*takes deep breath*

Today I am writing about book reviews. I am therefore approaching the writing of this post in the manner of a soldier picking her way across a field of landmines. I’m not even sure why I’m doing it. It’s just, well it’s such a BIG THING for me. The first thing I do when I switch on my laptop is to check out my Amazon page and if any of my books have an extra number of customer reviews I stiffen slightly and then scroll down and in my head I’m thinking; please be nice, please be nice. And if it’s a four or five star review I relax a bit and think, OK, good. And if it’s three or under my heart sinks a little and I gird my loins and if it’s a bad review I feel bad and if it’s a lukewarm review I feel bad and if it’s a patronising review I feel bad and if it’s a stupid review I feel bad and if it’s a really intelligent review I feel bad. I just feel bad.

For example: ‘Her books are readable … but this one bored me stupid.’ Now, this made me feel a bit bad. But not that bad because she liked some of my books, she just didn’t like this one. Her words were glib, but she wasn’t being mean or personal.
But sometimes reviews make me feel worse than that, sometimes they make me feel angry.

*Warning. From this point on there will be excessive use of capital letters*

This book was written with ‘can i sell it to tv/film’ constantly in mind, its so obvious in every setting and every character that it was written to transfer to film well.
Jewell on her own web-site makes it clear she wants to make a film from her books ——– such a shame she feels this way and can’t be happy with simply producing an outstanding book.”

Ha! Ha! I was apoplectic at this one. I cannot tell you, as writer, how foul it is when other people second guess your motives and motivations. I do not know one writer who would not like a film made of one of their books. ALL of us would. That is normal. It does not mean that I am writing a book with a film in mind. I NEVER write with a film in mind. NEVER. I will confess that sometimes I try to imagine a new chapter as a scene change in a film, but that is to help me move things along in my head, not because I’m thinking; ‘I wonder if Working Title would like it if the next scene started this way.’


What else makes me cross?


“In the 2012 paperback edition Jewell confesses she does not actually like the writing process itself but she enjoys the flexible lifestyle and the career prestige. This explains why it might not be a natural fit; as if she is trying her hand at being an author rather than the real deal. That she insists on writing so many books is a mystery in itself. Or maybe not. The idea of being a scribe is obviously more attractive to her than the craft.”

Imagine you’d been working somewhere for fifteen years, doing a really difficult job to the best of your abilities and then one day a complete stranger came up to you, tapped you on the shoulder and said; ‘really, the fact that you come here every day trying your hand at this job is really quite confounding to me when you sometimes find it so hard to do’.

I have written eleven books! I have sold a million copies!

Top publishers PAY me to write books! Then they INSIST that I write them and give them to them to publish! Then thousands of people INSIST on buying them and reading them and thoroughly enjoying them!

*and breathe*

I know I shouldn’t get cross. I am forty four years old. I’ve been doing this a long time. I should just shrug and get over it. Or, like my good friend Jenny Colgan, not read them in the first place. But I can’t help it. And if I don’t read the bad ones then I’ll miss the good ones and that would make my life substantially less rich in good experiences than it is when I do read them. I should also have some kind of empathy with people who get personal in book reviews. Because, my friends , I once did it myself.

A long long long time ago, when I was writing my first novel but was nowhere near publishing it, I read a book that irritated me. I went on to Amazon and I gave the book two stars and my review the horrid title; Goodness, what a silly book! I went on to use the phrase: “I just felt that Y**** was trying too hard to be cool, trying to impress the reader with how hard she is. I couldn’t shake the feeling that E*******e was Y****.” (I am using asterisks because the author of this book went on to write one of my favourite books of all time and if I was ever to meet her in real life I would like to be able to do so without her slapping me in the face). Oh how clever I thought I was being! Oh how valid I thought my opinion was! Oh how little I gave a thought to the possibility that the author might actually be reading her reviews! But she was. And she replied. And she sounded terribly hurt and confused. I felt absolutely horrible. Shortly afterwards I got my own book deal and karma came back to clip me round the ear.

