Wednesday, March 9, 2016

FACE YOUR FEARS: A “Novel" Approach to One-Star Reviews!



A "NOVEL" APPROACH TO ONE-STAR REVIEWS!


Julie here, and since the Seeker theme for 2016 and for Speedbo is “Face Your Fears,” I decided to talk about (although “ramble” might be a better word) one of the biggest fears I have had as an author—the fear of receiving negative reviews, particularly the one-star variety.

Let’s face it. For the author, a one-star review is like an F on a term paper, strike three for a batter, or a pink slip instead of a paycheck. A rating that basically says as far as that reviewer is concerned, you and your writing are nothing more than a big, fat failure.

Ouch. 

Or in the words of Elizabeth Taylor, “I fell off my pink cloud with a thud.”

Failure. It’s a fear every person wrestles with and yet, without failure, there is no success. According to C.S. Lewis, “failures are finger posts on the road to achievement,” and I wholeheartedly agree, especially for writers. Because each rejection, each one-star review, each contest entered where the scores are low have the potential to teach us, humble us, mold us into the people (and writers) that God wants us to be. Why? I think Mr. Morihei Ueshiba, founder of the Japanese martial art of aikido, says it best:

“Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something.”

Can I hear a big fat AMEN??

Want proof? How ‘bout a little quiz to prove Mr. Ueshiba’s point? Below are eight true scenarios about eight famous people. Can you guess who they are? Answers will be listed below the quiz by number, so give it a shot. Because I don’t know about you, but these so-called “failures” sure inspired me!

1.) After being cut from his high school basketball team, he went home, locked himself in his room and cried. 

2.) He wasn’t able to speak until he was almost 4 years old, and his teachers said he would “never amount to much.” 

3.) Was demoted from her job as a news anchor because she “wasn’t fit for television.” 

4.) Fired from a newspaper for “lacking imagination” and “having no original ideas

5.) At 30 years old, he was left devastated and depressed after being unceremoniously removed from the company he started. 

6.) A teacher told him he was “too stupid to learn anything” and that he should go into a field where he “might succeed by virtue of his pleasant personality.”

7.) Was rejected by Decca Recording Studios who said, “We don’t like their sound … they have no future in show business.” 

8.) His fiancé died, he failed in business, had a nervous breakdown, and was defeated in eight elections. 

ANSWERS:
1.) Michael Jordan
2.) Albert Einstein
3.) Oprah Winfrey
4.) Walt Disney
5.) Steve Jobs
6.) Thomas Edison
7.) The Beatles
8.) Abraham Lincoln

As two-time Olympic gold medalist and FIFA Women's World Cup winner, Mia Hamm, so wisely stated, “Failure happens all the time. It happens every day in practice. What makes you better is how you react to it.”

Which brings me right back to those pesky one-star reviews. How do we react to them? Well, if you’re Julie Lessman, you cry, you rant, and then you OD on chocolate. OR you can check out the following blogs:



Don’t get me wrong—I am 100% for constructive criticism, which is why I think entering contests is one of the most important things an aspiring author can do. Frankly the constructive criticism I received from contest judges and paid critiques was the #1 thing that helped me to hone my craft as a writer, so BRING IT ON!

And, yes, I’ve even had a few low-star reviews that were truly “seasoned with grace,” explaining in a kind, nonjudgmental, and truly Christian manner as to why they rated the book so low, which believe it or not, I greatly appreciated.

But it’s when the “constructive” criticism becomes “destructive” criticism that I have a problem. Especially in the Christian market where “love” is proclaimed in the Bible as the greatest thing of all. Because I guarantee you that when I received reviews that called my book “smut,” “scum reading” and maligned my marriage, my husband, and my faith, and Mary Connealy received reviews that called her work “pornographic” and “x-rated,” neither of us were quite feeling “the love.”

Did it hurt? You bet.
Did we cry? Not sure about Mary, but I sure did.
Did it damage our confidence? Speaking for myself? Yes, for a while.

Until something pretty crazy began to happen. 

You see, I began to view my 1-star reviews as a ministry of sorts, applying Luke 6:28— bless those who curse you, pray for those who hurt you—to every single nasty or 1-star review I received. 

Now, I’m not exactly sure when it all happened, but somewhere between the first nasty one-star review and the 94th, I suddenly saw myself as hand-picked by God to pray for these reviewers because my words had obviously triggered something painful in them. According to blogger/author Anne R. Allen in her blog What Authors Need to Know to Stay Safe Online, “cruel, angry reviews say more about the reviewer than they do about your book.” 

Which means as writers and authors, we don’t just trigger revelation and blessing in our readers’ lives, we also detonate time bombs of pain, sometimes slashing into deep, dark places that may not have seen the light of day until our book exposed that festering nerve. And we all know that when people hurt, they have a tendency to hurt back. Sometimes with nasty reviews. 

We are Christian writers and authors. Which means we not only have a ministry to bless our readers whose lives we touch on behalf of God, but also those readers whose lives we disrupt for whatever reason. Consequently, I now see one-star reviews as a golden opportunity and privilege to pray for that reviewer, allowing God to turn all my nasty rejection into blessing on the head of someone He loves so much, he’s Masterminded a way that our hurt can not only bless that person, but us as well. 

And sometimes—not always, mind you, but sometimes—if I’m truly blessed, that same reviewer is also praying for me right back, like the reviewer in the review header pic for this blog. And I gotta tell you—-that turns that great big frown on my face into a great big smile. Because I ask you—Who else but God can take something as hurtful as a nasty one-star review and turn it into a win-win for all the people involved?

Nobody else I know. :)


GIVEAWAY!
Okay, it’s your turn. If you’re an author who has received a one-star review, how did it affect you and how did you handle it? Or just leave a comment, and you’re in the draw for one of three e-copies of either Isle of Hope or A Glimmer of Hope.

BONUS GIVEAWAY!
Did you know that my favorite novel I have ever written—A Hope Undaunted—is now available for FREE DOWNLOAD?? Well, it’s true, and this is the book that made Booklist’s Top Ten Inspirational Books for 2010, so check it out HERE!

ABOUT JULIE:
Award-winning author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, and Heart of San Francisco series, Julie was named American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards. She has garnered 17 RWA and other awards and made Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction. Her novel, Surprised by Love, appeared on Family Fiction magazine’s list of Top Ten Novels of 2014 and her most recent novel, Isle of Hope, was voted as one of Family Fiction magazine's Top 15 Best Books of 2015. Her indie book A Light in the Window is an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers' Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner. You can contact Julie on Facebook, Twitter, or www.julielessman.com, where you can read excerpts of her favorite romantic and spiritual scenes from each of her books.

Check out this week's Speedbo Incentives here.


131 comments:

Trixi said...

Great post Julie, I so appreciate your honesty and openness on how those 1 star ratings affected you. But what I loved the most, is how God used those to jump-start your praying for those reviewers! WOW!! Because I can tell you THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT GOD IS DOING FOR ME!!!! Not the writer/review part, but applying Luke 6:28 to my own life and praying for those who hurt me in any way, shape or form. Is it easy....NO WAY because my natural tendency is to hurt back or say mean things back. However, what does that solve but to let anger fester and have a good ole' time in my heart?? Then my witness is blown right out of the water. UGH!!! So since I've started praying for that person or situation, I began to see God move. More times than not, right before my eyes, it takes a complete 180 degree turn....WOW!! Not only that, but I feel the change in my heart & spirit. I begin to see who the real enemy is and have more compassion and understanding for that person....Crazy huh?? Maybe that's the whole point God's trying to make, molding me to be more like Him!! Is it always easy, or fun?? NOOOO!! Do I ever feel cheated, like I'm the only one that has to "lose"? YESSSS!! BUT....I know I will shine brighter for Him every time I'm obedient to His word and do what He says in it. Like gold refined in the fire....it doesn't feel good, but you know it'll sparkle :-)

I got a little carried away there, but I can SO SO relate! What a great example, inspiration & encouragement you are :-) God is truly moving in your life, keep on keeping on & keep lifting those prayers....He hears you!

I'd love to have a copy of "Glimmer of Hope", thank you for the chance! Goodnight, it's time to head off to bed (9:40pm), I have a book calling my name and a husband to snuggle. Blessings :-)

Tina Radcliffe said...

I actually know quite a few curmudgeons I can pray for, so as a general rule, unless I am looking for something and stumble upon a review, I avoid them.


I hate stars period. What I have begun doing is contacting an author personally to tell her/him when a book does the job of taking me away. I swoon in person, because I simply do not like the current rating system.

I actually can handle rejection. That is never my fear. My fear is that I cannot eloquently say what God wants me to say.

I also fear the mailman forgetting to deliver checks. Yes. Big fear.

Mary Preston said...

We all fall down from time to time. Getting up can be a challenge sometimes, but it is so worth the effort.

Melissa Jagears said...

I celebrate every first one star on each book, as a rite of passage sort of thing. I like to have fun with it, sing a song or deadpan the comment with friends about my failures. What you can laugh about can't hurt you....as badly.

