Friday, July 20, 2012

Guest Nancy Mehl--Reviewing the Reviewers

Reviewing the “Reviewers”

Nancy Mehl

When your first book is published, many times it’s through self-publishing or with a small or mid-list publisher. Once it’s out, reviews are like catnip to a usually docile cat. Your friends and family, who believe with all their hearts that your words like nuggets of pure gold, praise you all over Amazon and wherever else your book shows up. Surely you are the embodiment of Dickens, Shakespeare, and Nicholas Sparks all rolled into one. (Now that’s a scary thought!) Every couple of hours, you click on Amazon to see if another wonderful review has magically appeared. Yep, there’s one from Uncle Joe. Like that aforementioned feline, you’re high on “the nip,” jumping around, grinning like that euphoric Cheshire kitty from Alice’s world. Of course, you may be a little concerned about those dang Amazon numbers that don’t seem to move. Surely the only people reading your book aren’t your friends and family members who got free copies. But…other writers explain patiently that no one really understands Amazon anyway, so you decide to blithely ignore those silly numbers and sniff another line of nip. Besides…there’s a five star review from Aunt Sally!

And then one day a miracle happens. You get an offer from a large publisher that will actually place your book in bookstores! No more begging local merchants for shelf space while you feel like Oliver Twist pleading, “Please, sir. May I have some more?” They point toward the dreaded “Local Interest” section that is always in the back of the store – in the darkest corner. Not anymore! It’s the end cap for you! People you don’t know will actually be reading your book. Hallelujah! Now the fun begins. Your book comes out and you wait for the raves to start. After all, your mom, your best friend Ethel, and your aunt and uncle believe in you. Surely the rest of the world feels the same way! Wait until they discover your genius! You click over to Amazon and… Oh, my. What??? After you pick yourself up off the floor and check your glasses, you start to wonder if you’ve been imagining this deep well of talent that has propelled you to greatness. Could Aunt Sally be wrong? Surely your mother wasn’t lying to protect your feelings. WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON?????

Your red-rimmed eyes take in comments like:
“I wanted to like this book but…”
“…flat characters and a silly plot.”
“Don’t waste your money on this book.”
“I will never read another book by this author again.”
“This author’s mother wears a tin foil hat and dirty sneakers.”

Okay, I made up that last one. But you get the idea.

So…what has happened? Easy, you’ve entered the wonderful world of “real” book reviews. I used quotes on the word “real” because authors need to understand that many of these reviews aren’t as “real” as they seem.

Before I present the “balanced” side of book reviews, may I let off a little steam? You’re welcome to skip this part of the article and pick it up a few paragraphs down. That’s where I present sound and logical advice. But this next part? I will be peering into the deep, dark part of the writer’s brain we all try to hide. The truth we’d never admit to in public. But I’d bet my Strunk and White that almost every single author has had these thoughts. Except me, of course. I would never…(Cough, cough.) Never mind.

What we’d like to say to these people who write bad reviews:

“Excuse me? One star? You asked people to save their money and pass on my book? Where do you work? You work at Starbucks? Let’s see how you like it when I come in this afternoon and announce to everyone there that your lattes are lame and your frappuccinos flop. Oh, and while I’m at it, I’d like to say a few words to your boss. What? I could cost you your job? Your income? Has it occurred to you that your lousy review affects me the same way?”

“You talk to your mother with that mouth? When you’re in church this Sunday and the pastor talks about edifying and blessing your brothers and sisters, will you remember those nasty things you said about my book?”

“By the way, Miss Book Reviewer, you got the name of my main character wrong! You also gave away a major plot point! Not cool!”

Well, you get the picture. Not the classiest way to respond. Nor the correct way either. But the truth remains that if any author turned the tables and lambasted a reviewer, that critic would be mortally offended, even angered. It’s happened a few times – and the results weren’t pretty. In this situation, turnabout is definitely NOT fair play. In truth, most of us will never take a chance on “reviewing the reviewers.” How do we handle the rush of resentment that flairs up when we read an unfair review? The important thing to remember is that most of these reviews are not from professional reviewers. They are from people. People with prejudices and opinions. Many times the review actually has very little to do with your writing ability. It has more to do with personal taste. And yes, it does feel unjust when someone blasts you for silly things.

Here are some real examples from actual reviews. This is from one of my books:

Charity, a six-year-old still takes naps, yet, most every night, she can hardly keep her eyes open. She is content to sit all day and color. Hmm, I don't remember my children acting like this.

What? You gave the book three stars because a child in my book took too many naps???? Really???

This is from a review for another author:

“…whilst giving you a distorted, indeed bigoted, picture of faiths not their own. It is ideologues like ***** who have given Christianity a bad name, such that their Founder would not recognize his teaching amid the wreckage modern fundies have made of it.”

Um…what????? A least the language was…medieval.

And to me, one of the funniest review comments ever:

I will never read anything by you again because you named a town “Intercourse.”

Wow. Those folks in Pennsylvania better take to wearing ski masks.

So…how does a well-balanced writer deal with reviews like these? I dunno. Let me go and ask one… I mean, here’s what every writer must understand if they’re going to tread safely through the delicate mine field of book reviews:

ALL reviews are subjective. What does that mean? It means, that just because Betty Sue hates everything you do, her opinion doesn’t matter one whit more than Cindy Lynn who loves each word that flows through your magic fingers. In fact, it should mean less. People see things in different ways. I imagine that the reviewer who hates my sleepy child character has issues. Many times, in inspirational fiction, it could be something you’ve said that doesn’t line up with the reviewer’s doctrine. They can’t say that because they’d sound like a religious bigot. So…suddenly little, unimportant things become huge stumbling blocks. And the reader who loves you? Something you said impacted them in a positive way. And isn’t that the reason you write? Isn’t it more important that the “naps issue?”

Okay, what about the professional reviewers? Folks who do this for a living? They’re still people. They can be wrong. But…they can also be right. When I first started out, I listened carefully to these folks. I still do. Through their insight I began to identify patterns, and it helped me immensely. Through their help, and trying to develop a humble spirit, I improved my writing. I owe them a lot. Even the crabby ones.

Click to Buy on CBD
To all the writers out there: Reviews are just opinions. That’s it. You have to know yourself well enough to sort the grain from the chaff. When twenty people rave about your characters and one person calls them “flat,” you can toss that negative comment out if you know yourself and your writing. If you know that creating characters is one of your strengths, why would you listen to someone you don’t know who makes a comment that doesn’t ring true? Your mind is not a garbage can. Don’t store trash in it. Knowing who to listen to and who to tune out is one of the greatest weapons you’ll ever have as a writer. Now if several reviewers mention one thing over and over – pay attention. You will learn from it. Reader/reviewers have important things to say, and repeated concerns are usually valid. But when I get a nasty review that’s just goofy – or doesn’t make sense - I tell myself, “Well, I guess I wasn’t writing for that person.” Besides, don’t the letters and emails we get, thanking us for writing something that touched someone personally, mean more than all the other reviews put together? Of course they do. Those are the comments that should remain.