After all my friends and family had left their five star reviews on the Ralph’s Party page (this is the LAW by the way, for first novels, thereafter it is called CHEATING), a cross girl from Italy came along and burst my bubble. She hated my book and gave it one star and a severe telling off . (You never forget your first one star review.) I wrote to her in a pathetic attempt to talk her round. She was very open to our dialogue and used it as an opportunity to point out further failings in my book. After a few mails back and forth we parted ways on good terms. But I don’t imagine she bought any more of my books.

Since then I have made it my business never to reply to reader reviews. No good can come of it. EVERYONE IS ENTITLED TO THEIR OPINION etc. So for years and years I went through the morning ritual; check, scroll down, read, feel good/bad/angry/happy, move on. Until THIS REVIEW:

Actually, NO. I have just gone back to it and reread the whole thing and really, nobody comes out of it well, least of all me. But in summary; the reviewer hated my book for a number of reasons but mainly because my child character did things that were unrealistic for a child of her age to be doing. This annoyed me more than her patronising manner and her assertion that because I had reviews from heat and Marie Claire in my books, that meant they were trash. (Neatly failing to mention the fact that I also have reviews from the Guardian and the Telegraph in my books. ANYWAY …) I wrote this book when my eldest child was the same age as the character I was writing about. I also had a child the same age as my character at the time that this reviewer made these comments. In other words her review was not just her opinion-to-which-she-was-entitled, it was a statement on the emotional, social and intellectual capacities of three year old children. And she was WRONG. So I broke my rule. I replied to her review.

(Oh God. So much went wrong, so quickly.)

In shock at my actions I went on to twitter to share (writers have nobody else to share with). I said “Oh God, I’ve just replied to an Amazon review!”

A lot of my followers on Twitter are other authors so there was a huge outpouring of oh-no-what-have-you-done-you-crazy-woman-I’ve-aways-wanted-to-do-that-but-never-had-the-nerve type responses. There were also a lot of people going to visit the review then coming back to Twitter to express their not-liking of the review and the reviewer. I got caught up in all this and well, to cut a long story short, I referred to the author of the review as a COCK.

And – cue maniacal laughter – it turns out that the reviewer was following me on Twitter! (It had not occurred to me for a moment that someone who hated my book so much would be following me on Twitter. I tend to follow only people I like and admire. But there you go.) So my well thought out and reasonably argued response to her original review was totally and utterly overshadowed by the fact that I’d called her a cock (I thought she was man) on a public forum and SHE TOTALLY WON.

I learnt my lesson. Read the reviews if you must, but do not take it any further. And besides, there are other ways of making yourself feel better about bad reviews. One of them is to check out the reviewer’s other reviews. For example see this:

1.0 out of 5 stars Just Horrible, 29 Aug 2011
By Reader – See all my reviews
This review is from: After the Party (Paperback)
This one I am giving away because it was horrible (and I keep all books that I would recommend to someone else), unreal, depressing, just terrible.

Well, in isolation that’s pretty damning. But put in the context of this:


then really who gives a shit? *whistles jauntily. Gets on with life*

Another thing I sometimes do is to go and look at the reviews for books I loved. For example, One Day by David Nicholls has 196 one star reviews. One hundred and ninety six! Seriously, and I’m getting upset about three. Actually, as I said earlier, it’s not bad reviews themselves that upset me, it’s the personal ones, the ones that prod the author in the face with a big pointy finger and snarl and say; oi, you, who do you think you are? YOU’RE NOT ALL THAT YOU KNOW.

I will play this entry out with some of my most hated quotes from over the years. Hopefully this will be CATHARTIC. (I hasten to point out that this is not a cry for help, or a rally call for a witch hunt, I’ve seen firsthand how easily these things can blow up and genuinely feel that people should be free to leave their opinions without being ticked off by legions of righteous fans. This is just me, talking about how it feels.)

