I’m going to make this short and to the point. Reader reviews are what they are. Writing is art and reading is subjective. That whole beauty in the eye of the beholder thing. That’s what is wonderful about it. There’s something for everyone.
Yes, there are certain rules writers should follow that make for “good” writing but even those rules can be broken and broken with success.
But as for the reviews themselves, I put reviews into four categories: Positive about the story; Positive about the craft; Negative about the craft; Negative about nonsense.
I’m not going to dwell on the positive reviews because everyone enjoys positive reviews. For some readers the story captures their imagination or heart and they just love it. For others, the skill of the author impresses them. Positive reviews are awesome. Simple.
Negative reviews are another kind of bird. There are the negative reviews that actually mean something. They touch on the craft of storytelling or the skill of word weaving. Pacing, character development, plotting, etc. This is called constructive criticism. I take these reviews to heart and seek to learn something from them.
Then there are the moronic reviews. Like this one for my family drama, A Thousand Sleepless Nights (written under a pen name, Michael King): The reviewer gave it 2 stars because “I ordered this book because my brother was recently diagnosed with Colon Cancer, I thought this would be a resource book.” Really? It clearly says “A Novel” right on the cover. My heart goes out to the brother and . . . he could still use it as a resource book.
And then there are comments like this attached to 1-star reviews: “Gives you the impression it’s going to be a horror novel, and ends up pounding religion into the reader.” And this: “This book is all about finding God, how your problems will all be solved and all will be right with the world. What a crock. If I want to find religion, I can do it without being tricked into reading a religious book. Shame.” Uh, did they read the book? Yes, it’s about finding God but all is definitely not right with the world. And these are the folks who accuse Christians of being closed-minded. Shame.
These moronic reviews really don’t bother me. They’re part of being a writer and you take ’em as part of the journey.
But sometimes negative reviews hurt. This one for Frantic still puts an ache in my heart. It’s honest and respectful and I appreciate that. I wrote a post on it before that discusses why it hurt so badly.
Other times I’m just baffled by positive vs. negative reviews. The two following reviews exemplify perfectly how subjective reading is. Both are for my short story The Last Hunt.
The positive one: From the first line of the story, Dellosso’s craftsmanship shows through. The story begins with boyhood memories of hunting trips with his dad, his uncle, and his grandfather. The tale includes anecdotes of how the narrator grew up on these hunting trips and approached manhood. Then the story delves into the fateful night and the hunting trip that was the final one. The story is narrated at just the right pace. It is a masterpiece.
And the negative one: I really enjoy Mr. Dellosso’s books, so I thought I would try this short story. It was very disappointing and definitely not worth the dollar I spent on it. The story was rushed and the conclusion just left me confused. Questions were not answered and storylines weren’t finished. I think this would make a good full-length book so that more things could be fleshed out. As a short story, however, it fell way short of the mark.
Did they read the same story? Obviously they did. But you see how the same story can affect people in two totally different ways. For a writer, this is frustrating.
Now, the negative one here would fall into the “Negative about the craft” category and is worth learning from. Except one thing that, I’m sorry, just irks me: “definitely not worth the dollar I spent on it.” I wish this reviewer would have used his real name because I’d gladly track him down and refund his dollar. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
Okay, that was a little more than short and sweet. Sorry.
Hey, if you haven’t read my newest thriller, Fearless, yet I’d suggest getting a copy and leaving a review when you’re done. And I’ll thank you ahead of time for any positive or thoughtful negative reviews. But please, if your review is going to be moronic, save your time and skip it. Or don’t use your real name.
FEARLESS, my newest thriller officially releases tomorrow and in my book (pun inteneded) that calls for a celebration. And to celebrate I want to give away some books.
Today, leave a comment to this blog post and get in on the drawing to win a copy of THE LAST HUNT (an e-short story), MIRROR IMAGE (an e-short story), or FRANTIC (my 5th thriller). Contest ends at midnight.
Come back tomorrow. I’ll be giving away copies of the short stories and FEARLESS as well as another book!
I want to thank everyone who helped promote Mirror Image and The Last Hunt. I want to thank those who downloaded them, who read them, who reviewed them, who talked about them. I hope you enjoyed both stories. They’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback and have really seemed to strike a good note with readers.