To the reviewers: Be kind. 1 Corinthians 13 isn’t just for Sunday. You need to know that authors DO see their reviews. Especially when a book first releases. Remember that this is their job. Their livelihood. Take that seriously. I worked as a book reviewer for many years. A professional book reviewer for my state’s largest newspaper. Got paid and everything. I NEVER WROTE A NEGATIVE REVIEW. Does that mean I gave everyone a good review? No. If all I could do was just give a synopsis, I did that. If the book was really bad, I simply made an excuse and refused to review it. Maybe you feel some special calling to “be honest with your review.” Bully for you. I feel a special calling not to leave people hurt and bruised by my opinions. How you spend your life is your decision. If unleashing your point of view in an unkind manner is something you’re not willing to compromise, go for it. But before you press “send,” you might give your words one final perusal. Did you sprinkle your review with pithy, hurtful phrases to showcase your incredible deftness with words? Or did you speak the truth in love? (That’s scripture, by the way.) Many times, the kind way to present your negative remarks could be framed as follows: “This is only my opinion. Someone else might really enjoy this book.” Flat out condemning a book as if your point of view is the only right one is unnecessary. Because it’s not.

One important note: Most casual (not full-time) reviewers work hard to review books simply because they love them. Many times there are children at their feet and supper waiting to be made. Even so, they put their hearts and souls into promoting our books – and we should appreciate them. And I do. Many of them have made me cry. The good way. Please understand that without you, we’d have a limited chance to get the word out. We love you. We really do. It’s okay to gush, and it’s okay to say a certain book isn’t for you. No problem there. My other comments are really for folks who are needlessly unkind. They are in the minority. You are in the majority. We respect your time and your dedication. Thank you so much.

Back to the writers: Take the good. Listen to the bad. Keep what’s useful and toss out what isn’t. Don’t be snotty. Don’t comment back on Amazon. (Yes, I know I did this once or twice, but I’m growing!), and most of all…forgive.

And always remember this: When I get in a snit, God whispers these words to me. “You said you wanted to follow this path. This is part of it. Do we go on? Or do we quit?”

To that I say…”Go, Lord! Go!”


Lizzie Engel is used to running away. At eighteen, she left her Mennonite hometown, her family, and her faith with plans never to return. Five years later, Lizzie finds she'll have to run again. False accusations at her job, a stalker, and a string of anonymous threatening letters have left her with no other options. This time, however, her escape is back to Kingdom, her hometown.
As Lizzie becomes reacquainted with Kingdom, she realizes she may not have left her Mennonite roots and her faith as firmly in the past as she thought. She draws on the support of Noah Housler, an old friend, as she hides out and attempts to plan her next steps. When it becomes painfully clear that the danger has followed Lizzie to Kingdom, suspicions and tensions run high, and she no longer knows who to trust. With her life and the lives of those she loves at risk, Lizzie will have to run one last time--to a Father whose love is inescapable.
BIO – Nancy Mehl

Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas with her husband Norman and her very active puggle, Watson. She’s authored twelve books and is currently at work on her newest series for Bethany House Publishing. The first book, “Inescapable,”released this month.

All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,”Nancy says. “God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”

She and her husband attend Believer’s Tabernacle in Wichita.
Find Nancy online:


  1. Excellent advice: "why would you listen to someone you don’t know who makes a comment that doesn’t ring true? Your mind is not a garbage can. Don’t store trash in it. Knowing who to listen to and who to tune out is one of the greatest weapons you’ll ever have as a writer."

    Thanks so much. And May says ("") ("") two paws up to Watson!

  2. I'm learning to roll with the reviews. I can smile when I think of the one for In Too Deep that said, "I have to give this very few stars, there is too much kissing and too much violence in it for an Amish book."

    You know, honestly, that's true. If it'd been an Amish book, that reviewer would've had a great point.

  3. First..welcome to Seekerville.

    See you got two paws already.

    Second, thanks for the laughs. I am laughing because I truly try hard NOT to read reviews and your post reminded me why not.

    You rock for having the guts to tell it like it is.

    My personal favorite (paraphrased)

    ONE STAR * Why?

    "I ordered this book shipped 2 day and it arrived four days late."

  4. I want to second the "don't reply on Amazon".... not even to positive reviews, because that looks like you're full of yourself.

    Just. Don't. Do It.

    I'm conflicted over asking people to never leave bad reviews. There have been some books with handfuls of 5 star reviews and I read it and thought what in the world were they thinking? I can't be the only one that thinks this isn't worth more than 2. Occasionally there's the book that gets the handful of 5 stars and that lone 1 star that says "what were they thinking" and am happy they did so.

    But I'm most glad for the "Look inside" feature. I'm adept enough to know within a page or two whether I'll likely be happy with it and will check out a book that if it intrigued me despite the starred reviews.

    I tend to only read 4-1 star reviews. The 5 star people are either the target audience that would love it no matter what or gushers/cheerleaders. The one/two stars are either the ones that tell the truth or are well, idiots...but you can tell the difference.And just because I find lower starred reviews on something doesn't automatically mean I won't buy it. The 4-3 stars generally give me a better idea of the merits and possible flaws and whether I'd like it.

    But now that I'm writing and potentially working with other authors, I know that I'll keep to myself poor reviews for the same reasons I'll never respond to Amazon reviews -- it looks either egotistical or like sour grapes. But if I find out a reviewer only gives out 5 stars, well, I dismiss them as a reviewer because they aren't likely being honest--there are some great 4 star books that don't make it to your favorites, but that just means you have taste preferences not necessarily that the book wasn't good.

    I leave a variety of 4 and 5s but I'm still conflicted on whether I should give out any 3s, (And of course I would be doing it nicely) so I haven't so far.

  5. Great advice, Nancy!

    I wrote the Illinois version of a series non-fiction book, so every book has the same title except for the name of the state. I was crushed when I read a review by the editor of a highly reputable state journal that dissed me because of my title! Ugh...I thought that very unfair! He made no mention of my work, level of research, etc. Frankly, made me wonder if he even read beyond the title! I can laugh about it now.

  6. I hate the amazon review people that talk about shipping and handling! I want to take them by the hand and sit them down criss-cross applesauce and go over the basics of life to make sure they can survive.

    Amish book. ha ha. Maybe they thought all Christian fiction is Amish.

  7. Oh wait! It's Amish because the hero is wearing suspenders on the cover. Duh!

  8. Before I started writing, I would've thought authors, actors, and singers were very proud people. I think if the readers/reviewers knew the truth, they would be kinder w/their words.

    Nancy, your book sounds fantastic.

    And Mary, I love Amish cowboys.