Then if I notice this person is not only reviewing all my books with one/two stars but also is getting them for free from my publisher, I kindly ask my publisher that the reviewer be taken off my list since it seems I really am not the author for them and I want to save them the agony of reading anymore. :)

I have said a prayer for the more vitriolic of the bunch, but I still read all of them so I can sense what my audience wants/likes/dislikes (that includes the ones who hated it because my genre/blurb still caught them, therefore they were my audience--unless they specifically state they don't normally pick my type of book up) and if I sense a pattern that I can tweak without going against what the 5 star reviewers liked, then I keep it in mind while creating new stories. If they're just wacky, I go the "wrinkle my nose and move on" route.

I'll also sometimes check what other books they've rated to see if I agree with them on other books, if they agree with me on books I've read, I might look a little harder at their criticism. But one time a reviewer who gave me a one star also gave Jane Austen's Persuasion a one star. So I accepted that one star with pride. :)

And I agree with Tina. I hate the stars. I understand the stars' existence, but I dislike them. And yet, to get those reviews out there online, you almost always have to pick a star rating. SO, I ignore the star rating they give me, considering I know how hard it is to decide on stars myself when rating books if I'm trying to actually honestly rate it according to scale and just read what they wrote.

Vince said...

Hi Julie:

I stayed up late reading all 139 critical reviews of APMP and here's what I discovered:

"One star reviews reveal far more about the reviewer than they do about the quality of the book."

BTW: reading "Glimmer of Hope" before reading "Isle of Hope" is like adding Power Ball to a winning lottery ticket. You double your enjoyment.

In a way, reading "Glimmer" first is like coming into a movie on time rather than arriving fifteen minutes late and trying to piece together, from what you are seeing on the screen, what you missed.

The prequel is a total success!

Well worth reading!

Vince

Keli Gwyn said...

Negative reviews hurt. I wish they didn't bother me, but they do. When I run across one, my husband is quick to remind me how many positive reviews there are. See why I love him?

It helps me to think of a negative review as an indication that the reviewer probably isn't my book's intended audience. Praying for those reviewers would help, too. I'm gonna remember this tip and put it into practice.

Jill Weatherholt said...

Hi Julie! I'm sure there's many one star reviews in my future. I suppose knowing that it happens to even the best, will make it easier to handle. You can't please everyone, right? Thanks for the tips!

Debby Giusti said...

Vince, so glad to see your comment. We 've missed you! Hope all is well.

Jackie said...

Hi Julie,

I'm not published, but I received some hurtful, and some bad yet helpful, contest comments. I'm always surprised when judges make sarcastic and mean comments instead of focusing on helpful comments. Next time I'll take your advice and pray for the judges.

Thanks for sharing this great post!

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, TRIXI, what a total BLESSING your comment is to me, my friend, because YES, YES, YES, this is the path we are to follow, no matter the hurt, and God DOES move in these situations!! You mentioned that sometimes they even take a 180-degree turn, and I can certainly attest to that, over and over again!!

And, girl, you can "get carried away" on this subject any time you want because it's a subject we Christians should get "carried away on" on a daily basis if we're doing it right. ;)

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

TINA SAID: "I hate stars period. What I have begun doing is contacting an author personally to tell her/him when a book does the job of taking me away. I swoon in person, because I simply do not like the current rating system."

Now there's ANOTHER "novel" idea, my friend, so thanks for the suggestion. That is a great way to bless an author, no question, and I actually finished a book at 2:00 AM once, and was so blown away by it and so emotionally moved by it that I couldn't sleep. So much so that I had to take an over-the-counter sleep aid!! Since this had never happened to me before, I immediately traipsed downstairs and wrote that author an email, telling her that not many authors are capable of getting me out of bed in the middle of the night (or forcing me to take a sleep aid at book completion), so thank you for a truly powerful read! ;)

"I also fear the mailman forgetting to deliver checks. Yes. Big fear."

LOL, I hear you, my friend!! :)

Hugs,
Julie

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Julie You are FIVE stars in my eyes girlfriend. I love your books. And I know God loves you and all your prayers. I think we do get the negative people in our lives for a reason. God needs someone to pray for them because He truly wants them all to come to Him. Great going. And keep writing those five star stories.

Julie Lessman said...

TINA SAID: "I hate stars period."

Whoops ... I meant to address this point, too, Tina.

I actually agree with you on the five-star system -- I don't really like it at all because in my opinion, it's not broad enough. I wish Amazon had a system closer to RWA's for judging books. I absolutely LOVE the idea of 1-10 with percentages because that way I can realllllly home in on what I thought of a book.

For instance, I had two Rita books this year that were both really good, so I rated them a 9, but one of them had a tinge more kick than the other -- not much -- but enough that I liked it better, so it felt so good giving that gal a 9.2 instead of a nine.

Also, with a 1-10 range, I think that sharpens the focus on true "LIKE" and "DISLIKE" because I would certainly be more inclined to give an 8 or a 9 to a book rather than a 10 if I had reservations about it, regardless if it was friend's book or not, since I feel that would help soften the blow, so to speak. Same way with the 1-stars -- they would give the reviewer who reallllly hates a book much more satisfaction since there is a broader ranger, allowing them a rating that is lowest of the low.

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MARY SAID: "We all fall down from time to time. Getting up can be a challenge sometimes, but it is so worth the effort."

Gosh, Mary, that could have been one of the many success/failure quotes I researched, it's that good!! :)

And SO very true!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MELISSA SAID: "I celebrate every first one star on each book, as a rite of passage sort of thing. I like to have fun with it, sing a song or deadpan the comment with friends about my failures. What you can laugh about can't hurt you....as badly."

LOL ... great way to handle it, girl, which is the same way Mary Connealy handles 1-stars, which I have to admit, can get pretty funny at times. :)

YOU ALSO SAID: "Then if I notice this person is not only reviewing all my books with one/two stars but also is getting them for free from my publisher, I kindly ask my publisher that the reviewer be taken off my list since it seems I really am not the author for them and I want to save them the agony of reading anymore. :)"

LOL ... VERY smart, and I actually have done that too!


YOU ALSO SAID: "I'll also sometimes check what other books they've rated to see if I agree with them on other books, if they agree with me on books I've read, I might look a little harder at their criticism. But one time a reviewer who gave me a one star also gave Jane Austen's Persuasion a one star. So I accepted that one star with pride. :)

LOL, DEFINITELY!! And occasionally I do this, too. For instance, once I noticed a 1-star review on A Passion Most Pure and clicked on the reviewer's other reviews to see what books they DID like, and was not too surprised to find that they gave five stars to TONS of Amish books, which certainly explained the 1 star on mine. :)

But what really riled me once was when a reviewer gave a 1-star for the first book in a series of mine on a particular date, saying she absolutely hated the book and warned others against it. When I looked at all of her reviews, I saw that she systematically went down the line (on the same date, mind you) and gave 1-stars to the next 4-6 of my books, saying basically the same thing. Now maybe she read those books and maybe she didn't, but what I want to know -- if she hated the first one, why on earth would she read the next five???

Hugs,
Julie

DebH said...

Hi Julie
As yet unpubbed, no one-stars in sight. Haven't entered enough contests to get a scathing critique. The Seekers are so constructive in their "criticism", their words are blessing and educational. So I'm still in the naïve, blissful state.

As for one-star peeps, I agree with the statement that their vitriol says more about them than the product they are trolling. In fact, I've bought a few books BECAUSE the one-stars were so ridiculous (so far, really liked said books).

I usually just say what I liked about a book in my reviews. Most are four stars because I save five stars for the ones that keep me up late at night wanting to finish them. Very rare is it that I give a three star and NEVER have had felt the need for a one star. I figure if that particular author had the tenacity to actually write to THE END and get that MS published - well, they've accomplished more than I have and that means they deserve more than one measly star.

As for praying for the one-star people? It may not change them, but it will definitely change me for the better - so like you said WIN/WIN baby. Anything that changes me for the better is something I want to do.

p.s. read some of your links. there are some very funny one-star reviews that reveal just how clueless some of those people are. They definitely need prayer.

No need to be in the draw this time around. I already have the offerings 'cuz Julie Lessman books are AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (and must reads)

Julie Lessman said...

VINCE!!! Thank you SOOOO much, not only for your very kind comments above, but for the wonderful review on AGOH you posted on Amazon -- GOD BLESS YOU!! I have to admit, I was worried about you reading it when you commented once that you didn't like prequels that didn't have a plot, so that's why I warned you about AGOH because it doesn't really have much of a plot. But it is meant to be, as you so cleverly stated, "like coming into a movie on time rather than arriving fifteen minutes late and trying to piece together, from what you are seeing on the screen, what you missed."

YOU ALSO SAID: "I stayed up late reading all 139 critical reviews of APMP and here's what I discovered: "One star reviews reveal far more about the reviewer than they do about the quality of the book."

OH MY GOODNESS!! Now there's a cure for insomnia if ever there was!! I cannot believe you did that, my friend, but I sure hope it helped put you to sleep since you wrote this comment in the middle of the night!! And, yes, I am inclined to agree with the statement above regarding most of my 1-star reviews! ;)

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

KELI SAID: "Negative reviews hurt. I wish they didn't bother me, but they do. When I run across one, my husband is quick to remind me how many positive reviews there are. See why I love him?"