So thank you thank you thank you to anyone reading this who has ever left a nice review of one of my books on Amazon or elsewhere. I take this pain for you …  I hope you’re all having a happy January, leaping about in the snow and looking forward to a happy, healthy, brilliant year to come.

Lots of love (and thanks for letting me vent)


“I liked the author once, but I don’t think I’ll buy another of her books. She’s lived off her debut too long as it is.”

(Yes, fourteen years *is* quite a long time. Maybe I *should* stop writing now.)

“Clever author, clearly going for a Bestseller by appealing to the lowest common denominator, but I can’t see how any book critic in his right mind and deserving that title can call her “a great storyteller”. If Lisa Jewell is capable of complex thoughts or at least long sentences, she has hidden it well

(Because of course, the foundation of *all* great storytelling lies in complex thoughts and long sentences)

“This book was on special offer and I should have been wary

(Yes, and those 30% off pork chops you bought today in Sainsburys are full of listeria)

I’m sad to say that I think there are authors out there who write really gripping novels about similar themes with more maturity and depth.”

(She’s sad and now I’m sad too. The ones where they might be right are the worst)

Lisa Jewell likes all her ends neatly tied up at the end of the story – this made the stories seem less plausible because life is not like that.”

(The key word here being ‘stories’, I feel.)

The illusion of prestige was helped along no end by the paperback’s `Sunday Times Bestseller’ endorsement. Now at least I know that might not be all it is cracked up to be.”

(Being a Sunday Times Bestseller is not an ‘endorsement’. It’s maths)

A writer of mettle, nevertheless could have turned it into a meaningful exploration of what it means to be a family … But Lisa Jewell is not that kind of writer. `The Making of Us’ reads like it is written by a well-meaning but inexperienced author (Jewell has nine novels to her, ahem, credit)

(Yes, thank you, I now feel approximately three inches tall).

Brought for a friend of mine as a christmas present so can’t comment on it myself as i haven’t read it.”



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53 Responses to *takes deep breath*

  1. ger hogan January 22, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    Loved this and if it’s any consolation, this christmas is the first time in a decade that I sat down and read a book in two days – it was one of yours, I just couldn’t put it down!
    Keep it up and I say, don’t bother reading anything less than five stars!

  2. Nina Bell January 22, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    Good post. I feel that a number of negative reviews are left by people who are angry about something else, and are taking it out on the book – and the author – they’re reading at the time. Others are clearly intended to hurt, and they do. It’s road rage in print.

    I think that Amazon, and other review sites, should insist on real names for reviews – it’s the anonymity that allows people to shed their inhibitions. However I’m not sure how that could be enforced.

    Perhaps the best comfort is that if a bad review is clearly vindictive, mis-spelt and illogical, then most real readers don’t take any notice of it. Incidentally, did you notice that one of your bad reviews nevertheless called the book ‘outstanding’? Very odd to cloak such a major compliment in alot of bile.

  3. Jane January 22, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    Thank you for being so honest about how you can be successful and bestselling and well regarded by your peers and popular and STILL one person writing one short, bad-tempered review while they’re waiting for the end of the ad break in Coronation Street can make you feel like a worthless husk. Awful. Get someone else to read the nice ones out loud so you can enjoy them, and ignore the rest.

  4. Sue Hepworth January 22, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    Well said, Lisa.

    My “favourite” bad review of one of my books was “Better than her first, which was total rubbish.”

  5. Julia Crouch January 22, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    Thank you for posting this, Lisa. I’m going to add it to my bookmarks to flick back to whenever I brave my amazon reviews. My personal favourite 1-star review (for Every Vow You Break) has the title: ‘I wasted hours of my life reading this..’ It’s good for thickening the skin, though.

  6. Jill Mansell January 22, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    Oh Lisa, so brilliant – I’m exactly the same as you and check my Amazon reviews most days. My favourites are the ones that say: This book was so unbelievably awful that Mansell clearly dashed it off in a few weeks not caring if it was any good or not – either that or some underling wrote it for her.
    I always long to pin them to a wall and shriek, “It took me a WHOLE YEAR to write it and believe it or not I TRIED MY ABSOLUTE BEST TO MAKE IT GOOD.”

