve wept over a nasty review that came at a low point in my career. You see, an author’s life can be a lot like a roller coaster ride. We may be on the top of the hill one day, but we all know what comes next. The screaming, the crying, the regret that we ever got on this horrible ride! When we’re at the bottom of the hill, gasping for breath and wondering if we’ll survive, an unkind or unfair review can hurt – and hurt a lot. But most of us regroup and get back on the ride, begging to go again. No, we’re not mentally unstable (well, at least some of us aren’t). We’re just determined. And we’ve learned that unfair or mean-spirited reviews are part of the ride. If we can’t take them, we have to get off the roller coaster for good. And that option is even scarier.

There are different kinds of reviews. Let’s talk about some of them.

Unfair Reviews

I had a reviewer from a large publication criticize a Mennonite character because she didn’t sound like a Conservative Mennonite. Uh, maybe because she’d left the community many years before? I asked my publisher if I could write to the reviewer and ask for a correction. The answer was no. It just isn’t done. It may not seem right, but it’s reality. Make a reviewer angry and things could get much, much worse.

As your readership grows, you’ll run into reviewers who feel we want to know how they would have written our books. (We don’t, by the way.) They attack facts and sometimes even give away plot points we don’t want released. This recently happened to me. Besides arguing that my medical information was wrong (I worked with a doctor on this particular point, by the way), this amateur reviewer had several other erroneous “corrections.” Then she mentioned that a particular character survived his ordeal. Not something I wanted readers to know before they read the book! This woman actually called my characters stupid. She is a writer – and a Christian. In this particular case, it took a few author friends to talk me off the ledge. I wanted to confront her, but they convinced me to let it go. In the end, God will have to take care of me. My guess is that her career won’t go far if she spends her time attacking other writers.

E.E. Kennedy who writes wonderful cozy mysteries, shared this about her book IRREGARDLESS OF MURDER: Talk about jumping to conclusions! I got a one-star review from someone who hated my (joking) title so much, she didn't even read the book and on the strength of that prejudice, declared me a dreadful writer! If she had read the first page or two, she would have seen what I was up to! There was nothing to be done. I just had to laugh.

Here's the review in its entirety:

"Really? The main character is an ENGLISH TEACHER?? An English teacher who uses the word "irregardless", despite the fact that "ir" is a redundant prefix? I would not only have to suspend my disbelief, I would have to take it out back and shoot it in the head. Kennedy is a dreadful writer."

Roseanna White, author of A SONG UNHEARD says: “I had one reviewer complaining that my book (set in 1912) included far too many anachronisms--technology and words that would not have been used in 1810. She kept complaining that it was not Jane Austen-esque...never seeming to realize it was set 100 years later!”

Mean Reviews

Author Ann H. Gabhart, author of the recently released THESE HEALING HILLS, shared these “kind” comments made about one of her books. She says: The book in question was one of my Shaker books but I don't remember which one. Anyway, I spotted the review on Christianbook.com. The reviewer said that "Ann Gabhart's book makes me want to wash windows."  I thought the publishers should have grabbed on to that, because it takes a lot to motivate me to wash windows. But everybody likes clean windows!

Another review on Amazon said, "Free is too much to pay for this book."

Oh well, what can you do, but laugh and go on writing?

A review written for Kim Vogel Sawyer, author of the upcoming book, UNDER A PRAIRIE MOON, reads: “This doesn’t happen often, but I simply could not finish this book. The snippy, snarky dialogue between characters grated on my last nerve. I didn’t like any of them. … I suspect that there was going to a redemption and resolution at the end somewhere, but I just couldn’t hang around long enough to wait it out. Thanks (sort of) to [book provider] for providing a complimentary copy of this book.”

Kim says: She tagged it as follows: angry mothers damage daughters, annoying books I could not finish, books I can’t recommend, books I couldn’t finish, damaged family relationships, DNF, family secrets damage relationships, mothers and daughter.

The reason this one tickles me is she takes offense with the characters’ snarkiness but her review is snarky. LOL! I’m still giggling.

From Carrie Stuart Parks, author of PORTRAIT OF VENGEANCE: Here is a deeply insightful review from Sideshow John:

“Lame
 Hate it.”

It’s important to mention that Sideshow John does like (among other things) a folding knife, holster for his Smith and Wessen, brass fish scaler, marine water pump, and sportsman
 hand winch. He felt the cz silver earring stud too big........

If only Carrie had added a character who carried a gun and a knife, liked to fish, and wore a "not too big" cubic zirconia earring!