YES, I do, Keli -- that man is a keeper for sure!

And once, after a particularly scathing 1-star review early on in my career, I felt like God reminded me of the very same thing, only He put an extra spin on it by implying that when I allow 1-stars to affect me like I do, I am giving far more credence to the nasty opinions than I am to those kind souls who posted beautiful 4- and 5-star reviews. Which basically made the good reviews -- and those wonderful reader friends who left them -- almost seem less important, which is just flat-out wrong!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

JILL SAID: "Hi Julie! I'm sure there's many one star reviews in my future. I suppose knowing that it happens to even the best, will make it easier to handle. You can't please everyone, right? Thanks for the tips!"

Yes, I hope it does make it easier to handle, Jill, if and when the time comes, because not every author garners 1-star reviews, so hopefully you will be one! :)

But I've also seen the best of the best receive pretty mean 1-stars, so the likelihood is always there for sure!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

DEBBY SAID: "Vince, so glad to see your comment. We 've missed you! Hope all is well."

SOOOO VERY true, Vince -- we Seekers worry about you when you're quiet, especially when you are going through health issues, so DO pop in more often to put our minds at rest, okay?

Hugs!!
Julie

Janet Dean said...

Julie, I loved your post! It was fun to see how many highly successful people were given negative "reviews" of their potential. Negative reviews are no fun, but we can't please everyone. Seems like I read somewhere that it's better for our books to have those who love and hate them then to have indifference to what we write. Still nasty reviews hurt. I'm touched that God convicted you to pray for those reviewers who are nasty. Who knows the impact those prayer will have. Proud of you!

Hugs, Janet

Julie Lessman said...

JACKIE SAID: "I'm not published, but I received some hurtful, and some bad yet helpful, contest comments. I'm always surprised when judges make sarcastic and mean comments instead of focusing on helpful comments. Next time I'll take your advice and pray for the judges."

Ah, yes, Jackie, I remember that well, my friend, which always surprised me, too, because contest judging is NOT the place to be mean or discourage a writer! So prayer will definitely ease that blow, I assure you.

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Aw, SANDRA, you never fail to bless me, my friend, so THANK YOU!! And right back at you, girlfriend, especially your latest book -- LOVED IT!!

YOU SAID: "I think we do get the negative people in our lives for a reason."

Yeah, our God has a way of doing that, doesn't He? It's called boot camp, and I'm not sure I will ever move up in the ranks! ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

DEB H SAID: "So I'm still in the naïve, blissful state."

LOL ... yeah, I remember that state of nirvana ... right before my first book came out! ;)

YOU ALSO SAID: "I usually just say what I liked about a book in my reviews. Most are four stars because I save five stars for the ones that keep me up late at night wanting to finish them. Very rare is it that I give a three star and NEVER have had felt the need for a one star. I figure if that particular author had the tenacity to actually write to THE END and get that MS published - well, they've accomplished more than I have and that means they deserve more than one measly star."

OH, GOD BLESS YOU, DEB!! And I couldn't agree more -- anybody that has the guts and determination to actually finish a book and get a publisher to publish it definitely deserves more than a 1-star!!

And I know a lot of people won't agree with me on this, but I honestly do not believe a 1-star review belongs in the CBA. Why? Because they are just flat-out hurtful when a 2-star could make your point perfectly well. Of course, you're talking to a gal whose first unofficial "1-star review" came at the age of 12 from her own mother, so 'nuff said! ;)

Thank you SO much for sweet comments, my friend, they are always balm to a writer's soul!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, JANET, I'm kind of proud of me, too, since I can have a pretty short temper, so God teaching me how to contain it through prayer over the years has been a real blessing for me!

YOU SAID: "It's better for our books to have those who love and hate them then to have indifference to what we write."

I would definitely agree on that, which sounds very similar to the Scripture that Jesus said about spewing lukewarm out of his mouth, doesn't it?

Hugs,
julie

Laura Conner Kestner said...

What a wonderful post, JULIE! I'm still seeking publication so no 1-star reviews yet, but when they do come I will be better equipped (emotionally and spiritually) to handle them. Thank you!!

Naomi Shores said...

Thanks for your input. I'm actually working on my first novel so a long way from being published but your info was very helpful and insightful.

Cindy Regnier said...

One of the blessings of being unpublished is that I've never received a one-star review. God will have to make me a little thicker-skinned should I ever become published, because I believe every author that has a readership beyond her own circle of friends will get those one-stars. I believe they are deserving of a great big party, because someone you probably don't know has picked up your book and read it. Isn't that what it's all about when we're writing for the glory of the One who has called us to be authors?
Sometimes I see reviews for Christian books I loved that were rated low simply because they had a Christian message. Cause for rejoicing! IMHO, that reviewer read something they were meant to read, and while they may strike back with unkind words, that message lives on in their heart, nagging, nudging, and may just be the catalyst for something big. Who knows but God? Do the work He asks you to do and never stop praying for the readers who pick up your book, no matter their reaction on the reviews.
Ok, rant over. All that said, Julie, your books are loved by so many people (including me, of course) that my guess is people pick up a Julie Lessman book because of your name on the spine, and love it simply because you wrote it with all the passion and romance God puts in your heart to write the words He gives you! Keep it up and count yourself blessed for every negative review!
Suggestion for Seeker Villagers: Read Seeker books, write Seeker reviews and pray for the Seeker author as you read their books and write those reviews. These ladies pray for us! How blessed we are to be encouraged by them!

Christina said...

Though I haven't yet received a one-star review yet for my first novel (and my second won't release until late spring), I cringe just thinking about it. I'm sure like any painful first in life, it's going to hurt. But I absolutely love the way you have decided to look at these painful, sometimes hateful, reviews. What a great thing! To look at these reviews as a ministry, to actually see the hurt behind the words and to pray for those reviewers. I am going to remember this for the future.
I also had a lot of fun trying to match the failure to the name :)
Great post today. Seekerville posts always give me something valuable to take to heart.

Please enter me in the giveaway. I would love to win either book.

Laura Conner Kestner said...

You are so right, CINDY! Great way to look at it!

Myra Johnson said...

Right on target, Julie--thank you! Yes, bad reviews hurt. But the ones with honest criticism are a whole lot easier to take (eventually--LOL!) than the all-out vitriolic rants that have nothing to do with the story. I love your idea of praying for those reviewers instead of letting resentment eat us alive.

My worst reviews have probably been for my novel One Imperfect Christmas, because many readers just couldn't relate to my heroine's struggles. But the ones who did relate--the ones who have faced similar issues of self-blame, depression, and poor choices--those are really the people I wrote the book for, and their responses matter so much more than the negative reviews.

Mary Connealy said...

I just don't get the X-rated vibe.

I'm stumped.

Jess * Jessie * Jessy said...

What a wonderful post, Julie. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Out of my 53 reviews on The Last Daughter, I had a one, but it was a couple of 2s and 3s that actually hurt me. One reviewer said I wrote like a teenager. That's the review that won't leave my brain and pops into my head every time I sit down at my computer. Funny how we remember the bad ones, but can't quote the good ones. :( Yes, I'm trying to learn from that review ... and not write like a sixteen year old. Of course, she could have meant a thirteen year old. OMG, that's even worse!

Mary Connealy said...

One of the types of reviews I really try HARD to respect is, Bethany House has put a couple of my books up FREE as ebooks at different times.

I get many, many reviews on those by people who are just sampling freebie books and some of the reviews are sort of weird, written by readers who had no idea what to expect when they started reading.

To me this is a wonderful thing, a wonderful way to reach new readers, but not everyone likes what they read of course so you endure the cutting reviews.

But sometimes even a bad review, which honestly, I don't keep up with, can be written in such a way that I KNOW they read it, and finished it. That says something if an unknown reader finishes it, right?

And I get 'too much God' now and then. Which to me means someone with no interesting (maybe?) in reading Christian fiction is somehow lured into reading it.

So that's a good thing, and also a motivation to make sure the work has a grounding of faith.

But the porn and the x-rated.....that's just a mystery!

Tina Radcliffe said...

VINCE!!! Glad to see you back in the saddle. Great to hear your professoritorial input here.

Missy Tippens said...

Julie, I love how you're turning this around to an opportunity to pray!

I will admit to being upset by a few nasty emails I've received from readers. The personal attacks were hurtful at first (after I wrote a difficult teenager in my first book, Her Unlikely Family, I was told I must be a terrible mother). But I quickly learned to ignore those type things. We can't take those personal attacks to heart or we'd go crazy. I have to focus on the good emails, on the way God has blessed me through my writing, and through readers who have been touched in some way.

Laura Conner Kestner said...