  9. I agree about the reviews. I try to always be positive and not give away anything not in the first chapter or two. I don't want to know surprises authors leave and hate to be told (just like I hate blurbs that give information that happened towards the end of the book).
    I recently heard read about an author who was getting friends to leave reviews and got really angry about a one star review. I actually read the review and it was done in a very positive way which explained the reason they could only give one star was that they didn't agree with some of the theology (she mention the fact the heroine believed Gods will was for her to never forgive someone but to instead use the anger against them) and they mention the book was quite graphic about some of the scenes and they felt quite uncomfortable reading it and that they were disappointed none of the subject matter was mentioned in the blurb. I appreciated the review as a reader.

    On the other hand I do know many one star reviews are mean spirited and I don't understand the reasoning. Like one who put I haven't read the book but it sounds the same as her last three books and they are all the same just the names are changed.
    I also don't know why someone would read a book if they hate it so much and complain it was a waste of time.

    I know a lot of people do not take much store in Amazon reviews and rarely would I buy a book due to reviews.

    One of the few times I put up a 3 star review I gave positive feedback and then went on to mention the issue I had with the book in this case I though it was a romance and at the end the main couple still were non christians and I did mention this fact. The author kindly responded saying it was Women's Lit and the 2 main characters were 2 Women and one was a Chrisitian (although it was never mentioned in the book) I was able to explain how I thought it was a romance and we were able to clarify the issue.

    ok off to find some sun and hope that will help me improve having a cold on top of everything else is the pits.

  10. Ps Welcome Nancy and I would love to win your book.
    (of course the rate I am now reading books it could by 2020 before I read it! its taking 8+ days for one book and its driving me insain).

  11. I really liked this. Because I know I'll be there one day. But what I don't understand is the perception that a 3 stars out of five is a bad review. 3 is I liked it.
    I give a lot of threes. I give a few more fours and every once in a while, a book that demands a 5, like Kevin Bacon's An Eye For Glory.
    If I couldn't give a book at least a 3 (and there have been some) then I don't review it. And I do make it a point to put it's not my usual genre if I think that might have affected how I liked the story. But I'm with Melissa. I'm suspicious of a book that has all 5 star reviews, especially if there is only ten of them.
    I would think as an author that reviews are like critiques. Its only when you're getting multiple jabs at the same issue you sit up and take more notice.
    What I like about goodreads and Amazon is being able to look at a persons other reviews. Sometimes I can spot a Jesus-hater or someone with a Messiah complex which explains their reviews.
    With Fiction Hero Features, I count on reviews more than ever now so I'm counting on people to be honest. Thank you for those that do and don't just 5 star it because it's your friend or crit partner.

  12. Nancy, thanks so much for being with us! This is a great post!

    I read all my reviews. Can't help myself. And I tend to take them personally. Plus, I'm a perfectionist. So in life, I feel like I have to earn all A's (five stars). So if I see even 3 stars, I feel rotten! I have to learn to let it roll off me and be grateful, like you said, for the time they put into reading and reviewing.

  13. Tina! Seriously? You saw that comment for a one-star review?? That's a review of Amazon or whatever bookseller! How awful.

  14. And let me add, I know 3 stars is good! It's just my perfectionism coming into play. :)

  15. And, might I add, I almost feel guilty when I give 4 star reviews?! LOL

    I'm so weird. ;)

  16. I just had to say if they ever decide not to use suspenders on a hero for fear of it being perceived as Amish that would be a very sad day. If there is an article of male clothing I swoon over it's suspenders. I LOVE suspenders on a man...any man. Hubby knows this, he shields my eyes from oncoming suspender traffic which unfortunately is not bumper to bumper traffic. Sadz.

    Nancy, I think the same thing on 3 stars. I like it. I'm glad I found someone who thinks like me on that! But I've been given flak that 3 stars isn't good by two authors and I just can't make up my mind. I'd be content with 3 star reviews on my own work even if it came from a fellow author. (I think, you'll have to catch me farther down the road and ask me then. :)

  17. See Missy, it's that:
    "So if I see even 3 stars, I feel rotten!"
    which makes me all wishy-washy. Because I now "know" you since we're in the same writers' circles. And I'm afraid you'd take a 3 star review from me harder than John Doe. So there I am, back to not giving out 3 stars.

  18. Amish cowboys...that is a totally unexplored area.

    I must do some brainstorming first...........

  19. I could quote you reviews that'd make your hair curl.
    Maybe I will tomorrow, just to give everyone else a boost.

  20. Nancy K, another thing I notice is different countries have different feeling for some books as much as I know I should have loved Kevin Bacon's An Eye For Glory, I couldn't get past the first couple of chapters cos of one word. In Australia I grew up knowing the word bloody was a swear word and if I said it I was going to cope it something bad. even today in christian circles and the older generation more so its still considered a word not used in polite company. Because of this word being in so much for the first few chapters I just couldn't read a book I was so wanting to read. On the other hand in America it wasn't considered bad. I think the same happens with some aussie books that are reviewed cos we speak in a different way and some words we use come of as edgy or slang in america so often reviews are lower.

  21. Missy I feel like you do about 4 stars. I actually wish it was out of 10 cos I would feel quite happy giving 8 stars as really good. 9 as excellent and 10 as wow (and another author I will curse in the morning cos I didn't get much sleep cos I couldn't put the book down).

  22. A Kansas girl! I've written reviews for a few different online e-zines and I've always tried to find something good to say. For one of the e-zines making an excuse was not an option. If I gave it a DNF (did not finish) I had to tell why. So, I usually forced myself to finish the book and try to find the positive.

    As a writer, an unpublished writer, I've often feared (yeah, I know cast all your anxiety on Him--easier said than done sometimes) reviews. What if they hate it? Of course, I have to get published first. *g*

  23. I read this post as a writer and I read it again as a regular Christian person/ pastors wife. It spoke to me both times, both ways. To learn to separate the wheat from the chaff is vital if we are going to be able to go on and do the work that must be done whether it's writing or any other service for the Lord.

    Thank you Nancy this was a great post.

    I would like to have a chance to win your book.

    KC Frantzen, I love the paw prints.

  24. I read this post as a writer and I read it again as a regular Christian person/ pastors wife. It spoke to me both times, both ways. To learn to separate the wheat from the chaff is vital if we are going to be able to go on and do the work that must be done whether it's writing or any other service for the Lord.

    Thank you Nancy this was a great post.

    I would like to have a chance to win your book.

    KC Frantzen, I love the paw prints.

  25. Jenny, I understand. I recently read a contemporary romance that I would have given 5 stars but one crude reference in it and three what I and a few other reviewers considered mild profanities cost it two stars in my review. Which was tragic because the writing and the characters were brilliant but the reason I took the profanity so hard was because it was a Bethany House title. And I have come to understand recently the English B word is the equivalent of dropping the F bomb here in the states.