I received this uplifting review for FATAL FROST: Book one in my Defenders of Justice Series: “Unfortunately, the boring writing makes it dead on arrival. Try again, Nancy--in the meantime, I'll revisit your other books.”

Uh…no thank you????


And our last category:

Funny Reviews

You have to have a sense of humor or you’ll never make it as an author. Although this isn’t an actual review, I think it fits.  

I wrote this for the Acknowledgments page for my novel, GATHERING SHADOWS:

"As always, thanks to Raela Schoenherr and Sharon Asmus. I’m so blessed to have you both in my life – even when the edits are so extensive it makes me think about changing my name to Gertrude and moving to Canada, eh?

"And most of all, my thanks to God who has given me this wonderful opportunity – and kept me from becoming Canadian.

A joke right? I received an email from an angry Canadian reader who vowed to never read another one of my books since I…wait for it…hate Canada. Sigh. Yeah, really.

Here’s another from Carrie Stuart Parks: Well, I simply must share my favorite on THE BONES WILL SPEAK:

“Don't let the title fool you. I couldn't recommend this book. The book title is misleading and has
 nothing to do with the story. There is no speaking bone.”

From Debby Mayne whose upcoming book, HIGH COTTON, will release in March:  

The funniest response to a book I got was a fan letter many years ago. A prisoner said he dug my book LOVE’S IMAGE (Barbour - Heartsong Presents) out of the prison garbage can and read it. He said he fell in love with the heroine because "she's hot," and that he plans to look for someone like her when he gets out of jail. However, he told me the hero was a "wuss" and that he should have fought for his woman. In some strange way, I was flattered by his letter.

From author Brad Whittington, author of THE RELUCTANT SAINT:

From WELCOME TO FRED: “It is not the type of book I enjoy. The author has my same last maiden name is the reason I thought I should try it.”

Then there’s this one:

Stale muffin!

This book's story jumps all over the place like a squirrel trying to find a nut and in this book you will find lotsa nuts.

And finally, a classic from author Gayle Roper, author of the Seaside Romance books:

In one of my Amish books, I mentioned Intercourse, a real town on Rt. 340 in the middle of Lancaster County, PA. A lady wrote and said she'd never read one of my books again because I named a town such a terrible thing. And she'd been letting her nieces read my stuff! 

My husband suggested I send her a postcard from that town.


My final word:

If you think I’m attacking reviewers, you’d be wrong. I was one for several years. Even wrote reviews for three years for the largest newspaper in Kansas. But I refused to write negative reviews. Why? 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” I believe I am to encourage others, not hurt them or dampen their spirits. If I couldn’t write a positive review, I didn’t review the book – or I wrote a synopsis. I never assumed the book wouldn’t appeal to anyone. It’s important to remember that just because you don’t like a book, it doesn’t mean others won’t.

So, what can authors do? How do we survive the dreaded unfair, mean or funny review? If we can’t find anything helpful, we ignore them. To be honest, most of us don’t even read our reviews. It helps us to keep our sanity! Instead, we concentrate on the good ones. Besides, the truth is, a mean-spirited review usually reflects badly on the reviewer – not the author.

As you can clearly see, bad reviews are part of the ride. Not our favorite part, but they can’t be avoided. We just need to hang on tight and ride to the end with our joy and our hope intact. It can be done.

I’m giving away a copy of my upcoming book, BLIND BETRAYAL to someone who leaves a comment, along with their contact information.

As long as you promise not to leave a bad review. (Wink, wink!)

39 comments:

  1. Love this! I'm sure I have bad review, but I really don't know because unless my publicist sends me a review to read I never see them. I.Can't.read.them. Thanks for a funny look behind the scenes.

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  2. Oh wow. I am like you - I don't leave a bad review because I know there is someone out there that it will appeal to, just not me. I do write reviews for the ones I love. It is so sad the ones that are clueless or really mean. Truth is, most of us know when reading those "bad" reviews that the writer of those reviews obviously has personal issues and is taking it out on a poor author. I have to admit half the time those kinds of reviews make me want to read the book just to see what the fuss is all about!
    lattebooksAThotmailDOTcom

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  3. If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. I've read books by most of the authors listed in this post and I enjoyed them all! lhanberry1(at)gmail(dot)com

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  4. There's a celebration in store for every author upon his or her first 1 star! They usually come with a lame excuse, don't you think? Loved these samples, Nancy. I often read bad reviews of authors I love, just to remind myself that everything is subjective. Even so, I avoid them when I'm struggling to write a currant story and my defenses are low!

    I myself don't review because it's a form of writing I can't master, unless you like 'I loved it!' as a review.

