Sunday, April 25, 2021

Cups of Tea

When a reader takes the time to find your email address and compose a letter telling you they don’t like your books, how do you respond? How would you like to respond, if that’s different?

Good Monday morning. Brenda Chapman at the keyboard.

All authors get one-star and negative reviews, but it takes a really disgruntled reader to track down an author's contact information in order to tell them how much they hate their books. I'm  fortunate to never have received an entirely negative email about my books although some have included negative elements. 

The criticism has generally been about the audio tapes for Cold Mourning and Butterfly Kills. Several listeners haven't liked the actress's voice on the tapes. (However, to be fair, others have found her voice to be fine.) Another type of criticism I've received concerns the grammar errors in my books, Since the buck ultimately stops with my publisher, I always send the observations to them so that they can correct the errors in future editions and in the ebooks. 

I'm always appreciative when a reader takes the time to go to my website to track down my email address and send a note to me, no matter the content. I'm delighted when they do this to tell me how much they like my books and my writing. I respond to each and every one and thank the person for their comments. Sometimes I let them know that I'm sharing their email with my publisher if it concerns the grammar or audiotape issues.

I prefer to receive a reader's criticism privately rather than on a social media site, such as Goodreads. Recently, my Stonechild and Rouleau series has been receiving multiple reviews and ratings every day on Goodreads. Most are positive, some are heart-warming, a few are negative or one-star. Some reader reviews don't like my characters swearing. Others aren't fans of any violence (although these are crime fiction so ....) It's amazing to me how the same book can illicit such widely divergent responses. Taste truly is subjective.

Earlier in my writing career, I was thrown by the negative comments, letting the criticism simmer and replay in my head. Some would make me wonder why I was even writing ... why I even got out of bed in the morning. I've learned to weigh the few bad ratings and comments against the multitude of positive and often glowing reviews, to take everything with a grain of salt or honey :-)

Another decision I made early on was never to comment on a public review, no matter how egregious the comment or off-base the observation. I don't respond to any reviews although I do read them! Of course, if someone sends a private message to me, I'll respond to them directly. Usually though, what I say in my head to a negative review on a social media platform is: Please don't read any more of my books. They obviously aren't your cup of tea. Strangely though, some of these readers go on to critique the entire series, book by book.

All this to say, I never take a reader's interest in my writing for granted. Every time someone takes the time to email me or post a review or a rating, I'm inwardly tickled. I'll close with a few lines from reviews that make me smile because why focus on the negative?

"Brilliant murder/mystery fleshed out to perfection." (Bleeding Darkness)

"It is rare that I read a book that makes me feel as though if I don't write my review the second I finish it the wonderfulness of it may escape me. This was one of those." (Butterfly Kills)

"When you turn the last page and are disappointed there is no more - 5 stars!" (Tumbled Graves)

"Excellent case, excellent characters, and I couldn't be happier with the conclusion." (Closing Time)

"Turning Secrets”challenged my preconception of police procedurals and has emerged triumphant. Chapman has, without doubt, taken the genre to a new level."

"It had me until the very end. I had no idea how it would all come together. Great read!" (In Winter's Grip)

I mean who wouldn't feel energized by such praise? Yup, focusing on the positive works for me.

Website (with my contact information if you want to send along your comments :-)

Facebook & Instagram: BrendaChapmanAuthor

Twitter: brendaAchapman


Dietrich Kalteis said...

I agree with you, Brenda, why focus on the negative.

Josh Stallings said...

Yep, I agree, never argue with a bad review, and I try to give them as little space in my head as possible. I do look to see if it's a fair criticism, ones that I may not agree with but see their point. Others are never going to like what I do, and that's fine. Solid point to keep positive.

Brenda Chapman said...

Thanks Dietrich and Josh - You can't go wrong focusing on the positive :-)