    Missy, thanks for adding you know 3 stars is good. 3 stars is "I LIKED IT". I totally get when it's my turn I'll want them to be all 4 or 5 too, but I've NOT bought books before because they were all 5 stars and it looked obvious to me it was all the "friends".

    Melissa, I feel your pain. The first time I had to give a three to someone I actually know, there was that moment of truth when I didn't want to click "publish". But the reason I did at the end of the day is because when I give a 5, the people who follow my reviews and my friends on goodreads know that really means something, and that something is that book fit my reader key exactly and isn't the point finding people with your same style lock so you know if they love it, you'll love it, and if they hated it, you'll probably hate it too and save time? Because let's face it, there's only so many books you can read in a lifetime. I have aspirations of catching up to Vince though. =)
    What annoys me is when people just star it and then don't say why they gave it that many.

  26. Thanks for such a great post Nancy.

    I've recently read a book that was well nice. It was a nice light romance. A solid three stars. I was disappointed because it was the second in a series and I'd really enjoyed the first book a lot more so I jumped on to Amazon to see if other people felt the same.

    Like others, you can spot the cheerleaders straight away, but on the flip side there were then a bunch of one star reviews who clearly felt betrayed by the five stars and were giving it a one star, not because the book was that bad, but to do their "bit" to bring the overall rating of the book down.

    And I completely agree - since when did it become that giving a three was a "bad" review? To me it simply means enjoyed it, but didn't rock my world.

  27. Hi Nancy,

    I'm so glad you visited Seekerville today. I've enjoyed reading all of your books. I'm going to save this post so someday if I get published I can refer back to it when reviews come out.

    Thanks so much!
    Jackie L.

  28. Welcome to Seekerville, Nancy!

    Your latest release looks like a 5 Star to me!!! Love the cover and blurb. Bet the story is lovely, as well.

    Great blog on reviews. I rarely check Amazon. Probably should. I do, however, look at RT. Some reviewers captured the story in their write up better than others. As you mentioned, it's all subjective.

    Less than stellar reviews help authors develop thick skin, which seems to be important in this business. :)

    Love your life's message for your books about how much God loves us and wants the very best for us. So true.


  29. I'm so glad you're at Seekerville today, Nancy! Welcome.

    I do read reviews of my books, but not very often. I'm afraid I take the less complementary ones to heart so it's much better if I use some will power and avoid reading reviews completely.

    Writing is not the right business for the overly sensitive or for anyone without a hard shell!

  30. Hi Nancy, Welcome to Seekerville. Great article on reviews.

    You are right to advise us not to take the reviews to heart unless they are all pointing out the same flaws that could be fixed.

    Reading is subjective and we've mentioned this a lot in Seekerville because of comments from judges in contests. Basically the same thing.

    However, that being said, if you understand Amazon at all, the reviews are critical to sales. Every time a book is reviewed it moves up the list of being featured. The higher the reviews, the higher up the list.

    For example, have you ever ordered a book from Amazon? When you place the order, a list pops up of books saying other people who bought this book also bought---and they show the covers of several books. You click on those and read the info and hopefully order it.

    What contributes to those books popping up are the reviews. So its a game folks. Play the game and help each other out.

    Julie does this well. She has great projects going to get people to write reviews. If Amazon picks up that a book is getting that many reviews, they pop it up. I would wager that Julie's books pop up a lot on order forms because of all the reviews she gets. So the occasional bad review isn't going to hurt you. Not when you have tons of reviews.

    Mary, Your review of In Too Deep is hysterical.

  31. Wow -- fantastic blog post -- obviously a topic that everyone has an opinion on, even May! (who is a dog for those who don't know. Though should you read anything into the fact she only gave two paws when we all know dogs have four? Hmmmm)

    So here's my two cents worth.

    First -- to address the whole five stars issue. I'm a reviewer who always gives five stars and here's why.

    I don't believe in that rating system. I think a reviewer's words should stand on their own. It would be hard enough to summarize one book down to a five star rating but to then consistently (and that's a key word) offer up star ratings to everything you read -- well that's just impossible. At least it is for me.

    Unfortunately now requires that a reviewer assign a star rating. So how do I determine how many stars? Simple -- if I'm going to the trouble of reviewing a book then that means it's five star. And I feel that's an honest rating because I honestly don't read books that don't interest me. I'm not someone who forces herself to continue reading to the bitter end. If the author doesn't capture my interest in the first few chapters I move on to a book that will.

    And I have to admit that this whole five star controversy has left me review shy on sites that require the rating. I don't use a rating system on my review blog but I do give away books as a way of putting my money where my mouth is. :-)

  32. Oops...and please don't add me in to the draw because I've already read, reviewed and given away a copy of Inescapable! Love all your books Nancy -- you have a gift for messing with this reader's emotions and that keeps me coming back for more!

  33. Wow! Just got up and look at all the wonderful comments! You guys get up early! To tell you all the truth, I rewrote this article several times. I really felt unsure about it. Just before I sent it in, I realized I hadn't told all the bloggers, like Ausjenny (someone I've admired for many years), how much they are appreciated. Just because there are unfair reviews (and really funny comments) sometimes, it certainly doesn't take away from the incredible job so many reviewers do to promote books they love. You may not know about the times you lift our spirits and make us cry because of your encouraging words - but know that you impact us almost every day. Thanks you do much. (S)

  34. Welcome to Seekerville, Nancy! Thanks for your excellent and rational advice about book reviews. :-) And mega thanks for the reminder that we're writing for God's glory. I love that you said:

    "He has a good plan for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”

    That includes less than perfect reviews. :-)


  35. Nancy, I'm with you...grateful for those who do submit reviews. Sandra's right, they can move a book forward. Also mention of a book on a blog drives sales, as well. I always appreciate comments about my stories.

  36. It's good to be back in Seekerville today! (For those of you who didn't notice, I was out of computer range for a few days. Yes, it was fabulous.)

    Thanks for stopping by, Nancy!

    I'm not sure how I feel about reviews. When I write them, I always give a good review. After all, I read the book, there were things about it I liked, and potential buyers need to know what I liked about it.

    On the other hand, I rarely review books anymore because I hate saying anything negative on the internet. It never goes away, does it?

    One book I read was part of a series, and I had read and positively reviewed the previous books - but this one just didn't live up to the others. I hated writing that review because I knew the author and everyone else would be reading it. So I gave it a lower star rating, told everything I liked about it...and one or two things that bothered me.

    I know when I'm published I'll have to decide whether to read the reviews or not, and your post has convinced me that maybe I should. We'll see if I'm brave enough when the time comes!

  37. BRAVO, NANCY, BRAVO (STANDING OVATION HERE)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    WONDERFULLY written piece that is SO overdue!!! You took the words right out of my mouth, only yours were kinder, softer and ... CALM.

    I LOVE your statement that: "I imagine that the reviewer who hates my sleepy child character has issues."