MARY, I'm confused about the porn and x-rated comments, too, but I know that there are people out there who are offended by anything and EVERYTHING! I found that out the hard way when I wrote a newspaper article on World War II aircraft a few years ago. Along with their stories, several of the aging veterans shared pictures of the airplanes they flew during the war, some of which had the pin-up style nose-art (scantily-clad girls). One restaurant owner took all the newspapers from the rack and threw them in the trash before her customers could be offended by the "pornography" inside. She then wrote me a very nasty note saying, among other things, she was "watching me" to make sure I never tried anything like that again. I was truly hurt by her actions. Not only am I about as conservative as they come, but I thought that series of historical articles and pictures were darn good, LOL. You just never know.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Hey, Julie! Oh, those 1-star reviews!!! They really do hurt, and sometimes they make me super angry. When I first started getting them, I would feel so icky inside. For a couple of days, I could not work on my WIP without thinking about the negative comments in that 1-star review, which meant I couldn't write at all! I felt as if I'd done something wrong and that I had injured that person leaving me the review. But then one day, when I was feeling really bad about some negative reviews, I put on some praise music and just started thanking and praising God, and the bad feelings went away! I realized I could pray for that person, and that I had triggered something, especially in those who hated my book for the Christian content, and that it could just be that God was knocking on the door of their heart and they were resisting. But I could pray that God would put someone in their life to nudge them even closer to God, someone who could change their mind about what they were feeling, if that makes sense.

But 1-star reviews still get to me, and even negative statements in 2- and 3- and 4-star reviews upset me. But now I get over it so much quicker, sometimes within moments I've shrugged it off. Sometimes I get angry and rant about it to myself, or wish, momentarily, I could give that person a piece of my mind! Or wish I could complain on facebook about how unfair and mean it was of people to attack my work, the thing I make my livelihood from, so publicly!

How would they feel if I came to their place of business, wrote a sharp criticism of the thing they were most proud of, the thing they made money off of to feed their family, and taped it to the front door of their business for all their customers to see!!! And they would not be able to take it down! No, they had to leave it up and they could not even defend themselves. Yeah, that's what it's like when you put a super critical review up on Amazon.com!

People can be so cruel online. They don't see authors as real people, nice people with feelings. Most of them think we're rich and spoiled and never even read our reviews. But none of that is true.

I got my first 1-star review for A Spy's Devotion a day or two ago. It said: Boring Boring Boring! I love Melanie's fairy tales (except for Fairest Beauty) so I was looking forward to something different from her. This was a huge disappointment! No chemistry between the characters and nothing but ball's and dinner parties. Sorry but I don't understand where all the good reviews are coming from.

LOL! I literally shrugged it off within five minutes, but I haven't always been able to do that. I used to subscribe to Google Alerts on my books, and I once got an alert where a blogger had reviewed my 2nd book, The Merchant's Daughter, on her blog. I was excited to see what she said. Dude. That was the longest, most intelligent, most cruel and critical, most erroneous review in the history of reviews. She slammed everything about the book, compared it to authors and books that were way over my head, went on and on, accused me of hating Catholics (which is NOT true), and I literally was sick and shaky after I read it. I felt so attacked and HATED. Needless to say, I stopped getting Google Alerts on my book titles!!!

One way I look at it now, is that I get all these wonderful, gushing reviews, so I can stand a few negative ones. It comes with the territory, and shockingly enough, I do sometimes learn something from some of the negative comments and end up thinking, "Fair enough," or nodding my head and agreeing with them. Because I'm not perfect, and neither are my books. And that's just fine, because God is using them anyway. :-)

Love you, Julie! I feel you. :-)

Melanie Dickerson said...

Wow, that was a long comment! I should be adding words to my book that's due SOON! LOL! Sorry, Julie!

Melanie Dickerson said...

And it's a misconception that negative reviews don't negatively affect your sales. They definitely do. My sales ranking will fall slightly whenever the most recent review--the one at the top--is a negative review.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Sad that I check my Amazon status so often that I know that.

Sherida Stewart said...

Jule, absolutely fabulous post....teaching me to not only turn the other cheek, but to walk with those who expose their wounds through harsh comments. Love this....and your amazing talents!

Blessings..... and hugs!

Mary Connealy said...

Laura, you're so right about different people having more sensitive feelings about some books.
And MOSTLY I respect that and just know all people are different and that's OKAY!

But sometimes I have to think, REALLY? This was too much for you? And then I worry about them because all of life must be so awful for them because it's everywhere, stuff that is offensive and much of it far far worse than anything you'll find in one of my books.

But I don't want to offend anyone either. I take it seriously that my books should not be uncomfortable for a mother to pass down to her daughter.

Caryl Kane said...

Fantastic post! JULIE, I admire you even more after reading that you apply Luke 6:28— bless those who curse you, pray for those who hurt you—to every single nasty or 1-star review you received. You have encouraged me to consider my reaction to those I come in contact with and to also allow the Lord to heal my wounds so that I love as He loves..... Thank you again for this SPOT ON post! ((((HUGS)))))

Please put me in for the drawing....

Laura Conner Kestner said...

MARY, I've also thought about how miserable some people must be with all that's around to offend them these days, and to be honest, I'm so shocked by what I see on Facebook (and other social media sites) some days that I actually cringe. But I've NEVER read a book by a Seeker author that was offensive to me. Some made me look at things from a different perspective, some made me laugh and/or cry, but none offended me. And the plane nose-art pics (at least the ones I used) were not offensive in my opinion either. (Can you tell that woman's comments still bother me? LOL)

Angela K Couch said...

Thanks Julie! It's nice to read posts like this before you get that first one star review, but with my first novella releasing next month, and three novels contracted and on their way out, I better save this. I'm sure it is only a matter of time. Though, if my one star review rants that my book as as bad as one of Julie Lessman or Mary Connealy's stories they read, I'll count that as a five star and frame it on my wall. ;) I mean, at least I didn't rip off Clueless like Jane Austen!

Lara (Storm) Hitchcock said...

Julie, I liked your idea of turning it around with prayer. I have to admit that negative reviews are one of the big reasons I'm actually glad I'm not published yet. I often wonder how I will be able to handle them when I already struggle with critiques from friends. Everyone is different and has a different way of seeing the world, so it stands to reason that even the best of authors will face this kind of negative criticism, but I'm sure it's still hard. Even when you know the person is trying to help.

My biggest fear, I suppose, would be to not have the support of the Christian community. Some of the Christian novels I've read tackle some difficult issues. And, for some crazy reason, I seem to be drawn to some of these difficult issues in my own writing, which often leaves me wondering if I'm crossing some line. The key, I know is to present it in a delicate way. But I'm sure you all know that it can be difficult to see our own writing clearly. (Am I accomplishing what I hope to accomplish? Is my writing pleasing to God?) So I just keep praying that He will direct and guide me.

Prayers for healing and growth for all of you who have suffered the rejection of a bad review. Julie, you know I love your writing. Keep it coming!!

By the way, I already purchased "A Glimmer of Hope," but I would love to have an e-copy of Isle of Hope, so please enter me in the drawing. (I'm sure I will eventually have a copy whether I win the drawing or not.)

Wilani Wahl said...

Great post Julie, I have both of the books.

A couple months ago I was reading an ARC. I checked the Goodreads page and discovered several one and two star reviews with no four or five star reviews. I decided to read those low reviews. Then as I read the book I tried to see it from their viewpoint, but could not. When I wrote the review I gave an honest five star review telling how I tried to see it from the view point of the low stars but couldn't.

I agree with Melissa that when early reviewers leave consistent low reviews they need to be removed from those receiving free books in exchange.

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, LAURA, I hope this does prepare all of Seekerville's soon-to-pubbed authors for the possibility of an extended ministry over and above the message of their books! :)

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

I'm glad, NAOMMI! It's practical tips like this that I wish someone had told me before the first 1-star review! :)

And God bless you on your path to publication!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

CINDY SAID: "I believe they are deserving of a great big party, because someone you probably don't know has picked up your book and read it. Isn't that what it's all about when we're writing for the glory of the One who has called us to be authors?"

AMEN AND AMEN, girlfriend, so that's an excellent point. Anytime an author can get people to read their books beyond the circle of family and friends, that is HUGE!! And like the winter increases appreciation for spring, so should the 1-star increase our appreciation of strangers we minister to so much, they took the time of post a good review!

CINDY ALSO SAID: "Sometimes I see reviews for Christian books I loved that were rated low simply because they had a Christian message. Cause for rejoicing!"

LOL ... you are on a roll this morning, my friend, and SO dead on!! Sounds like a Scripture to me: "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great" -- Matthew 5:11-12. :)

Of course ... "rejoicing" may be a bit of a stretch when an author first sees a 1-star review, but she/he get their eventually if God has His way, and He usually does! ;)

And THANK YOU, Cindy, for your kind words AND your encouragement of posting reviews for Seeker books. We appreciate them -- AND YOU!! -- more than we can ever say!!

HUGS,
JULIE

Julie Lessman said...

Aw, thank you SO much, CHRISTINA!! I'll tell you what -- we at Seekerville sure do our level best to bless our readers because honestly, they are more like family than readers!

And, yeah, that blessed me, too, when God directed me to look at those 1-stars as a ministry. Trust me, that was ALL His idea, not mine! ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MYRA SAID: "Yes, bad reviews hurt. But the ones with honest criticism are a whole lot easier to take (eventually--LOL!) than the all-out vitriolic rants that have nothing to do with the story."