    But yes, the nice reviews do make it all worthwhile! xx

    • Rosalie Ash January 25, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

      Lisa and Jill

      I love your books. Your comments just reassure me that if YOU can get bad reviews ANYONE can! So thank you!

  7. rea book review January 22, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    A great and honest post. Being a book review myself the whole reviewing for a book you do not enjoy is always a tough one because a) there is usually a lovely author who has worked so hard hiding behind the book and you don’t want to criticize their work and b) because it wasn’t my cup of tea doesn’t mean some one else won’t enjoy the book. I have rules
    1) if I have something negative to say about a book then try and back this up then with great points about the book.
    2) If I don’t have anything good to say about a book then I just write ever “not my cup of tea but I am sure will appeal to others”
    3) Never review a book I haven’t finished
    4) Never get personal as what happens in the authors personal life has got nothing to do with the book.

    But then I also have to say that when reading reviews of books if they are all 5* or 4* I do wonder if the reviews are legit as it is good to hear the positives and negatives about a book.

    Just remember you will never please everyone You are a fantastic author and this shows in the sales of your books we are all human so any negative comments will get our backs up but then go back and read the positives

    Love ya and keep writing mwahhhh xXx

  8. Jack Eason January 22, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

    There is no cure for nasty reviews I’m afraid Lisa, especially on Amazon. Once the individual who hides like a coward behind a pseudonym has found your work, all you can do is grin and bare it.

    The Internet troll is not just confined to Amazon. Goodreads also has a few. Rarely if ever do I peruse the reviews of my own work any more unless someone draws my attention to a particular one.

    For what its worth, if you want peace of mind don’t read your reviews.

  9. Kate Harrison January 22, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

    Oh, Lisa, like Julia, I am bookmarking this one. You tell it how it is. And your books are among my all-time favourites. My personal best one-stars lately: first, one entitled ‘Worst Buy Ever’ for an ebook costing £1.09. And then, to follow up, ‘this is the book i didn’t wasn’t ment to be downloaded so i hated this book because i had to pay for it’

  10. Anne Cater January 22, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

    What a fabulous, heartfelt post this is.

    I review on Amazon and also on my blog (Random Things Through My Letterbox), and always try to be very fair in my comments.

    I always find it more difficult to review a book if I’ve not really liked it, and if I’ve detested it, then I often just don’t post a review. I have so much respect for anyone who can write and some of the reviews that I’ve seen on Amazon really do take my breath away.

    Not only do people say awful things about the book, but often they become personal attacks on the author – so unfair, and often so untrue.

    I have no idea what it must feel like to read such hurtful things about something that you’ve created. I get a little bit upset if someone has given one of my reviews a negative vote on Amazon, goodness knows what it must feel like for an author to read things like that.

    Lisa – I loved your last book, and raved about it on my review, and you have thousands of fans. I think that it’s only human nature that we concentrate on the bad reviews rather than the good – they hurt the most I guess.

    A x

  11. Sandy January 22, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

    Hi Lisa, I personally think that the person that wrote that review is indeed, a C word, I just think you meant the four lettered C word that ends in..well, nevermind. My point is that any time a reviewer tries to bolster their criticism with personal attacks, or intentionally proceeds to attack all of an author’s works in the manner that this reviewer did, they shouldn’t be surprised to get some feedback for it. Perhaps you did another author a future favor and this person will think twice before writing another poisonous review. While criticism can be an opportunity to grow and improve, every once in a great while, there is an outlier that goes too far. This one was it, IMO. Don’t apologize for it.

  12. Tamsyn Murray January 22, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

    Am quietly impressed that you called someone a cock. My favourite one star review is over on Goodreads, where the reviewer had bought three of my books for a fiver from The Book People and complained she’d never get her five pounds back. I almost offered to send it to her.