    I strongly feel this way too. In fact, that's a standard joke between my husband and I when I get a particularly scathing 1-star review. We calmly nod our heads, quite sure the reviewer has issues and prays that she gets the help she needs.

    Okay, not so much a nod but a flying hand, and not so much "calm" as bellowing, but seriously, after I have my own personal mini-rant, that reviewer gets slapped on my prayer hit list. Because whether they have issues or not, I apparently do and the only way I know to tackle them is to pray for those who hurt me. So in all honestly, the prayers of blessing I heap on their heads are more for me than them, but those type of reviewers definitely get the fringe benefit of blessing and prayer. WARNING: This is NOT a carte blanche for lambasting me with 1-stars so you can get prayer, PLEASE!!!

    Nancy, you also said: "I feel a special calling not to leave people hurt and bruised by my opinions. How you spend your life is your decision."

    I am now standing on my chair, screaming and clapping for you, my friend -- and, oh, -- I DEFINITELY want someone like YOU as friend! There is WAY too little courtesy and kindness in this world, so I will gravitate to all the kind and loving people I can. And, you, my dear friend, need to be at the top of the list.

    God bless you and your ministry for Him!


  38. No need to put my name in for the drawing, I'm on chapter twenty of Inescapable and only put it down long enough to read Nancy's post.

    I was up late last night thinking 'ok just one more chapter' but that didn't happen, the book has me on the edge of my seat... maybe I can sneak in a nap this afternoon and I'm a whole lot older than Charity

    As a reviewer I only give 4 and 5 stars because I review to help the author promote their book. If I can't say something nice I won't say anything.

  39. Nancy, thanks for the post and all the insights you shared. I haven't reviewed a lot of books yet. This is obviously a topic where everyone has an opinion.

    I'm still forming my opinion about reviews, but with books I've reviewed so far, I keep the words gracious rather than critical.

    I love reading everyone's take on giving reviews. I have a lot to think on. Thanks!

  40. This is such wonderful advice, Nancy, for everyone.

    Your statement: And always remember this: When I get in a snit, God whispers these words to me. “You said you wanted to follow this path. This is part of it. Do we go on? Or do we quit?”

    Really hit home. I've learned there's always going to be one, or ten, you just can't please everyone.


  41. Fantastic post, Nancy! Love your honesty and LOL humor! This is a keeper!

  42. I disagree that 3 is good.
    I consider them a grade.
    A B C D
    If you give me a 3 it's giving me a C on my test. Not a great grade. Passing, sure. But mediocre.

  43. You know the reviews that really get me?
    The really cruel one-star reviews that (I click and check) are the ONLY REVIEW THE REVIEWER HAS EVER GIVEN!!!
    They created an identity just to slam me.

    Yes, that has happened to me many times.

    I blame a particularly spiteful former sister in law.

  44. Nancy, what a gracious lady you are. I'll need to reread this post in about six months. I'm excited about my book release and dreading it at the same time because of those subjective things called reviews.

    Since I work in a library, I get the fun of introducing readers to different authors. I have had some very happy readers lately who found our selection of Nancy Mehl books. A lot of our older ladies who don't have and/or know how to use computers to review things, LOVE your books. There's a whole audience out there that you'll never hear from, but as a librarian, I hear it. Christian fiction is a big draw in libraries. One lady told me this week, when I'm feeling down, I just pick up one of these books (Christian fiction) and I immediately start feeling better.

    Mary, I nearly snorted my chocolate milk when I read your comment. Amish?! I'm still laughing. :-)

    5 Stars - I give five stars, too. If I liked the book enough to tell others about it, it's a 5***** in my opinion. And that's exactly what it is--an opinion. I've only ever given a 1 star review and that was on a book I felt had been badly misrepresented as Christian, and after reading was NOT. So I just did a one star and said basically this isn't Christian fiction and left it at that.

  45. A particular favorite, for Petticoat Ranch......remember this was my first release (which is no doubt why I remember it so vividly)
    It's dated March 10 so Petticoat Ranch had been out a month.
    It begins..........

    Demeaning Women: Strong Women Taught to Cower to Men, it deserves a Zero Stars
    It has been a long time since I have been so angry and disgusted with a book.
    (Mary-it goes on in this vein for about five hundred words. If I was editing it I'd recommend the author try to find new words. She overused the word 'disgusting' to a terrible degree)
    And it ends.....

    A book that demeans and portrays strong women cowering to men? Women pretending to be weak? DO NOT READ

    (Mary-now, okay SERIOUSLY? Petticoat Ranch demeans women? I had Sophie and her daughters save that ranch! I had them be the toughest, smartest, savviest little bunch of lady ranchers ever to appear on paper!!!? cowering to men???????)

    I am, of course COMPLETELY OVER IT!!!

  46. Bless you for this Nancy!
    You've got good advices... AND a sense of humour! =)
    I used to not be in this reviewing thing, until I learned that it could really help the authors I like (And I read alot). I remember being completely SHOCKED at what some reviewers would write! Dear Lord, writers have put time and effort into this work! So now, whenever there's a book I don't like, I try to find something positive to say AND speak the truth in love (like you said).

    Thank you for this post, I hope many read it and listen.

    Go you great Christian Authors (and readers)!

  47. Mary, Petticoat Ranch was the first book of yours I read, and I loved it so much, I read it outloud to my younger sisters. We loved those STRONG women who could defend themselves and their homes.

    That reviewer was no doubt on some mind-altering medication. Or a zombie. Or both.

  48. You all have made me laugh...and get teary-eyed this morning. Thanks for the kind comments.

    About the library remarks, my dil is a librarian too! Love libraries!

    If I do get angry, it's with the reviews that warn other people not to buy our books. How can someone say something like that? This is the way many of us make our living! It's thoughtless and unkind. And I know what you mean about the one-star reviews where the online personality was created just to slam you and your book. Now those people really need our prayers. It's personal. Someone who either knows us and doesn't like us (and I thought everyone loved me!) or someone who is jealous of something.

    I'm also with you about 3 star reviews, Mary. Don't like 'em! It's a "C!" LOL!

  49. This comment has been removed by the author.

  50. You know, I forgot to mention that I used to review. Then the group I was reviewing with went to a star system and I quit. Stars or roses or points isn't acceptable to me.

  51. This is a WONDERFUL post, Nancy. THANK you! I only rarely give 3s, but I'm also rare with 5s too (more so LOL).

    Would LOVE to win this book. It sounds fabulous!!

  52. Nancy
    thank you so much for this post. i've never read any of your books, but then, there's a lot of wonderful authors who visit Seekerville that i didn't know about before. (I think I need to get out more *heh*)YAY! a new author for me to explore.

    The way you speak makes me want to rush out and buy all your books and read them - just because.

    and Mary:

    how in blazes would ANYONE with a brain have cause to ever give you a 1 star rating?????

    if there was ever an author who is so in my wheelhouse of what i love to read IT'S YOU. you're an automatic WISH LIST/BUY author to me. i guess i should go create an Amazon identity specifically to tell the world how great you write.

    um, i'm sort of social media challenged. i probably already have an amazon id - but no reviews.