AGREED!! When a reviewer goes to the trouble to be kind in their low-star reviews by gently expressing what they did not like in the book, I truly appreciate those reviews so very much. Not the # stars, maybe, but definitely the review! ;)

YOU ALSO SAID: "My worst reviews have probably been for my novel One Imperfect Christmas, because many readers just couldn't relate to my heroine's struggles. But the ones who did relate--the ones who have faced similar issues of self-blame, depression, and poor choices--those are really the people I wrote the book for, and their responses matter so much more than the negative reviews."

WOW, that's a powerful statement, Myra, and SO very true!! That's actually what happened with Isle of Hope -- I not only wrote the book as therapy for myself, but for all those readers who have experienced the same rejection and bitterness that I did growing up. I honestly didn't expect it to be so well-received due to the personal nature of the story, but it just goes to show that forgiveness is a heart issue that affects every single human being.

Hugs,
Julie

Crystal said...

This is perfect timing, Julie. I have been missing the last few days because I have been working every day, and to be honest, my confidence in writing was completely crushed. I had about a dozen or so people (readers and writers) read the first 15 pages of my novel, trying to determine if I should enter a contest or not. The (mostly) constructive feedback I received was amazing but I also realized some significant deficiencies. As a result, I decided to wait a year and really work on it after this month and strength all aspects. However, every time I have sat down to write all I can think about is the negative responses I received and it has crippled my writing. Less that 500 words in 4 days. :-( I have been snuggling up in my Bible for reassurance that my value is not wrapped up in what I write, but in who He is, I read A Reluctant Courtship to drown out my silly bought of depression (trying to avoid the pints of ice cream), and last night I went on a walk with my youngest son past a babbling creek. Boy did I need that. Today is a new day and to promote my ability to write, I have dived back into my research to get the juices going.

I have always loved learning and growing, and when I taught, I repeated to my students daily that I love mistakes. If done right, you learn from them, grow from them, and become a better person. Your post today reminded me of that and I am determined to move forward. I don't wish to compound one mistake with the mistake of letting it keep me from writing. After all, Christ told us following Him would not be easy. Why should following my calling in Him be a double fudge brownie topped with vanilla bean ice cream, hot fudge, whip cream, and a cherry. Okay maybe this whole diet thing is driving me a bit sweet crazy. :-) Have a great day and I will check in with everyone this evening.

Julie Lessman said...

MARY SAID: "I just don't get the X-rated vibe. I'm stumped."

LOL,me too, Mary, but I do know that on one of your 1-stars that you sent me, the gal indicated that you made the heroine like lovemaking with her husband a little too much! ;)

I have to say, Mary, I have never read funnier 1-stars than yours when you post them for laughs on the Seeker loop, AND I've never seen an author take them more graciously (and humorously) than you!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

JESS JESSIE JESSY SAID: "One reviewer said I wrote like a teenager. That's the review that won't leave my brain and pops into my head every time I sit down at my computer. Funny how we remember the bad ones, but can't quote the good ones."

Oh, man, isn't THAT the truth!! But you know what? I have to laugh at reviewers who trash our writing because I bet in most cases, they couldn't string two sentences together in a coherent thought, much less write an entire book AND get it published!!

Case in point: One of my sisters never finished high school (she did eventually get her GED, however), and she called me one day to thank me for the complimentary book I sent her, but felt it her duty to tell me that she thought the writing was "sophomoric." Now mind you, this is the sister that seldom reads books at all making a statement about the only book out of my 11 novels that carried a 5-star rating for eight years until a 1-star rocked the boat last month. Trust me, it took some praying to get past THAT "review" from my sister, but I did, and fences have been mended, I assure you. But I'll tell you what, that sister has never received another complimentary copy of any of my books, as I'm sure you can understand why! ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MARY CONNEALY SAID: "But sometimes even a bad review, which honestly, I don't keep up with, can be written in such a way that I KNOW they read it, and finished it. That says something if an unknown reader finishes it, right?

LOL, agreed!! That's why I chose the review in my header pic of this post because God bless her, her header is: I believe I need to repent for reading this book to the last page," because it made me smile. Well, maybe not at the time ... ;)

The good news is that further down in that same review, the reviewer asks people to pray for me, which is always a good thing, right???

YOU ALSO SAID: "And I get 'too much God' now and then. Which to me means someone with no interesting (maybe?) in reading Christian fiction is somehow lured into reading it."

AGREED! I believe that anytime we can profess God to people who would otherwise never seek Him out is a good thing because God plants a seed. :)

Regarding the freebies that everybody and their mother picks up, you're right -- many don't have any idea it's a Christian book. I had one reviewer like that complain that the word "God" or "Lord" was on every single page of the book. I didn't believe her, so I checked it out for myself and guess what? She wasn't far wrong! ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

TINA SAID: "VINCE!!! Glad to see you back in the saddle. Great to hear your professoritorial input here."

AGREED!! And LOVE the "professoritorial input" expression. SO apt!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

WOW, MISSY, you??? A "terrible mother"?? That reviewer had NO idea just how wrong she was. Being on the Seeker loop with you, I would say you are one of THE BEST mothers I have ever seen, and ALWAYS the first one to ask for prayer for your kiddos, so we can just nix that silly review, right now!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LAURA SAID: "MARY, I'm confused about the porn and x-rated comments, too, but I know that there are people out there who are offended by anything and EVERYTHING! I found that out the hard way when I wrote a newspaper article on World War II aircraft a few years ago. Along with their stories, several of the aging veterans shared pictures of the airplanes they flew during the war, some of which had the pin-up style nose-art (scantily-clad girls). One restaurant owner took all the newspapers from the rack and threw them in the trash before her customers could be offended by the "pornography" inside."

OH, WOW, Laura, I can hardly believe that!! But you're right -- there are a lot of people who are easily offended by the slightest little thing, kind of like the Pharisees were offended when Jesus went to dinner at Matthew' the taxpayer's house! ;)

I actually had a brother (I'm from a family of 13, which is why I have so many family members to reference) who was very much that way when I was growing up. One time, when I was about 13, I wanted to decorate my room, so I cut favorite pictures out of magazines and taped them around the walls at the top like a border. Well, one of them was a White Shoulders ad which I really liked because I like White Shoulders. It was a picture of Lady Godiva riding on a horse with golden hair covering absolutely everything on her body but her legs and arms. So one day I come home from school, and one of my pictures is missing. I ask everybody in the house if they took it, and my brother admitted that he did because it was too risque to be hanging in my room. :) I admire his morality today, but thought at the time it went a wee bit overboard. ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Mary Connealy said...

Angela LOL Clueless and Jane Austen that's about as classic as it gets.

Yep, you need to get tough. Like it or not these public reviews are the way the game's played.

May God bless you and keep you and give you a rhino hide.

Angela K Couch said...

Thank you, Mary! Luckily, breaking into traditional publishing is also great at thickening the skin. ;) Prep for what is to come.

DebH said...

MARY
If I had a daughter, I would SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO pass any book of yours along to her. Gee, I have a niece and I'd LOVE to have her read your books. Oh boy! NOW I know what to send to her for her birthdays and Christmases now!!!!!

kaybee said...

TINA, I agree with you about the stars. They are much too arbitrary. When I don't like a book I don't like it for specific reasons, and when I like one, I like it for specific reasons.
MELISSA, I love the idea of celebrating your first one-star. What a different way of looking at it! It's like when writers used to say they "papered a room" with rejection slips because it showed they were out there working and submitting. Now it's all e-mail, so we can't do that which is probably just as well considering saving the planet and all.
I JUST CHECKED OUT Manuscript Matchmakers! Congratulations to Cindy Regnier, Davalynn, Lyndee H. and Angie Dicken of the Writers Alley, who all made it to the Courtship stage. Way to go.
Back later,
KB

Sharee Stover said...

Julie, first of all I'm flabbergasted (isn't that a great word that just doesn't get used enough? sorry, I digress) that ANYONE would call your writing or Mary's writing X-rated, pornographic, etc. Good grief! What you said is dead on though...it's a great opportunity to pray for them. Blessings to you!

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, MELANIE, somehow I knew that if ANYBODY understood the range of emotions a 1-star used to trigger in me, it would be YOU, girlfriend! Thank you for your support and honesty -- I cherish AND you!!

YOU SAID: "They really do hurt, and sometimes they make me super angry. When I first started getting them, I would feel so icky inside. For a couple of days, I could not work on my WIP without thinking about the negative comments in that 1-star review, which meant I couldn't write at all!"

Oh, I hear you, girlfriend! In the early days, the first thing I would do (well, after crying and ranting to my husband) was pray with my prayer partners about whether or not I was on God's path for me in writing passionate Christian fiction. Like you, those early one-star reviews made me feel so awful inside, like I had sinned against God when in truth, HE was the one who got me published in the first place, in a market where my agent said getting published with my brand of passion would be "slim to nil."