  13. Fiona Chapman January 22, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

    Oh Lisa this post did make me laugh in places. I became a fan of yours a few years ago and have to confess I haven’t read anything recent but hats off to you for getting to where you are now! I remember reading how you became a novelist after a bet and I think that’s absolutely fabulous. I have Ralph’s party, Vince and Joy and Thirty Nothing and loved all of them. It’s not an easy feat writing a novel, as anyone who has written one knows! I’ve not reached the review stage of my career yet and I know it’s going to be tough when I do get those negative ones. Good for you for taking it in your stride. Great post. Fiona

  14. Alison Smith January 22, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

    Oh god, I do feel for you. At least the rest of us (who don’t write and aren’t in the public eye) tend not to get written criticism, just people being rude to us in passing, but seeing things in writing makes them feel so final, even if they came from a moment’s spleen. Fwiw, I love your books. From now on I’ll start reviewing them (nicely!) on Amazon.

  15. Katy Regan January 22, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

    Lisa, this made me laugh, cringe, shake my fists….. Good for you for writing what we’re all thinking…

    Mine (so far, it’s early days) was: “Couldn’t even finish this, all the characters were so annoying.”

    Maybe we could start a backlash with a site which outs all those mean-spirited people with too much time on their hands who take the time to write bad / badly written / stupid reviews!

  16. Mysti Parker January 22, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

    Having recently received my first one-star review myself, in which the reviewer called my book a “nickel-nasty”, I feel your pain. My books have also garnered such comments as “too romancey” and “pornographic”, alongside other reviews which call them “epic fantasy” and others that say they are written with “creatively clean taste”.

    I have a long way to go before I reach any bestseller status, but I’m learning wisely from experienced authors such as yourself. Never, ever, ever, shall I personally engage a reviewer. I shall, and have, respond in more passive aggressive ways on my blog,

    February, I’m even hosting a “Nickle-Nasty” blog series for other romance writers. Keep fighting and writing! You can’t please them all, but you can have a happy heart about the ones you do! ~Mysti

  17. Jan Brigden January 22, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

    Your honesty and willingness to lay your feelings so bare and share this with us is why we love you, Lisa! Good on you. I, for one, have loved all of your books and cannot WAIT to read your next one (I think I may have caught the capital letters bug there…) Xx

  18. Caroline January 22, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

    Ignore them Lisa! They are only jealous that they haven’t had the guts and determination to do exactly what you do, do something you love for a living! I know exactly how you feel, but on another level! I’ve run successful events in my pub/s for 25 years i.e birthday parties, funeral receptions, engagement parties, weddings and have had 1000’s of wonderful feedback from happy guests but its the stupid remark at the end of the night that i will think about for weeks! i.e ‘i had to drip dry cos you ran out of toilet paper’ ‘ i broke the mirror in the toilets by accident so i’m finding it hard to re-apply my makeup’ ‘i’ve just jumped over the fence at the back of the pub and i caught my dress on a nail’ -shame it wasn’t your neck love! lol x Keep up your wonderful writing x

  19. Michela January 22, 2013 at 8:15 pm #

    This was so refreshing to read, Lisa! I’m only at the start – two novels published so far and not in your league! – and I’m yet to come across that really nasty review, but I’m already dreading it. I can’t believe that a successful (and talented!) author like yourself is still hurt by a reader’s bad opinion of her books… I guess we’re all in the same boat when we put our precious babies (for that is what books are for their authors) out there and wait for people to love them as we do. If it’s any help, I loved all your books I’ve read, starting from “Ralph’s Party” and I’ve recently finished “The Making of Us” which I absolutely adored, as I told you. I’m glad I shared my little review with you… hope it will help balance things and I’m sure the scale tips in your favour! And as for writing “too many books” (?) – please, keep writing! x

  20. Laura January 22, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    A great post Lisa.
    I know everyone is entitled to an opinion as you say but I do feel like asking these scathing reviewers ‘so, where’s the evidence that you can do better then?’ Reviews can be honest without being horrible and personal. If you didn’t like it then why did you waste time getting to the end?
    Ralph’s Party remains in my list of favourite books. Looking forward to the next one. x

  21. James Brown January 22, 2013 at 9:22 pm #

    Lisa – I have never read one of your book and most likely never will, the laws of chance being what they are – but.