If you missed the giveaways, not to worry, both stories are available for only $0.99.
Fearless releases on May 7, a week from Tuesday. You can preorder it just about anywhere. So far, it’s getting very good reviews, some saying it’s my best book yet. I find this interesting because after all is said and done with the writing and editing of all my books I always think, This is the book that’s going to flop, that’s going to expose me as a fraud. But from what I hear from my author friends that’s a perfect normal feeling and shared by most.
Fearless is a wonderful story and while writing it I quickly fell in love with the characters. It has lots of suspense, mystery, intrigue, and of course a slight twist of the supernatural. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
The Last Hunt was a short story I wrote a few years ago. I recently revised it and it is now available for Kindle and for FREE for a limited time.
This story will make you think twice about ever going into the woods again.
Today through Thursday you can download THE LAST HUNT for FREE! (After that it’ll be only $0.99.)
Download it now and please help spread the word about this special offer. Share it on Facebook, Twitter, and whatever other social media venues you frequent. Thank you!
Tomorrow, Tuesday 4/23, through Thursday 4/25 I’ll be giving away THE LAST HUNT.
This story will have you thinking twice about ever going into the woods again.
You won’t want to miss this one!
Wow, what a great collection of story ideas. Choosing just one was not easy and honestly it came down to about five minutes ago (as of the writing of this post at 5:45 this morning).
I’d like to say again that just because your story idea wasn’t chosen doesn’t mean it’s not any good. There were a lot of great ideas, creative, inspiring, intriguing, entertaining. Not all were appropriate for a short story, though. In fact, I was able to narrow the field pretty quickly by eliminating the concepts that would require much more than 10,000 words.
There were several that really caught my imagination. Some were surprisingly simple but sometimes it’s the most simple things that make the greatest impact.
Please, if you submitted a story idea and you’re interesting in writing or you are a writer . . . pursue it. Don’t wait. Make the time. Get help if you need it. But do something with it. You have an idea, a concept, a starting point, now go for it!
Okay, not to drag this on too much . . . here is the winner of the second “Who Wants to Write a Short Story With Me” contest:
CATHY GROOVER: I have always wanted to write, but fear kept me from doing so.
Do you want to take the plunge and co-write a short story with me?
Last year I held a contest where the winner would co-write and publish a short story with me. Aaron Reed, a pastor, husband, and father of five won and we just recently released our short story Mirror Image. You may want to check it out (only $0.99 on Amazon).
I think it’s safe to say both of us had a blast writing it, too.
Well now I’m ready to do it again.
Here are the details:
- Your entry must be a story idea in one sentence and one sentence only. Any genre, any topic, just please, no erotica.
- You can enter as many ideas as you want.
- You can either post your entry below as a comment or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name in your entry.
- Entries will be accepted through midnight Friday.
- The final five will be announced Monday, 4/15.
Have fun with this. I know I’ll fun reading your entries.
Please help spread the word about this contest on all your social media hang-outs.
I’d like to give a big THANK YOU to all who helped promote the three-day giveaway of MIRROR IMAGE. The promotion went very well. I sincerely hope everyone enjoys the story. I know Aaron and I enjoyed writing it. And please write a short review and post it on Amazon. Those reviews carry more punch that you’d think they do.
In fact, I enjoyed the whole process so much I want to do it again. Stay tuned for more information coming next week about an all new “Who Wants to Write a Story With Me?” Contest. And start revving up your creative engine.
Also, if you missed the MIRROR IMAGE giveaway you can still download the story for just $0.99. Just follow this link.
And be watching for another short story to be released April 23. THE LAST HUNT is a tale that will make you think twice about ever going in the woods again.
Do you like psychological thrillers in the style of Alfred Hitchcock? Remember those old Alfred Hitchcock Presents episodes? Good stuff. MIRROR IMAGE, the short I co-wrote with Aaron Reed is being offered for FREE for one more day. The offer ends tonight at midnight. Don’t miss this chance to get your copy of this intriguing, fast-paced short story.
And can we ask a favor. Once you’ve read it (it’s a short, quick read) will you please leave a review on Amazon? Those reviews help more than you think they do. And if you enjoy the story, a positive review is like giving us a $20 tip.
Enjoy trying to figure out the ending!