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  5. Interesting article! I can only remember writing one bad review & that was not about the story, but about too many details about some of the horrible foreign rituals in a biblical based novel. I just couldn't finish the book! I will think twice before writing another bad one. mary-hart@att.net

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  6. Great post and I got one one-star review on one of my children's books because "a whole Indian tribe couldn't be Christian". Online I saw this critiquer is known for giving one-star reviews. I've loved your earlier books, would love to win and read this.

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  7. I have enjoyed all of your books! Definitely good reviews! jarning67(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  8. Nancy, I love your books! I review every book I read and I don’t ever remember leaving anything lower than a four. The reason? I only read books I know I’ll enjoy.
    Gail Hollingsworth
    tumcsec(at)gmail(dot)com

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  9. This made me laugh out loud. Thanks for sharing it!

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  10. I love your sense of humour in regards to "lame" reviews. �� My daughter's an aspiring writer, and recently had her first story published in clubhouse magazine. I'm letting her read this article, to prepare her for what's ahead! ��Florence Barkman. florencebarkman(at)gmail(dot)com

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  11. I don't leave bad reviews either. Can't imagine how hard it is to write a book! thedanielsr(at)comcast(dot)net

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  12. Loved this entry. I've my share of "bad" reviews, and some of them just didn't make sense. I've read a lot of books and given a lot of reviews. If I don't care for the book, I leave it alone. Sometimes I wonder about the insecurity of the person who writes horrible reviews. Do they want the author to hurt as much as they do? marthalrogers(at)sbcglobal(dot)net.

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  13. I love this post! There hasn't been very many books I haven't liked. But, I'm with you, if I don't like the book I don't write a review and when I try to be positive.

    Authors: The way I look at the reviews is that they are positive ones than there are negative. Although, I do imagine the few negative ones do hurt. I lov ethe work of the ones mentioned above!

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    Replies
    1. Oops! I for to leave my info.
      dudllonlysis(at)aol(dot)com

      Delete
  14. My favorite one of my books said I didn't know Silicon Valley at all. I have literally lived her before it WAS Silicon Valley. People have their own ideas and you never know what a reader brings to a book. A lot of times their own baggage reflects how they read something. But I'm not everyone's cup of tea and that's okay. I'm jealous of Debby Mayne's heroine having a reader fall in love with her. LOL

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  15. What a terrific article. So far my books have only been reviewed by my friends so, thankfully, they're good reviews. lindaloegel@gmail.com

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  16. Thank you for the sharing about reviews, it was interesting. Blessings, Kristie tklovenestataoldotcom

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  17. I enjoy reviewing and helping promote good Christian fiction. πŸ™‚
    smincer10(at)gmail(dot)com

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  18. It's amazing what some people will say about a book! I try hard to keep my reviews positive even if it's not one I particularly enjoyed. We all have our own preferences. I can't imagine leaving a bad review for one of yours. So far I've loved all of them I've read.

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  19. This is the funnies thing I've read. Love your books, but as I'm in the UK, you may not want to choose me as you'll need to sell your firstborn to pay for postage. Keep writing and letting us enjoy your books, and your reviews

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  20. Great information presented in an entertaining way! It is helpful to be forewarned, if in fact, one day, my book gets reviews.
    Dea Irby, deairby@gmail.com

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  21. Nancy, one of the earliest admonitions given to published authors is the one against reading your reviews (and certainly not responding to them, no matter how we want to). Nevertheless, we all sneak a peek from time to time. The thing that helps me most is what I was told years ago, before I began to write fiction: No matter how hard I try, I will not be universally loved and respected. Oh, how applicable in all walks of life, but especially for authors. Thanks for posting this.

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  22. Wow, I have learned to not not read a book because of a handful of negative reviews. Likewise, I won't read a book if I can't leave a positive review. Not only do I not like to leave one, life is too short to read something I know ahead of time or very early in the book that I don't like it. Reviews are so subjective, it would be hard to have what might feel like a job performance review in the eyes of the world! Authors have much hard work! Before even doing research and writing, you all have to blog, be active on social media, Facebook parties...yes, I would love to read your new book! jeaniedannheim (at) ymail (dot) com

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  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  24. Fun post, Nancy. Enjoyed smiling over everybody's not so good reviews. But the same as you, I do appreciate those who take the time to review books. Reviews can really help out an author in this internet book buying world. And it's not all that easy to write a review that tells what the reader thinks about the story without giving away too much information and in just a paragraph or two. That takes skill, so thank you, reviewers, for those reviews. Even the ones that make us laugh or cry. One thing for sure, it takes all kinds of readers to like the all kinds of books out there.

