LONE STAR STATEMENT

By Marguerite Quantaine

I’ve often tried to hearten authors who despair over bad reviews, reminding them that a critic says as much about herself as the book she applauds, or pans (even though no amount of encouraging words can provide solace to one whose sales figures might plummet as a result of an unmerited critique).
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Nevertheless, having recently received my first one star review since the release of my novel in 2014, I’ve decided to discuss the evaluation here, as a way to reaffirm my assertion that words reveal the nature of every writer.
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IMOGENE’S ELOISE: Inspired by a true love story
1.0 out of 5 stars
Where did all those 5 star reviews come from?
By Jxxxxxxxx Gxxxxxx
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“Thank goodness you can “Try a Sample” of every Kindle book. I have saved myself a lot of disappointment by getting the sample first.

I didn’t get very far with this book. The main character wakes up one morning and tries to piece together the events of the night before. She got a little drunk, danced with a woman, and kissed her.

I do not have a issue with this being a love story between two women. We have our gays. But the author starts her story at such a frenetic pace; the main character is in complete meltdown mode, and the author is heavy on the details of this woman’s inner life. It was just all too much. The author uses a lot of words and doesn’t say much.”
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IN ORDER TO DETERMINE THE VALIDITY of any evaluation, ask yourself five quick questions:.
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1. What one sentence stands out the most in the review of your book?
For me,  in this review, that sentence was, “We have our gays.”
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2. What does it tell you about the nature of person who wrote the review of your book?
I suspected homophobia, but condescension also came to mind.
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However, I don’t allow perceived obviousness to detract from any valid portion of a review.
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True, at first this person contends she doesn’t have an issue with the book being a love story between two women — then clarifies her assertion by being exclusively categorical. But she follows the clarification by warning the reader of the fast pace the book sets, and that the “inner life” of the main character is revealed.
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I asked myself, did the critic miss the subtitle of the book: Inspired by a true love story? Or, did she think the true story should have been tempered by alternative facts?
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Had the reviewer read the book in it’s entirety, she’d have learned the pace is purposely panicky — and that every line of the first chapter is a thread that connects to the final chapter, where the reader learns how very much was said, indeed.
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As for the kiss? It didn’t happen. Perhaps the reviewer was channeling Katy Perry, or her assumptions interfered with her assessment.
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No matter. In essence, the review (except for the kiss) is accurate.
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3. What do you think was her true intent for writing a review of your book?
Possibly, to dissuade others from reading the book. Because that happens, especially when the topic interferes with the reader’s religious beliefs, or political position.
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Also, consider that there’s a certain popularity contest associated with success, and that those who harbor resentments relish bringing down others via a misplaced abuse of power (the pen being mightiest). But being bias is a double edged nib. Those who like you are just as likely to tip the scales in your favor.
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That’s why I caution authors against either attracting the first, or encouraging the latter. Instead, let honesty prevail.
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Remember: Truth is a blessing. Deceit is a lesson.
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4. Has the critic ever written any other reviews for your genre?
J.G.’s Amazon history indicates she has not.
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5. Did the critic actually read your book?
J.G. readily admits she did not read my book, so the criticism was limited to an opinion of the first chapter which she failed to finish, as evidenced by the ‘kiss’ she inserted that didn’t occur.
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I’M NOT CERTAIN IF ALL AUTHORS take time to track their book sales on Amazon, but I do, and verified the sale of 9 more books the day the J.G. review was published than were sold the prior day.

I think that’s because J.G. drew attention to the Look Inside Amazon offer of IMOGENE’S ELOISE prior to purchase, which apparently resulted in people doing exactly that, ultimately disagreeing with her estimation.
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Ironically, the Look Inside free is exactly why I encourage readers to ‘try before you buy’ in order to prevent buyers remorse.
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ALL OF THIS MAKES MY SUGGESTIONS to writers who ask my advice fairly generic:

(A) Write well.
(B) Create a five year plan to promote each book and be diligent. 
(C) Don’t expect everyone to understand, love, or agree with what you write.
(D) Learn from every review, regardless of its merit, or lack thereof.
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FINALLY, DON’T WASTE A MINUTE of your creative energy bemoaning a review you feel is unfair.

Instead, ask yourself if it’s fair that not every woman has the talent, ambition, dreams, perseverance, courage, business acumen, disposition, self-esteem and skill it takes to be a writer? (Hint: No.) 
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That alone gives you license to greet each morning by patting yourself on the back — because writing a book is a prodigious accomplishment.
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This is me, standing.

Applauding you.

Brava!

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How do you handle a bad review? What advice do you offer?
I welcome your feedback and encourage you to share this on social media.
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Please add your thoughts here by selecting REPLY.
I’m all eyes and heart.

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10 thoughts on “LONE STAR STATEMENT

  1. Nancy Heredia

    You know very well that I loved your book and your are spot on in your analysis of the reviewer’s evident bias. And I will add that this person is also intellectually dishonest in that she reviewed a book without actually reading it and complaining about something that didn’t even happen. We ‘have our gays’ Really?? 5 stars for your blog post!

    Reply
    1. margueritequantaine Post author

      You made me laugh out loud, Nancy. As Martha would say, “It’s a good thing.” And that’s really the point of embracing reviews, isn’t it? If we can take into account the intent of the reviewer (our perspective at least) and salvage any legitimacy left, we benefit. The stars count very little by comparison. A well written book will rise above the rhetoric.

      Reply
  2. Yvonne Heidt

    What a perfectly apt blog for me today! Not only do I cry (really) when I receive bad reviews – I take them to heart. EVERYONE is entitled to their opinion of course – however after reading this – just one more of your awesome blogs – I can ask myself these same questions to save myself the heartbreak and not feed the “insecurity” gorilla that lives on my back.
    I can give my friends awesome advice about NOT reading the ones that hurt or are mean-spirited – as yours was – mean spirited – but it’s hard to take our own advice!
    And you know how much I loved Imogene’s Eloise – it has a special place of honor on my shelves 🙂

    Reply
  3. margueritequantaine

    You were one of the very first people to read my debut blog, VonVon, and you’ve always been very generous of spirit. I’m certain you’re valued for that. Naturally, knowing that some critic made you cry pangs me. Direct me towards the commentary that caused you distress and let’s see if we can find the silver lining together, shall we? I am there for you kiddo.

    Reply
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