YOU ALSO SAID: "But 1-star reviews still get to me, and even negative statements in 2- and 3- and 4-star reviews upset me. But now I get over it so much quicker, sometimes within moments I've shrugged it off. Sometimes I get angry and rant about it to myself, or wish, momentarily, I could give that person a piece of my mind! Or wish I could complain on facebook about how unfair and mean it was of people to attack my work, the thing I make my livelihood from, so publicly!"

LOL, move over, girlfriend, because we are SO much alike, which is only one of the MANY reasons I love you, Mel!!

YOU ALSO SAID: "How would they feel if I came to their place of business, wrote a sharp criticism of the thing they were most proud of, the thing they made money off of to feed their family, and taped it to the front door of their business for all their customers to see!!! And they would not be able to take it down! No, they had to leave it up and they could not even defend themselves. Yeah, that's what it's like when you put a super critical review up on Amazon.com!"

YES!! I guarantee you they would suddenly feel your pain, my friend! Reminds me of a few writer friends I know who gave me 3-star reviews, which to a lot of people are not bad reviews, I know. BUT ... just wait until those same writers get published and suddenly understand all too well that 3-stars don't exactly thrill authors all that much. And I often wonder how those same authors would feel if I posted a 3-star on their books, which on one of them, I truly wanted to do, but wouldn't do that to her, especially not on a debut book.

YOU ALSO SAID: "People can be so cruel online. They don't see authors as real people, nice people with feelings. Most of them think we're rich and spoiled and never even read our reviews. But none of that is true."

SOOOO TRUE!! It's easy to go on Amazon and rant over a book you hated, but a live human being is attached to that book, and yet many reviewers fail to take that into consideration.

Good for you, in shrugging off that awful review on A Spy's Devotion, my friend. Trust me, for anybody who gets as many contracts as you do, wins awards like you do, and sells books like you do, everyone else is sure to shrug that silly review off as well.

Love you back, my friend!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, MEL, you're starting to write comments like I write books, girlfriend, which is a dangerous thing to do!! ;) Just goes to show how 1-star reviews DO touch a nerve in all of us, whether we admit openly it or not.

And I'm prettttty darn sure you're not the only author checking her Amazon status and ratings on a regular basis! ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, GOD BLESS YOU, SHERIDA ... you are always SUCH a blessing to me, my sweet friend!! SO glad I have gotten to know you better!!

Hugs and more hugs,
Julie

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Julie,
I stopped by this morning, but didn't have enough time to leave a comment about the blog. Nicely done. I love that you pray for your reviewers. I do the same for my readers...or for any hands my books have passed through/over/whatever. I always ask the Lord to bless those who come in contact with my work, whether they enjoy the stories or not.

I have had some wonderful prayer support as well, which means so much!

I should add that the Seekers pray for those who visit our blog, lurkers too! Hope you feel the prayers!

Julie Lessman said...

MARY CONNEALY SAID: "Laura, you're so right about different people having more sensitive feelings about some books. And MOSTLY I respect that and just know all people are different and that's OKAY!"

True, Mary, and people's life experiences make them ultra sensitive as well. I once got a 1-star review by someone who said I had no business having Collin hire an old girlfriend in the office with him and Brady in A Hope Undaunted, even if her young boy was dying of cancer and she needed a flexible job to take care of him. I often thought that this might have been a person who either was in a situation like that she regrets or knows someone close to her that was because she was adamant that I was in the wrong. Unfortunately, in an amoral world like ours, there are many such scenarios, and I believe Christian fiction needs to address them and shine God's Word on them to show the way they need to go.

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

CARYL SAID: "You have encouraged me to consider my reaction to those I come in contact with and to also allow the Lord to heal my wounds so that I love as He loves..... "

Aw, thank you, my friend -- I am glad this blog today encouraged you because you ALWAYS encourage me! :)

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LAURA SAID: "MARY, I've also thought about how miserable some people must be with all that's around to offend them these days, and to be honest, I'm so shocked by what I see on Facebook (and other social media sites) some days that I actually cringe."

I truly believe that, Laura, that it's out of their own pain and misery that many nasty reviewers write hurtful reviews.

Hugs!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

ANGELA SAID: "Thanks Julie! It's nice to read posts like this before you get that first one star review, but with my first novella releasing next month, and three novels contracted and on their way out, I better save this."

WOW, Angela, SUPER CONGRATS on all the books coming out, girl -- you are definitely on a roll!!

YOU ALSO SAID: "I'm sure it is only a matter of time. Though, if my one star review rants that my book as as bad as one of Julie Lessman or Mary Connealy's stories they read, I'll count that as a five star and frame it on my wall. ;) I mean, at least I didn't rip off Clueless like Jane Austen!"

LOL, right! That was a hoot, wasn't it??

Hugs,
Julie

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I am late today!

Oh my gosh, how fun is this????

One Star Reviews.... :)

Hey, if we're gonna put it out there, we're gonna hear the good, the bad and the ugly. And honestly, I am so totally in love with my job, that even when it's bad, it's good...

But of course, Julie puts out edgy things that spike emotion, and that's a big difference. But I do kind of giggle at her reactions, because my Yankee hide can take a lot of abuse. And then I hand her the lotion-treated tissues and pat her back!

The way I learned how to handle this sort of thing was a long time ago, when a customer was mean to me, I mean beyond mean, I mean abusive mean about how worthless I was...

And three days later she tried to commit suicide.

I believe she succeeded a couple of years later.

So now when someone goes off on anything, I wonder how wretched their place in life might be. What are their disappointments? What is their pain?

Because my feelings were so hurt by that years ago, but that woman wasn't mad at me. She was mad at life and I got in the path.

I love good reviews. I shrug off bad reviews. I can't please everyone, and I'm selling a lot of books, so I must be pleasing most... and who can ask for more than that?

Julie, great tips on developing that thicker skin!

Such a necessity in any reviewable job!

Jeanne T said...

I'm so sad. I commented HOURS ago, from my phone. I may be blind, but I must have done something wrong, since I don't see it. I guess that's what I get for doing it on the fly. ;)

Julie, i LOVED this post. Your way of handling those negative reviews emulates Jesus so clearly. Your mindset of bringing the other person to the throne of Jesus rather than harping on the mean words directed your way . . . that's so hard to do. I need to be more consistent in doing this when someone says/does something hurtful to me.

I'd LOVE to be entered into the drawing for one of your books. I've been wanting to read Isle of Hope. :)

Thanks for spurring me on to reflect and act more like Jesus, Julie!

Julie Lessman said...

LARA STORM HITCHCOCK SAID: "My biggest fear, I suppose, would be to not have the support of the Christian community. Some of the Christian novels I've read tackle some difficult issues. And, for some crazy reason, I seem to be drawn to some of these difficult issues in my own writing, which often leaves me wondering if I'm crossing some line. The key, I know is to present it in a delicate way. But I'm sure you all know that it can be difficult to see our own writing clearly. (Am I accomplishing what I hope to accomplish? Is my writing pleasing to God?) So I just keep praying that He will direct and guide me."

Oh, EXCELLENT point, Lara, and a very important one for ALL Christian authors. Which is why I have two devoted prayer partners who keep me and my writing on track with God's will through regular prayer and encouragement. I think it's critical for Christian authors to have godly people who pray for them and make them accountable to God's precepts and will for their lives.

Thanks SO much for your sweet comment, my friend, and for purchasing A Glimmer of Hope. I hope you enjoy it.

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!

Julie

Julie Lessman said...

WILANI SAID: "A couple months ago I was reading an ARC. I checked the Goodreads page and discovered several one and two star reviews with no four or five star reviews. I decided to read those low reviews. Then as I read the book I tried to see it from their viewpoint, but could not. When I wrote the review I gave an honest five star review telling how I tried to see it from the view point of the low stars but couldn't."

WOW, Lani, that is really cool what you did, and I am so impressed that you came away with a totally honest and heartfelt review of that book -- VERY cool, my friend!

Hope you are back in the pink as far as the health issues you've had lately!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

DEB H SAID: "MARY, If I had a daughter, I would SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO pass any book of yours along to her. Gee, I have a niece and I'd LOVE to have her read your books. Oh boy! NOW I know what to send to her for her birthdays and Christmases now!!!!!"

Me, too, Deb, and, in fact, I have! My Aunt Julie and several other friends/relatives of mine have loved all of Mary's books because I lend them out to special people. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Cheryl St.John said...

Great post, Julie. I know not everyone is going to like my books and that's okay. There are plenty of books I don't care for, and it's not personal.

Pam Hillman said...

Vince said: "One star reviews reveal far more about the reviewer than they do about the quality of the book."

This is agree with! :) Five Stars, Vince.

Pam Hillman said...

No way, no how, in nobody's universe is Missy Tippens a horrible mother.

I'm amazed at how some readers' grasp on reality attaches itself to the fiction they read. SMH.

People are weird.

Julie Lessman said...

CRYSTAL SAID: "This is perfect timing, Julie. I have been missing the last few days because I have been working every day, and to be honest, my confidence in writing was completely crushed ... however, every time I have sat down to write all I can think about is the negative responses I received and it has crippled my writing."