    MARY, as the kids say, YOU ROCK!

    (just felt it necessary to yell that, apologies to anyone's bleeding ears)

  53. Thanks for the post, Nancy.

    I have a 9 year old who still takes naps after a hard day at school. ;-) I make her so I don't go insane myself.

    I don't do a lot of reviews, I don't get many reviews. maybe I should be grateful. But I've had the review to my face and have had to bite my tongue so I wouldn't pound someone.

    I'm not big on the whole star system.

    I just want happy faces.

    I don't care for the 1 -5 numbering for reviews. If we must use numbers I wished there were .25's, .5's and .75's and so on in the mix. Just so I could give a closer number and perhaps drive myself crazy along the way.

    I look at 3 as a good mark. 4's as great and 5's as awesome. I rarely give 5's.

    As for just leaving a number... I am guilty of that sometimes, I don't always have the time or words to say.

    Mary -- you really should work on toning down your violent Amish Books... that's too funny. And here I didn't even realize it was an Amish story, boy am I out of it.

  54. I love the idea of happy faces! That would be so much better than those icky stars. Even when I get four stars my first thought is...what didn't they like???? LOL!

  55. I'm still laughing about the Amish cowboys. LOL!

    I'm reading Mary's book "In Too Deep" right now. "Over the Edge" is sitting right next to me, on my bookshelf!

  56. BTW Intercourse, Pennsylvania? Seriously?
    They probably meant in a completely harmless way and the language has turned it into something offensive.

  57. The thing with the 'amish' reference for In too Deep is, they couldn't have read it, right? I mean they couldn't have read one full page and not caught onto it being NOT Amish, and yet in the review they mentioned a few things that made me think they must have read it, reference to internal scenes that weren't like...on the back cover.

    No idea where that came from.

  58. Great article, Nancy! So true and so funny.

    It's a shame that what makes a good fiction writer - a sensitive soul - also makes us more easily wounded.

    I've mentally written dozens of clever, pithy comebacks to snarky reviewers. I've never posted them. Like Julie, I add Miss Snarky-Pants to my prayer list. She needs prayer way more than a pithy comeback.

    Personally, I choose to post only 4-5 star reviews for fiction - if it's 3 or less in my eyes, I just don't post. I do "recommendations" rather than "reviews." However, I'm a professional author, not a professional reviewer. I have no problem with people who do post negative reviews, as long as they're based on merit (delivery time? Kissing Amish cowboys? Please.) and in a respectful tone.

  59. Thanks you, DebH. It helps me deal with the 'disgusting' review.

    I had someone tell me once that if you were going to read reviews and take them to heart you had to do that with both the good ones and the bad ones.
    If you're going to believe all the terrible things that get said, you've got to believe all the good things.
    Honestly, both are mostly a waste of mental and emotional energy...I suppose.

  60. One of my favorite things to do is reviewing books! I always leave good reviews because as a reader ......... my goal is to uplift the author. I would love to read this book! Thanks for the chance to win!

  61. I had a particularly vicious review once that said my heroines sounded like the author was stuck in an 1950s mindset because they wouldn't leave their husbands and endured bad times. (these are usually references on my part to the DEAD husbands, they don't want to leave the heroes)

    I didn't reply but I wanted to say, "Look, dork, it's not a 1950s mindset, it's an 1870s mindset. Women didn't get divorced back then. They didn't leave their husbands no matter how loathesome."

  62. Nancy, This post is a breath of the very freshest air! Like you, I don't review books I can't rate highly. But even with books I'm not crazy about, I can ALWAYS find something redeeming about them, especially in the CBA. And I remember that even if I don't care for a book, even a bestselling book, there are many people who love that same book and were blessed by it in ways that can't be measured. Who am I to bash or take away from that? Your points are well taken, every one.

    We are called to live out Scripture and speak the truth in love even with reviews. Thank you for a courageous, insightful, savvy post. And thanks to Mary C., too:)

  63. Loved this post! Didn't realize the power of reviews to hurt, even after getting published.
    Excellent advice for published and unpublished authors too. Judges comments have the same power to hurt the unpublished, if we let them. But your comment sealed it for me: "And always remember this: When I get in a snit, God whispers these words to me. “You said you wanted to follow this path. This is part of it. Do we go on? Or do we quit?”
    Brought tears to my eyes--thanks for that!

  64. Thanks, Laura. And to everyone else for their kind remarks. NOW I'm glad I wrote this article! LOL!

  65. Forgot to mention, please don't enter me in the drawing. I'm going to buy this book as I'm so won over by this wonderful post:) Thanks again, Nancy.

  66. Oh, man I'm late today!!!

    So loved all of this. I don't have any reviews yet but I'm bookmarking this for the day I do.

    And I HAVE written mean reviews but they were for YA books trying to suck kids into something unsavory, like glorifying drug use or promiscuity. That gets my goat. That's not cutting edge. That's old and tired.

    Anyway, I'm mostly worried that there won't be ANY reviews from people I know. Because people I know are pretty nice and if they can't say something helpful or kind, they just... don't. :D

    But then again, I've heard recently, "I still respect you even though you write romances".

    It can't get much wrose than that, right???

    Don't tell me if it can...

  67. Great food for thought, Nancy.
    Maybe all those professor reviews I get every semester are going to come in handy one day :-)
    Even in the midst of the funny or hurtful, thanks for bringing our focus back to the BIG idea. GOD - and His perspective.

    Sometimes that perspective is hard to remember when we're seeing red. :-)

  68. Kav, well said! I like that point of 5 stars because you don't like the star systtem. Neither do I. It's not worth much unless it super love or super hate.

    And if I read the whole thing, it means it's a five. I don't have any time to waste and I'm super picky.

    Although, when I worked in a library, I had plenty of time to review books and I admit I read a few really awful books just for the laugh factor.

    Hm. Maybe I should do that more.

    Or not.

  69. Very well said. No need to include me in the giveaway. I just finished reading and reviewing Inescapable, which I enjoyed.

    Had to laugh at the nap comment. I have a seven year old who, though he pretty much gave up naps two years ago, is very content to sit and draw for hours because he plans to be a "chef artist". When he's not drawing, he does all the usual stuff--video games, sports, TV, books, and yes, helping me in the kitchen (in preparation for the other half of his chosen career).

    But none of this should be surprising. We live in a culture wherein everyone has an opinion about everything, and most want their 5 minutes of fame, even if it's only via trashing someone else online. Authors who take this stuff in stride are made of a special metal.

  70. Well said, Nancy. Another one of unbelievable reviewer scenario I've seen lately: Barnes and Noble gives out a FREE Nook book every Friday. So where do people go to complain when they don't like the genre of the book being given away FOR FREE on any given Friday? To the review page for the book that was fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to be given away FOR FREE that day. People...