    It seems to me that writing should be considered an art and if so the only one to please is the artist himself. No need to read the reviews at all. If your writing to pay the bills then you probable aren’t creating art and must adjust your work to the lowest common set of ‘likes’ and must also listen to the reviews.

    The golden mean is art created that also pays the bills.

  22. Kieran January 22, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

    Thanks so much for writing this! I’ve just had my first book out, and received my first horrific one-star review (which was kindly posted on both Amazon AND Goodreads). After seething about it for a good while I just took your advice and checked out that person’s other reviews to find that I actually got off quite lightly. And it’s nice to know it happens to other writers, too.

  23. Helena Duggan January 22, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

    A great post, I have just released my book and know that my first negative review will cut deep. I come from a design background, do I’m used to criticism but that won’t make it any easier. It’s reassuring that even well established and accomplished writers get bad reviews…I’ll try to remember that when I’m scrolling down amazon!

  24. amy henefer January 22, 2013 at 10:21 pm #

    Love this post Lisa, It just shows that people who waste their time writing bad reviews have never taken the time to read your books and appreciate how great they are. People like that are small minded and have nothing better to do, just use them as good material for any future baddies that you write

  25. Debs Riccio January 22, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

    Like my Nan used to say: “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”.
    Cock. Brilliant :)

  26. Sarah Tranter January 22, 2013 at 11:02 pm #

    Essential reading. Thank you! :)

  27. Roz January 22, 2013 at 11:25 pm #

    I write book reviews both on Amazon and for my own blog, I just started it as something to take my mind off other things. But, as time has gone on it has become more and more difficult, especially when authors have thanked me for great reviews as it has made me think of the feelings of those writers I was less kind towards, but having the blog has been a really good thing for me personally. Speaking as a reviewer, I don’t do it to be cruel or as a personal vendetta against an author just to say what I think. I do consider the writers feelings but I am still fully frank about how I felt about the book. I have written some stinking reviews of books and I do feel guilty, but I still do it and feel angst about it.

    I’ve never read/reviewed any of yours

    Roz x

  28. Gillian Philip January 22, 2013 at 11:30 pm #

    What a fabulous post. Easy to say ignore the nasty reviews, but it’s so tempting just to check them…just one line… I especially sympathised with the bit about second-guessing your motives. I can’t find it just now, so will have to paraphrase, but I once had a review that said ‘Obviously the only reason this series is set in different countries is so that the author could go on research jaunts at the expense of her publisher.’ HA! I wish!

  29. Zoe goldsmith January 23, 2013 at 6:08 am #

    Well it’s 6.03 and I should have been up 10 minutes ago but as you’re one of my favourite writers, I felt compelled to respond. In brief: I LOVE your books, I was hooked by dream street many years ago, went back and read the ralphs and sobbed round the pool on holiday, (being a little too sucked into their story) adored melody brown and then was cemented as a fan when I read before you were mine. I’ve read some others but like I said, I’m late. I’m an English teacher and reading for pleasure is a rare luxury but when I do if it isn’t you latest then I hope it is something just as good. Ignore the parasites.

  30. Karen January 23, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    Great post. I’ve just had my first experience of this very thing – not so much in the review, but the header – and it’s more hurtful than I would have thought. I was determined to be dignified and not respond though, and crept away to lick my wounds in private. Whenever I read a ‘personal’ review of a novel, I tend not to take any notice anyway :o) (And your sales figures speak for themselves!)