WOW, Crystal, I hear you, my friend, because that's exactly what happens to me when something shakes my confidence -- the pump runs dry with no passion (or words) pouring forth.

BUT ... I am SO very glad that the Lord has helped you bounce back to the truth -- and that is, HE has blessed you with the gift of writing AND the passion to take it where HE wants you to take it, so in the long run, HIS opinion is the ONLY one that really counts in the big scheme of things.

LOVE your comment (all of it really, but this sentence especially) that said: "I love mistakes. If done right, you learn from them, grow from them, and become a better person."

AMEN AND AMEN, girl, preach it!! Or maybe I should say, "teach it"!! :)

YOU ALSO SAID: "Your post today reminded me of that and I am determined to move forward. I don't wish to compound one mistake with the mistake of letting it keep me from writing."

YES, YES, YES!!! I am soooo proud of you, girl, because that's EXACTLY what God wants you to do because heaven knows the devil WANTS you to "compound one mistake with the mistake of letting it keep YOU from writing."

LOL about the diet! ;) Saying one for you RIGHT NOW, for grace, blessing, and productivity on both the book and the diet!

Hugs,
Julie

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I share Tina's mailman fear far more than I do bad reviews, LOL!

#gottapaybills

Julie Lessman said...

KAYBEE SAID: "TINA, I agree with you about the stars. They are much too arbitrary. When I don't like a book I don't like it for specific reasons, and when I like one, I like it for specific reasons."

AGREED, Kathy, so excellent point!

YOU SAID TO MELISSA, I love the idea of celebrating your first one-star. What a different way of looking at it! It's like when writers used to say they "papered a room" with rejection slips because it showed they were out there working and submitting. Now it's all e-mail, so we can't do that which is probably just as well considering saving the planet and all.

LOL ... I love the idea of papering a wall with rejection slips. Heck, I practically could paper my whole house! ;)

AND THANK YOU, girl, for letting us know about Manuscript Matchmakers!

WHOO-HOO, SUPER CONGRATS TO Cindy Regnier, Davalynn, Lyndee H. and Angie Dicken of the Writers Alley, who all made it to the Courtship stage. YOU GO, GIRLS!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

SHAREE SAID: "Julie, first of all I'm flabbergasted (isn't that a great word that just doesn't get used enough? sorry, I digress) that ANYONE would call your writing or Mary's writing X-rated, pornographic, etc. Good grief! What you said is dead on though...it's a great opportunity to pray for them. Blessings to you!"

Aw, thank you SO much, my friend, really appreciate your support! And, YES, "flabbergasted" IS a great word which also describes how I feel about Mary's work being called "X-rated and pornographic." If that's true, that pretty much relegates me to the equivalent of the far left end of the secular genres, I think!

HUGS!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

DEBBY SAID: "I love that you pray for your reviewers. I do the same for my readers...or for any hands my books have passed through/over/whatever. I always ask the Lord to bless those who come in contact with my work, whether they enjoy the stories or not."

That is SUCH a great thing to do, Deb, and SO totally you, my friend! And the Seekers are SO very blessed to have you in our ranks because of your heart for prayer and your tenderness to those who are hurting. You are a TRUE blessing, my friend.

HUGS!!
JULIE

bonton said...

Oh, Julie, you are one of the few authors who has the power to first inspire, then make me laugh out loud, followed by tears - within only a couple of minutes!! The comments to some of the world's most well-known people and the hysterical bad reviews are definite proof that reviews are indeed, one person's personal opinion. Too bad some people are destructive, rather than constructive - however, I agree that with a lot of those people, the reviews come as a result of their own pain. And constructive reviews can be helpful - there is a kind way to write constructive reviews.

And don't get me started on those "Christians" who don't feel controversial subjects should be included in Christian Fiction books. Isn't one of the purposes of Christian Fiction to touch readers in a way that would inspire positive changes in their lives?? As long as there is no foul language or explicit sex, edgy Christian Fiction containing realistic subjects faced by many people today is a wonderful way to reach those struggling readers more inclined to read a fiction book than avail themselves of help in other forms. It can also educate, inspire, and empower us to reach out to others experiencing those struggles.

I only wish Christian Fiction had been more prevalent many years ago when I was struggling with serious personal issues of my own and refusing to acknowledge the One Who was THE answer. Thank you for always letting Him guide you in your writing!!

Julie Lessman said...

RUTHY SAID: "The way I learned how to handle this sort of thing was a long time ago, when a customer was mean to me, I mean beyond mean, I mean abusive mean about how worthless I was... And three days later she tried to commit suicide."

Oh, WOW, Ruthy, talk about a point driven home! That breaks my heart, but it is an excellent way to handle painful criticism and abuse.

LOL, and, yes, when God handed out hides, he gave me a bat wing compared to your genuine New York cowhide, girl, so it took me a long time to learn how to toughen up as a writer, but I'm pretty much there now, except for an occasional relapse. ;)

Hugs!!
Julie



Julie Lessman said...

JEANNE, don't you just HATE that??? Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a really long and really heartfelt comment on a blog that honestly probably took me 20 minutes, and then BAM!! It was gone and I was so upset!!

BUT ... you just praise God and move on and rewrite, so I appreciate you taking the time to do that, my friend, AND for your kind comment!

Here's to a win, girlfriend, so GOOD LUCK!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

CHERYL ST. JOHN SAID: "Great post, Julie. I know not everyone is going to like my books and that's okay. There are plenty of books I don't care for, and it's not personal."

EXCELLENT perspective, my friend, and one I need to adapt a little more often. It just goes to show you what a pro you are in this biz, Cheryl, so thank you for coming by to comment -- MUCH appreciated!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

PAMMY SAID: "Vince said: "One star reviews reveal far more about the reviewer than they do about the quality of the book." This is agree with! :) Five Stars, Vince.

LOL ... five stars, indeed, Pam, which is what Vince ALWAYS gets in my book! :)

PAM ALSO SAID: "No way, no how, in nobody's universe is Missy Tippens a horrible mother."

LOL ... TOTAL AGREEMENT!!

PAM ALSO SAID: "I'm amazed at how some readers' grasp on reality attaches itself to the fiction they read."

OOOOO, good quote, Pam!!

Hugs,
Julie

Janet Dean said...

Mary, I think we get dinged by non-inspy readers who get them free. That makes me think of one of my first reviews by a woman who bought the book because she loved the cover. (Vince, would guess the book was my debut Courting Miss Adelaide.) This isn't verbatim but she said something like, I never read Christian fiction or these "little" books, but the story wasn't as bad as I expected and I finished it.

I took that as strong praise. :-)

Janet

Mary Connealy said...

Janet, I'm sure that's it. But even with a bad review I'm glad they accidently read it.

Julie Lessman said...

JANET, I think you're absolutely write about getting dinged by non-inspy readers who get our books for free, which is certainly a hazard in the freebie game, but not enough to hurt the sales that result from some readers going on to buy the whole series.

LOL ... strong praise, indeed, my friend, especially from a likely non-inspy reader!!

Hugs,
Julie

Missy Tippens said...

LOL, Pam! Thank you! I wish I could have sicced you on that reader. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Ruthy said: "So now when someone goes off on anything, I wonder how wretched their place in life might be. What are their disappointments? What is their pain?"

Yes, so true. I always try to remember that.

Missy Tippens said...

Aww, and Julie, thank you, too. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Crystal, I totally understand. I've been in the same place after critiques (especially years ago when I first started writing, before my hide got toughened up). I hope you can let the insecurity go and jump right back in.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Julie, I'm here for you whenever you need to relapse. I'll comfort you, then mock you.

Hey, that's what friends are for!!! :)

And yeah, that was a wake up call for me, I've used that story often to press home that "walking in another's footsteps" kind of mentality.

Not that people should be mean, they shouldn't, of course. And just because you have a forum to speak your mind, doesn't mean we should, necessarily.

But it did give me a new point of view that reminded me it's not always all about me.

Although it should be, don't you think???? :)

Chill N said...

Oh my gosh! Walt Disney was fired for not having imagination? Amazing.

JULIE, I've pasted these enlightening words in my 'words to remember' file: Which means as writers and authors, we don’t just trigger revelation and blessing in our readers’ lives, we also detonate time bombs of pain, sometimes slashing into deep, dark places that may not have seen the light of day until our book exposed that festering nerve. And we all know that when people hurt, they have a tendency to hurt back. Sometimes with nasty reviews.

Thank you for sharing your insight :-)

Nancy C

Chill N said...

P.S. Don't enter me in the drawing, Julie ... I'm having fun spending my Amazon gift card :-D

Nancy C

Mildred Bastidas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mildred Bastidas said...

Praying for those that have said hurtful comments is the best way to deal with the sting of criticism. In my opinion is also important to let go of the feelings that linger If we pay too much attention to the destructive messages those comments send to our spirit.

Tanya Agler said...

Julie, Thank you for the post. I think a lot of times people worry that a one-star review for their book means a one-star review for them as a person, and that's not the case, but I can see where it would hurt, especially if the review said I loved the book but I'm giving it one star because it didn't arrive in time and took an extra day to get here. As an unpublished author who has entered more than a few contests, I know it hurts to get bad scores. Thank you for the honest look from a published perspective of a bad review.