  71. I'm a professor, and there's a commercial website called "". My students use it all the time to evaluate potential professors. Students rate you with chili peppers according to how hot you are. I looked at my profile one time and swore never to go back. It's one thing to handle negative reviews, but it's crazy-making to read positive ones and fail to believe them! Sometimes you just have to keep your own perspective and know you're trying to glorify God with your work, and that's the goal.

  72. Oh, Nancy, such words of wisdom!!! Thank you for this clear and honest perspective on both writers' and reviewers' approach to book reviews.

    I really have been trying to follow Tina's lead in NOT reading reviews (or at least the 1-, 2-, or even 3-star reviews). The 4+-reviews are sweet music to my ears!

    My debut novel (One Imperfect Christmas, 2009) has certainly run the gamut because readers either REALLY relate to the heroine's struggles or just want to slap her up the side of the head and send her to therapy. So I try to keep that in mind every time I notice a negative review has been posted.

  73. I have enjoyed everyone's contribution in the comments so far. I'm not attempting to change your mind Mary that 3 stars is not a bad review. I know there are a lot of authors/readers who think that. I am saying that I don't think it is because when I hover over it it says "i liked it" on goodreads and "it's okay" on Amazon. And I have in my head from the Genesis scoresheet that 3 is average, so if anything I blame the entire Christian fiction industry from having so many quality reads out there it's pretty tough to pull a 5 from me.

    Although for the record, I don't like the stars either, LOL. It's why I went with orange heads instead on my blog. Because I'm different like that and so that people wouldn't associate it with reviews/traditional ratings.

  74. Nancy,

    I so hear you about the reviews. I'm not sure they should necessarily be called "reviews" because that implies the person is a professional reviewer and knows how to review a book. Maybe most Amazon reviews should be called opinions. LOL

    One thing I've learned about reviews and I'm talking not just book but all products, is to read through a sample of all the reviews. The good, the mediocre, and the ugly--that way I can better understand why someone gives a certain opinion. Is the opinion based on anything substantial, or just a personal rant. I'm with you in feeling the frustration with low stars that don't reflect the real substance of the book, but rather some silly issue.

    Fortunately, I think most of us know how much or how little to read into any particular review.

    And in the end, we can hope that the true substance and value of the book will outshine the frivolous reviews, if there are any.


  75. Mary, I still think it's the suspenders that made her think it was Amish. She's only got one other review and it's an Amish book, so she probably picked it up because of the suspenders on the cover and wasn't discerning enough to figure out it didn't fit with her preconceived notion of what genre it was.

    And I would LOVE to not put up stars. That would be awesome. That I could do. That's what I did on my Inspirational Historical Fiction Index Page. I have the choice of writing a comment or clicking "Recommended," "Page Turner," "Entertaining," or "Emotionally Moving." You either feel led to mark it for one of those or not. So come influence there if you read a historical!!! and if you write historical I'd love a link on your website to get more people there.

    I need to put it out on more library sites, I got the Tulsa Library to include it on their web page so I get a lot of hits from there, so I need to email more libraries.

    But for influencing I figure I need to go somewhere more prominent. Is there any place big that doesn't use a rating system? I don't think so.

  76. I just couldn't stay away because this is a topic that really gets me going. :-)

    There's a one star review for Grand Illusions by Lisa. T. Bergren. The reason for the one star? The reviewer DID NOT get it from a free book distribution website because the website mentioned it was Christian. Said reviewer wasn't going to touch that because Christians are all out to rob you of your mind, spirit etc. So this reviewer posted a 1 star review for a book that not only did she NOT read, but she had absolutely no intention of reading. Argh!

    There's a button you can click on to report abuse of the review system and I did that ages ago but I checked and the review is still there which really irks me. I mean even if they didn't want to bother with the fact that the reviewer had no right to review something she didn't read, her remarks were quite slanderous to a faith. Shouldn't that be construed as abuse and therefore taken down?

  77. And I thought I'd mention that when I worked as a waiter at a hotel, there was a way to rate me, there is probably a way to rate your servers at any restaurant. It's those little cards they should have out somewhere that says "Rate your service" you put your opinion of my service in the comments and mail them in. We got them often where I worked. You only get stellar or horrible reviews that way. Generally if they remembered a name it was to give you kudos, but when we got a bad review we were talked to by the boss.

    Oh, and Intercourse used to mean communication/conversation, Mary, and anyone else wondering why'd they use that, it's only "recently" about 1800 that it referred to sex but I don't know how long it took from first recorded use to be used normally for that in conversation. That's why I get a little miffed at the P&P movie with Kiera where Mr. Collins preaches and stumbles over the word intercourse, cuz really, then, it wouldn't have been funny.

    And just for fun "conversation" used to refer to sex. So the words kind of flip flopped. Having intercourse instead of conversation would have been a lot more appropriate to talk about prior to 1800 :)

    So Intercourse Pennsylvania was founded in 1754 so they would have thought nothing about it.

  78. Nancy, that's a great point that you'll be more likely to buy a book if it also has lower stars, because it looks more like a variety of people have read it. I need to remember that point! :)

  79. Melissa, I'd never want anyone to feel bad about giving a 3, and then have them avoid doing a review! It's just a head thing for me. Something I'm learning to deal with. :)

    So please don't avoid doing reviews for me! LOL

  80. My previous comment to Nancy was for nancy Kimball!

  81. I finally get on the computer and wow, what I have missed today.

    I write reviews that point out something about romance writing that readers may not know and how the author has done a stellar job at doing in their book.

    I figured my style of reviewing ought to teach something after reading some really strange reviews like Mary's and Tina's.

    I also do not believe reviews should be a synopsis of the entire story. But that is just me.

    I have written to some writers when I had some concerns, very few, and only ones I love and care about. And now I am paid back in spades winning critiques. Argh!

    Please put me in the drawing!

    Peace to all, Julie

  82. When I could only write a synopsis of a book when I worked for the paper, I certainly didn't tell the whole story. Giving away the ending or important plot points are a no-no! And I've seen that happen too.

    One of the funniest comments I ever got came from a gal who liked my book but hated the cover. According to her, the image on the cover didn't look anything like the picture she had in her head for my main character.

    The only thing you could see on the cover was the back of the main character's head! LOL!

  83. KC - Just saw the "two paws up to Watson!"

    He says, "Two paws back to May!"

  84. Hadn't planned to read through the comments - uverse guy been here all day and have stuff to do but of course I stopped by Seekerville.

    But I saw Mary's comment about her Amish review.

    Um... Amish? Really? I don't even know how someone could mistake it for Amish!

    Anyway... I do a fair bit of reviewing but not TONS. I generally only pick books to review or influence that I expect to enjoy.