  31. Amanda January 23, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    I am happy to say that I read all your books and have really enjoyed them.. yes everybody has their own opinion.. and also their own favourite authours.. some people just dislike everything!! …..I guess someone criticising your book is like someone criticising my children… well it leaves you with the same feeling anyway…
    :-) …. many of your books have been bestsellers… `nuff said… keep writing!

  32. Helena Cutler January 23, 2013 at 9:38 am #


    Love this post. I’m always careful what I write in reviews – and never tend to review if I didn’t enjoy the book! Am going to have to check out some friends’ reviews on Amazon now and see how many people I can call a cock for insulting my friends :) lol

    Chin up – you wouldn’t sell a million books if everyone thought like that idiot!!

  33. Lee Harrison January 23, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    It’s taken me three years to dare read After The Party. I read the first couple of pages once in the bookshop. You broke my heart. I stopped and couldn’t read another line. I’m almost halfway through now but I’ve put it down again. I opened up google docs and started to type. And type. And type. Type that thing that I haven’t felt strong enough or inspired enough to type for twenty years. You helped me kick the doors down that I never felt brave enough to bust open on my own. So thank you. Thank you for writing for people that feel and for constantly disappointing all those who have never felt a thing. And I’ll finish After The Party when I’m finished with me. Don’t break my heart again.

  34. Fiona Gibson January 23, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

    Great post Lisa. I was in tears over my first bad review – especially as it was in a newspaper I wrote a regular column for, and ESPECIALLY as the first I’d heard of it was when my mother called and gleefully read it out down the phone. I don’t really care any more, but only because I know I’ve sat here for months on end, grafting away, nearly tearing my hair out sometimes, and have done the best job I possibly can. I always love your books and can’t wait for the next one. These nasty reviews smack of snobbery and jealousy – I hope you can rise above them!

  35. Bossmoo January 23, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    I am currently reading the truth about melody browne and 50 pages in you have made me cry twice… I’m hooked on this one.

    I find if i don’t like a book I won’t recommend it to my friend, I have a very informal book group, badically we get together and talk about books we have recently read not the “you must read this book type” and your books are lovex by all.

    Ralphs Party is my most recommended to friends, most lent but least returned to me book so I have bought it probably 5-6 times Smith on the loo is just a most pathetic image but makes me laugh when i read it and smile, even now just thinking about it.

    Some people take pride in tearing down other peoples abilities generally as they have none of their own. If you have nothing nice to say say nothing.

  36. Rebecca Emin January 25, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    What a super blog post for all readers and writers. I don’t think a lot of people who review on Amazon realise that authors check their pages avidly. I also know there are people who write horrid reviews for the fun of it, just as you said above.

    I did laugh rather a lot when I read about the “cock” issue.

    Refreshingly honest post though – I admire the fact that you admitted you wrote a bad review one day, and regretted it.


  37. Jonita January 25, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    As a blogger I take this topic very seriously- there are times when I read a book that I don’t enjoy but try never to personally attack the author! Sometimes a book just doesn’t work for me, but will work for others. :)

    Thank-you for providing me with an author’s perspective!

  38. Effie January 25, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    I am now compelled to go and read one of your books. I must! And I have a feeling I won’t be disappointed. If you write with the same honesty as this blog post, I am sure I will love it. Which one would you recommend I start with?

  39. Annette January 25, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    Hi Lisa,

    I often let the reviews other people give books influence my choice of title. I also love to read and review books – as a writer myself, I appreciate it when someone tells me they like what I’ve written. But if I can’t honestly give a book at least 3 stars out of five, I just won’t review it all. I think it’s valid to recommend books, to share those you’ve enjoyed, but it’s not my job – or any other ‘casual’ reviewer’s – to squash anyone who has put as much time, effort and emotion into their work as writers do. Instead of saying “this was crap” it’s better to just say nothing.


  40. Kathryn Brown January 25, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

    It was fate that I stumbled on a Retweet and saw this post being promoted because I’m just about to let go of my 2nd novel and put it ‘out there’ for scrutiny. I’m nervous as hell! Those reviews can be a bugger to digest but you’ve given some fabulous advice here.