Sandy Smith said...

I just wrote a long post and it disappeared when I tried to post it. I'm going to try to post this before I try again.

Sandy Smith said...

That comment worked so now I'm going to try again.

First, I couldn't believe that Jane Austen review. I would say that reviewer was clueless.

Julie, I'm so sorry that you have had so many nasty reviews. I don't understand people attacking the author. I think there are people who think Christian fiction should be like I think it used to be with very sanitized situations and perfect characters. I personally prefer to read Christian fiction that is realistic.

I want to know what book of Mary's was called pornographic? I think that is hilarious.

I already have Isle of Hope so please put me in the drawing for Glimmer of Hope.

Just Commonly said...

Hi Julie! Great post.

I don't particularly like the star rating system. I find that it limits a lot of what I truly meant to say, and that's why the reviewsame on my blog are not rated that way. However all the other sites from Amazon to Goodreads to CBD all have a star system and one 3-star does not equal the same 3 star in another!! Confusing!

I've never given a one star review but there was one very close last year. I had to remove myself and pray for something positive about the book. Eventually I was able to find positives while sharing some of the reasons why I did not find it warrants a higher rating from me. Again, don't like the star system....

No need to enter me in the giveaway. I have BOTH! YAY!

Lynne Feuerstein said...

Thank you Julie for this wonderful post. The message of learning something from failures and criticism really inspired me. Even though I'm not a writer I'll try to apply that to my daily life. (Especially the message of praying for those who curse me.) One thing surprised me,though,Julie when I read this. I can't imagine anyone hating one of your books and giving it such a bad rating. Well,hopefully they'll reread your books and come to love them as much as I do!! :)

Marianne Barkman said...

Coming here after a busy day...because I've had no time to read, yet! Julie, you are an AMAZING author. I'm still waiting for Glimmer...though sad to say I've read ISLE OF HOPE already. Sad? Well, Walt says if I didn't read it first, it's like coming late. And second, no matter how much I wish it to be otherwise, I can only read ISLE OF HOPE once for the first time! And I've also lost the anticipation of that first time read.

Julie Lessman said...

RUTHY SAID: Julie, I'm here for you whenever you need to relapse. I'll comfort you, then mock you.

LOL ... ain't that the truth! ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Walt Mussell said...

I've never had a one-star review. (Please, don't anyone rush out and give me one. :-) ) I hope I handle it well when I do. However, it sounds like I'm not failing enough.

Julie Lessman said...

NANCY, yes, isn't that unbelievable about Walt?? Just goes to show you one opinion does not the truth make. :)

And thank you for your kind comment, my friend, MUCH appreciated. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, NANCY, I'll bet you are, girlfriend! ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MILDRED SAID: "Praying for those that have said hurtful comments is the best way to deal with the sting of criticism. In my opinion is also important to let go of the feelings that linger If we pay too much attention to the destructive."

Oh, Mildred, EXCELLENT POINT, my friend, THANK YOU!! I certainly struggled with that in the beginning of my career, but hopefully it's under control now. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

TANYA SAID: "Especially if the review said I loved the book but I'm giving it one star because it didn't arrive in time and took an extra day to get here."

Oh, wow, Tanya, that's never happened to me, but I have seen that on products I've bought, which I think is awful!

YOU ALSO SAID: "I think a lot of times people worry that a one-star review for their book means a one-star review for them as a person, and that's not the case."

Very true, my friend. I know I took it that personally in the beginning, but fortunately I finally grew a thicker skin. :)

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, SANDY, what a bummer to have your comment eaten by blogger. That's happened to me before, so I know how frustrating it is. Thank you for taking the time to retype a comment, my friend, MUCH appreciated!

And, yeah, I'd say that Austen reviewer was WAY beyond clueless, God bless 'em!

I'm with you about more realistic Christian fiction that deals with real problems people face today and how to apply God's precepts. Can't really do that with sanitized stories, you know?

God bless Mary -- that's such a hoot that anyone would call her books x-rated or pornographic, but there's all kinds of people (and Christians) in the world, eh? ;)

You're in the draw, my friend, so GOOD LUCK!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, Annie, like I told Tina above, I actually agree with you both on the five-star system -- I don't really like it because in my opinion, it's not broad enough. I wish Amazon had a system closer to RWA's for judging books. I absolutely LOVE the idea of 1-10 with percentages because that way I can realllllly home in on what I thought of a book.

For instance, I had two Rita books this year that were both really good, so I rated them a 9, but one of them had a tinge more kick than the other -- not much -- but enough that I liked it better, so it felt so good giving that gal a 9.2 instead of a nine.

Also, with a 1-10 range, I think that sharpens the focus on true "LIKE" and "DISLIKE" because I would certainly be more inclined to give an 8 or a 9 to a book rather than a 10 if I had reservations about it, regardless if it was friend's book or not, since I feel that would help soften the blow, so to speak. Same way with the 1-stars -- they would give the reviewer who reallllly hates a book much more satisfaction since there is a broader ranger, allowing them a rating that is lowest of the low.

And, girl, there's no need for you to EVER enter any of my contests. My books are your books, always, because you are one of my favorite bloggers, my friend. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LYNNE SAID: "Well,hopefully they'll reread your books and come to love them as much as I do!! :)"

Oh, gosh, Lynne, I sincerely HOPE they don't reread them or any more of my books for that matter because one 1-star review from them is more than enough!! ;)

Although I have found certain reviewers who have given ALL of my books 1-stars, which begs the question -- if they hated the first one, why did the read the rest? Or ... are they just a Christian that feels it's their moral duty to rate a book they haven't read, on pure assumption and judgement??

Thanks for coming by, my friend, MUCH appreciated!

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MARIANNE, thank you SO much, my sweet friend, and I am sending you A Glimmer of Hope right now, okay? Just because your review of IOH blessed me so darn much!!

Hugs and more hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

WALT SAID: I've never had a one-star review. (Please, don't anyone rush out and give me one. :-) ) I hope I handle it well when I do. However, it sounds like I'm not failing enough.

LOL ... or succeeding too much!! ;)

I hope you never get one, my friend. :)

Hugs!!
Julie

Suzanne Baginskie said...

Julie, I am so far behind in reading these blogs and am catching up this morning. Thanks for taking the from your busy schedule to write this column. I haven't had a review yet, since I am only published only in short stories. But I appreciate all the information you gave us. It's all part of the writing world and another phase I will face eventually. Good luck to you with your new book.

Julie Lessman said...

SUZANNE, thank you so much for taking the time to come by -- I appreciate it (and you!) more than I can say.

Hugs and here's to a win!
Julie

Edwina said...

Julie, what a fantastic way to look at those negative reviews - not only reviews - but negative comments about anything in our lives. Thanks for the reminder that we must pray blessings for those who curse us. I have to admit, that's really hard sometimes!

Katy C. said...

Great post. I am not a writer, nor do I aspire to be a writer, but I do write reviews and writing them definitely scares me! Thank you, Julie, and all the rest of you who write good, clean, stories.
I totally agree with Vince's comment about Glimmer of Hope. (He said exactly what I was feeling when I finished Glimmer yesterday).

Katy C. said...

I meant to add that I own both books in the drawing, so please give them to some other lucky reader!

Julie Lessman said...

EDWINA,

Ain't that the truth, my friend, but God's got us covered with Luke 6:28, so THANK GOD!!

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Aw, KATY, you're a sweetheart, my friend, so if you win, how 'bout I send you an ecopy of A Light in the Window if you don't have that PLUS give your copy of IOH or AGOH to someone else as well. Deal??

Thanks for coming by AND for reading my books!

Hugs,
Julie

The Artist Librarian said...

Wow. I'm kind of still stuck on the fact that someone called one of Mary Connealy's books "pornographic" ... really? =0

I am a reader concerned with content, but ... exaggerations and such don't help at all and can be harmful. Especially when reading reviews of general market YA --it's sometimes hard to tell which reviews to believe, unless you recognize the name of reviewers or blogs ...

ohiohomeschool said...

I tend to not write a review if I do not like the book. It just seems rather mean to be hurtful to someone about their work. Sometimes too it is the mood or time in your life where things do not click. And really, I am not an editor or English major. :-) I like books that connect with me. . which is not quite predictable. :-)

I do love your books, and would love to win one.
Have a great week.
Becky B.

Julie Lessman said...

THE ARTIST LIBRARIAN SAID: "Wow. I'm kind of still stuck on the fact that someone called one of Mary Connealy's books "pornographic" ... really? =0"

LOL ... yes, REALLY, and trust me, my friend, we are ALL in shock over that as well! ;)

Hugs, Jenn, and GOOD LUCK!!
JULIE

Julie Lessman said...

BECKY, I am soooooo in agreement with you on this, girlfriend. I generally will not post a review unless I can honestly give it a 5-star, so we definitely think a like. AND probably are equally sensitive ourselves to any harsh words from people. :(

Thank you for reading my books, my friend, and you are definitely in the draw, girl, so GOOD LUCK!

Hugs,
Julie