    That said... if I get a REVIEW copy [as opposed to influencer] I feel obligated to review. One fairly recently I so wanted to love and just didn't :(. I didn't connect with the characters at all. I did say nice things and mentioned that in passing but still gave it a 7/10 or so. More recently, I read one I really, really didn't care for - I wrote the review and sent it to several people to make sure I wasn't JUST being harsh and said some good stuff [the whole sandwich thing].

    I hate that. I don't offer to review books I don't expect to like for that very reason.

    It's the one thing I'm dreading most about getting published...

    Back later to scroll through...

  85. on the A B C D F system. I averaged a C and thought it was good it wasn't a D.
    I guess its a glass half full or glass half empty type of thing.

    (or course when you have to drink 3 litres of liquid a day glass half empty is much better).

    Mary I laughed so much in Petticoat ranch, It didn't so women cowering it showed women being smart to try and pacify a man.

  86. on the Intercourse PA I had to look it up. wouldn't want to live there.
    it reminds me of a suburb in Perth Western Australia called Innaloo. (not sure if Americans use the term loo as another name for a toilet but Aussies do and we get a laugh at this name)

  87. Myra, you comment about your heroine they either relate or want to slap her across the head. I was one of them really wanted to slap her. but I also thinks its the sign of a good book where the author invokes such passion in a reader.

  88. Okay 10yo offered to clean the basement living room in exchange for money to buy her little brother a birthday present next week ;).

    Having read the comments...

    I've never given below a 3/5 and rarely those. I use a 10 point on my blog because it allows for more variation and I also use parts of a point. Since I started doing that, I've not given out a 10. Tricia Goyer's Titanic book came close with a 9.75 and Mary's In Too Deep [that's book 2 right?] was over 9.

    I guess I feel by agreeing to review, I've entered a contract to give my honest opinion. But nicely. I've not run into something so awful I didn't feel like I could say something nice.

    If I know the author [like I did with one of the books I mentioned], I emailed her ahead of time and told her the gist of it and that I was looking forward to her next book because it's about my favorite character. She was very sweet about it.

    And now I really have to get to work on some other stuff. ;)

  89. Loved your post today and good to see you here Nancy, I am a reader and a reviewer and I have never given a bad review -there are ways to say what you like about the book without lot of negatives. I love to read and would appreaciate a change to get your book...and review it.
    thanks Paula O(

  90. I LOVE YOU.

    'Sall I'm saying. That's it, in a nutshell.

    Well, let me add this:

    No one should read their reviews. But since we do, I love Nancy's equation to treat the good and the bad equally.

    Only I like the good ones. :)

    You know, people get weird. I was a Tupperware sales manager a long time ago and a hostess treated me horribly. Really horribly. It was bizarre, and I was hurt and embarrassed.

    She tried to kill herself later that week.

    The point is she didn't hate ME, she hated EVERYTHING...

    I was just in the way.

    But they really should change the name of that town. I have to glance down every time I pass the sign.


  91. You know reviews now are like contests:

    If you give a contest entry a 96/100 nowadays, it probably won't final. Because to final you need to have nearly perfect scores.

    And this has transferred to reviews. A 3 Star RT review is a good review. A 4 is higher...4 1/2 is wonderful.

    But if we get a "3" we cringe.

    We're dolts. But the system is warped a bit. I gave a couple of people "4's" back in the day. I thought they'd never speak to me again. I learned my lesson. It's 5's or nothing.

    Yes, I'm a wimp! But I'm a nice wimp and a good friend.

    But here's the thing: I NEVER READ REVIEWS of other books. If the book looks good, if the concept grabs me, if it's recommended by a friend, I buy it.

    If my kid says "You need to understand what's going on on Wall Street, or Main Street, or Nashville or in the garment industry, you should read this book" I buy it. Because my kids know I'm eclectic and like learning for knowledge' sake.

    And they're smart and don't spend my money stupidly.

    But I would no more make a decision on a review from some unknown person than I would give away a Mint Ting A Ling ice cream cone. It won't happen.

    But if someone in the store says, "Wow, that top looks great on you! I love it!"

    I buy it. Because that's an honest review, LOL!

  92. I have not much in the way of reviews (except a wonderful review by Vince). Hopefully, I'll have the stomach for it.

  93. I love to review books on my blog. I am selective on what books I choose to review but in the couple of years I have been reviewing there is only one book I couldn't really get into. But, I appreciated the fact that the author poured themselves into the manuscript and a publisher felt it had value. I'm sure it was probably a very good book but not my cup of tea. I gave an honest review and I was nice and didn't trash the book.

    I have read some reviews on books that I have read and absolutely loved but the reviews were so negative that it was hard for me to believe the person read the same book I did. But that's because we as readers are all different with very different tastes.

    Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  94. Ausjenny said: "I also thinks its the sign of a good book where the author invokes such passion in a reader."

    That's what I have to keep telling myself, Jenny. ;>D

  95. GREAT post, Nancy--thank you! I especially liked your comment: "Your mind is not a garbage can--don't store trash in it"--WOW! (that's one of those phrases that just jumped out at me, LOL). ~ Seriously you offered some wonderful words of wisdom here (along with some humor), so thank you for taking the time to share with us today. CONGRATS on your newest book--looks fascinating. Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo :)

  96. Myra I have to admit I am not normally a violent person but some books make me want to do really bad damage to a book. A couple of times in a LIH I wanted the bad guy hung, drawn and quartered and even then it would be to nice to them but had to settle for them being humiliated.
    I read one from another line where they actually did something bad to the bad guy and I was so happy. (I really am not a violent person I promise).
    You redeemed Natalie at the end.
    (if I was violent I would knock this cold I now have into the middle of next week!).

  97. Thanks to everyone who stopped by. I had so much fun!

    And thanks, Mary. (S)

  98. Wise words.

    It is possible to be honest without being hurtful.


  99. i am one of the reviewers. i do think i can be honest and kind at the same time. if i have anything negative to say about the book, i say it's not my type or genre. i try to build up the author, because i love books and am a readaholic! But thanks for the reminder, Nancy. It doesn't hurt to look at these things once in a while.

  100. Beautifully said, Nancy. I'm saving this for when/if/ever I actually have a book people can review - oh that amazing, frightening, elusive first step toward receiving a negative review!

  101. would love to win your book! I know It will be good

  102. Hi Nancy, I came to this post late. Saw it on the Laube Agency blog today.
    Everything you said is so right on, and helpful!! I'll try to remember every word. (When my second novel came out, one of the first reviews to show up on Amazon was a 1 star. Aargh. Fortunately it got buried by later reviews, but I'm still smarting several books later. :)

  103. I am an avid reader. I review books for several publishers as part of their blogging programs. I have only left a one star rating once. And, truthfully, it probably should have been a two star. I was honest in my review. I try to take into account the fact that the author has spent time on the book and appreciate that. Even if it's not my type, it might be someone else's favorite.

    I'd love to be entered to win your book Nancy.