    Best wishes,
    aka Crystal Jigsaw

  41. Nikki Bywater January 25, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    My name is Nikki and I am a book reviewer lol x Interesting post. I have nothing but respect for all authors, and I can totally understand how you feel about some reviews. I do not think there is any reason what-so-ever for people who review books to be patronising and rude. I always keep my reviews positive and I am honest too. Just because a book may not be for me, does not mean that it will be not liked by other people. So I work with this in mind. If I find a book is not for me and I can’t get into it and I can not finish it. What good would that do anyone if I was negative and ran the author down? So I tend not to review books that I can not finish. I think there is a way to get your point across what you do not like about a book without been rude and I always will follow and concentrate more on what was good about the book. I see myself as a reader than a writer (Hey so that as the typo’s covered lol) and for me reviewing is that I get more out of a book than justt popping it back on the shelf or storing it in my Kindle x

  42. j January 25, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    Bravo! I admit to having the same love/hate relationship with reviews (reading them and crying/hiding/giggling like a loon), it’s more than human nature can bear not to check up every now and then. And, besides, sometimes a review has a point that can make the *next* book a better book. And, yes, I believe everyone has a right to a view and an opinion – can’t stand review sites where every review is an ‘oh my gaaad, this is a brilliant book and the hero is sooooo hoooot, and the heroine is soooo sexy my favourite book EVAH’, I prefer at least a degree of honesty.

    I believe that there’s such a thing as a ‘good’ bad review, where the reviewer takes the time to say why and where the book didn’t work for them. Maybe they couldn’t identify with the characters, maybe they hated a plot strand or an overall theme. That way, other readers can make an educated choice – perhaps they don’t mind that theme, or characters that are a bit hard to identify with. Maybe they hate bad grammar, or swearing, or some other thing, which makes them give another book a bad review.

    Thank you, Lisa, for making all of us authors with one-star reviews feel a little less alone, a little less bitter, and a little less likely to haul off in public.

  43. Sarah Callejo January 25, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    Whenever I read nasty reviews on Amazon I think, ‘I’m glad I’m not published yet’. I keep hearing that you’ve got to have a hard skin to be an author, but unless they start selling them (OK, sorry, not a nice image), I don’t see how you can distance yourself enough from your hard work to not care. There should be skin hardening vitamins next to the nail hardening ones in the chemist.

    I’ve noticed that the worst reviews are always anonymous. People loose all respect when they hide behind a false name and I don’t see the point of trying to destroy someone’s reputation.

    It’s encouraging to see that writers are so supportive with each other. You can count me as one of your fervent fans too.

    • Sarah Callejo January 25, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

      Oh no, I wrote loose instead of lose and I can’t edit it! I’d probably be happier if I didn’t have a spelling-conscience.

  44. Deborah January 25, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    Brilliant, Lisa!
    I do wonder why it’s the bad reviews that always stick in our heads:)
    I too have replied to the occassional bad (or as I would say, unfair/unjust/inaccurate review) but I’ve also replied to the five star reviewers to thank them for taking the time to write how much they enjoyed my books.
    I guess it’s just the cross we have to bear as authors;)

  45. George Rigby January 25, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    You know what they say, Lisa – them that can, do, and them that can’t criticize.

  46. Brook January 26, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    Chin up. :-)

  47. Suzy Turner January 29, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    I loved this, Lisa. You really made me laugh out loud. As an author myself, I totally understand where you’re coming from.
    When I first started out, I agreed to ‘swap reviews’ with another YA author. Imagine my absolute shock therefore when she proceeded to rip my book apart on Amazon. It was just nasty and much of what she said was so wrong. It didn’t half piss me off.
    I could have written her an equally disgusting review but that’s just not me. Maybe I’m too nice? Anyway, I simply removed her book from my Kindle without reading it and never had anything to do with her again (not much of a comeback but, like I said… nice!)

  48. A. Carr January 30, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

    Authors reviewing reviews – never a good idea.


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