Negative Reviews = Great News!

The fundraiser for rape crisis centers has raised more than $1000 as of 9:30 this morning.  Y’all are wonderful!!!  To celebrate, I’m adding an autographed copy of Heroes in Training [Mysterious Galaxy | B&N | Amazon] to the prize giveaway.  Thank you all!


Over the past few weeks, Google Alerts brought word of a number of new reviews of my books.  At least half were wonderfully positive (thank you!), but some of them were … less flattering.

This is a good thing.

Don’t get me wrong — I’d much rather see more reviews describing the books as the best books ever.  I’d be lying if I said the negative reviews didn’t sting.  However, there’s no such thing as a book that appeals to everyone.  If you expect absolutely everyone to love your writing, you’re gonna be mighty disappointed.

“Wait a minute,” you protest.  “That’s probably true, but just because you know it’s pretty much inevitable that someone’s going to trash your book doesn’t mean it’s a good thing.”

Excellent point, imaginary reader.  Let me explain where I’m coming from by describing a random author who recently spammed a discussion group I was reading.  He was advertising his book, and included the line “Only 5-star reviews on Amazon!” as a selling point.

I had a pretty good idea what to expect, but I clicked over to the book’s listing anyway.  Call it morbid curiosity.  His claim was absolutely correct.  He had a handful of 5-star reviews, all praising this book to the Heavens.

The thing is, almost any book is going to get a few good reviews.  At the very first signing for my very first book, my friends and family were there to support me.  They bought copies, and some of them (not all, sadly) even read the book.  Those that hated it, well, I’m someone they know — they’re unlikely to trash me online.  Meaning the only reviews from that group are probably going to be positive.

Call them first circle readers.  It’s great to get those positive reviews, but I don’t give them much weight.

These days, I also have what I’ll call second circle readers — people who’ve read my stuff and are loyal to me as an author.  They already know they like my style, and are therefore fairly likely to enjoy my new books and post positive reviews.

Then there’s the outer circle.  Readers who don’t know my fiction.  Sadly, this is the biggest circle for most of us.  Here’s where things get risky.  Some of them will love it, and some won’t.  Statistically speaking, this is where most of the negative reviews are usually going to come from.

The fact that more reviews are cropping up for my books, and that these reviews are a mix of both positive and negative, suggests to me that I’m reaching that outer circle.  New readers are picking up my stuff and giving it a try, and that is a very good thing.

(That said, if those of you who like my books want to run out and post 5-star reviews all over the web, I certainly won’t object!)