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  25. Great post, Nancy! Our words have power. May we use them to bring life not death.

    psalm103and138atgmaildotcom

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  26. Great post, Nancy. I enjoyed reading it. I have reviewed a few books, but reviews are not an art form l have mastered.

    linlee822[at]gmail[dot]com

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  27. Wow. What an eye-opening post. I’ve tried to be kind and encouraging, even when I don’t connect with the book. I did get a comment from the author of the book on a recent review I posted that I’ve been mulling over. I felt a bit offended by the author’s comments though I tried to be as encouraging as possible for a book I didn’t enjoy. It took me quite awhile to compose that review and wasn’t sure how to handle the negative comeback. It’s kind of reverse of what the authors went through on this post, I suppose!
    mindyhoungATmsnDOTcom

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  28. I really enjoyed your post Nancy. I always try to find the positive when I am leaving a review because I appreciate the time and effort that the author put into getting their story out there. If I truly didn't like the book I just don't leave a review. My parents always taught me to treat others as I want to be treated and I want reviewers to be kind. :) Thanks for the giveaway too.

    momrain(AT)aol(DOT)com

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  29. Great post, I have enjoyed all of your books that I have read. I guess some people are not happy unless they have something negative to say .They are probably not happy about anything. Thanks for the opportunity to win your new book. rose blackard (at) gmail (.) Com

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  30. Fantastic, and encouraging, article to read as a first time writer. Thank you.

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  31. Love your books,Thanks for a chance to win

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  32. I've already won a copy of Blind Betrayal on Facebook so no need to enter my name Nancy.

    Reviews, yeah I've seen a lot of ridiculous ones myself! You wonder how people come up with some of the things they write in them. I tend not to read too many myself because of this reason. I've also read reviews on a book that was rated 5 stars and I didn't think it deserved two, but I think it's because we all have book preferences and tastes. What appeals to one reader doesn't necessarily appeal to another. :-)

    I'll share the post on FB & twitter. Thanks for sharing these, I had to laugh at some of them myself :-)

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  33. Hi Nancy. I am a recently retired librarian who is trying to help promote authors and their books by reviewing them. I write my true thoughts and always try to point out what I truly enjoyed and what I think made the story special. I can't fathom writing some of these reviews! If I absolutely hated a book I just wouldn't submit one. Guess it goes back to my Mamaw's influence because she truly lived this saying: "If you can't say something good, don't say anything at all". I would love to win your book.
    Thank you & Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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  34. This was fascinating to read. I laughed while reading some of the bad reviews (they were so bad they were funny), and had to pick my jaw up on the floor after reading the others. I love your books, Nancy, and E.E. Kennedy's, Kim Sawyer and several others. Why? Because all of you weave God's love throughout the twists and turns of the story, in addition to creating a place I can escape to (a place I wish was real), for a little while, with a cup of tea, or hot cocoa, and be encouraged in my faith, and ready to tackle my own problems again (insignificant in comparison to what I've just read). I've seen a few new to me authors I need to read, and I'm more determined than ever to start writing reviews. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  35. I always leave an honest review. I don't think I have said really anything negative about the books I have read. I did mention one book that had many typos in it that distracted me during the story. Your new books sounds like a great page turner Nancy!
    marypopmom (at) yahoo (dot) com
    Maryann

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  36. Thank you for a wonderful post. I know it must be hard at times not to be able to respond to reviewers. I always try to be respectful when I do reviews. I have always enjoyed your books and don’t understand why you would ever receive a bad review.
    jhdwayne(at)peoplepc(dot)com

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  37. I liked this post. Nice to see it from the "other side". I try to always leave a review and I try not to be cruel but rather just point out the problems I had with the book, if any. The worst review I ever left was a book someone asked me to review on Goodreads. I... well, it was awful. I mean really badly written. And the person said he was a bestseller. I tried really hard because I wanted to like the book but it was the biggest mess I'd ever tried to read. I struggled over halfway and had to stop. And it was obvious from all the reviews on that book that they had to be people close to him. As a reader, I'd feel cheated if I bought the book based on those reviews. So, I won't lie in a review and I always say that up front if I'm asked to write one. As a writer, I'd rather know what a reader had an issue with and if it is valid, I'd want to fix it. And if I disagreed, I'd just move on.

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  38. Thanks for this article (and the comments). It is helpful for reviewers, too.

    I'm looking forward to reading this book, even if I don't win it in this giveaway. Contact info jeanfamily92 at Yahoo dot com.

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