Friday, June 29, 2012

The BAD Review

   Nope, not my kind of book. Vvveeerrryyy long, too many twists & pretentious writing. The last 20 pages were the only redeeming factor of this book.

   Yes, it had to happen, didn't it?  If we write a novel and don't expect someone to dislike it, we're either naive, overconfident or have completely lost touch with reality.
   Still, my entire morning was ruined by this young lady's review.   
   I'm not writing this to discredit her.  Believe it or not, I messaged her and told her that I felt sorry that she didn't find THE GAZE to her liking, and I thanked her for her honest opinion.
   Did it bother me?
   Of course it bothered me, it bothered me so much that I knew the only way to get past it, was for me to blog about it, so here I am.
   Those of you out there writing your novels know how much of ourselves goes onto the page, particularly when we write from the heart.  So, I'm fairly positive I will find some sympathy among you, but this is by no means a pity party, it's an opportunity to reassess and learn.
   While writing GAZE, I realized no two people read anything the same way.  No one interprets a passage equally, and everyone gets their own personal connection to a story they read, which varies from person to person.  We are all so different, and our life experience has much to do with our likes and dislikes.  In other words, we'd be foolish to believe we can please every single person out there.
   This person's words have brought my feet back on the ground before I floated away in a cloud of overconfidence, thinking I totally know what I'm doing.  I realize I may have much more to learn and I look forward to the challenge.  I wish I understood what she means by the pretentious part. 
   She's got me there... 
   And of course, I'm glad to have found some redemption in those twenty pages, according to her.  I'm glad I didn't waste all her time.
   One of the chief complaints I've received about GAZE is its length.  488 pages seem to be way too much for many people to handle.  Not one of those people will ever know that I cut the story like a bush explorer blazing a new trail, and yet, it turned into a large body of work nonetheless.  I will never apologize for it, of course, because the next leading comment I've seen is "I didn't want it to end".
   I'm not about to hand over my book with a label NOT FOR IMPATIENT READERS.  The same way I've taken a chance in writing a novel, a reader takes a chance in reading it.
   My duty as a writer is to the content of the novel first and foremost.  When the book is done, I lay it out on the chopping block knowing that the chances of success are 50/50 at best.  People will like it or they won't.
   I've taken great, immeasurable comfort from the fact that several people I've come to admire have pulled the axe away, and praised the novel, allowing me to believe I did all right.
   Those of you out there writing your first novel, keep in mind that there will be days like these.  You have to respect the opinions of your readers, and understand that their beliefs and attitudes are the result of their own life experience, and if what you wrote failed to touch those parts of them, the connection is simply not going to happen, no matter what you write. 
   Writing a novel is about taking risks.  You may offend some readers, yet you may inspire others, and you may accomplish this with that same body of work, those same words read through different minds.  It's fascinating, if you think about it.  A bad review is not the end of the world.  It certainly is not the end of my world. 
   This BAD review has grounded me and kept me humble in my perception of myself as an author, despite the cold shiver of agonizing disappointment that coursed through me when I first read it.  I'm trying to face it and absorb its impact then it's gone, and it's on to expect the next review, hoping that proverbial axe doesn't fall onto my novel.
   I feel much better after sharing this experience.  That's what this is, an expeirience, a part of the entire process, and I've chosen to aknowledge it and with that done, I'm moving on to write the next  novel that will either find praise by those who make a connection or it will be just another pretentious passage in the eyes of someone who may inevitably care enough about to give it a BAD review.
   And I welcome it...

   Javier A. Robayo


  1. My books receive a liberal sprinkling of five stars down to one star, although I always doubt the authenticity of a one star review of anyone's book -- usually those who give one stars are trolls who delight in bringing down the book's "score" My editor at Kensington Publishing Group advised me to not read my reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. "The only review that matters to you is the one from your editor -- the one where he or she wants to sign you to another two book contract."

  2. Thank you, I appreciate the comment.

  3. Well, at least the person bought the book (or at least you can pretend that they did). I wouldn't mind a bad review (I suppose) if it came with cash payment.

  4. Javier, a bad review is just part of the business. If you look at John Grisham's books, you will see he gets a lot of one stars. The only reason a bad review bothers you is because you take what you do seriously. Your analysis is right on the money. Just keep your head down and keep writing. We are all in this together. Regards, Stephen Woodfin

  5. Here is the situation for being a writer. We write the best we can. Not every reader likes the novel or the genre. Not every book reviewer will think our well-chosen words are wonderful, and some reviewers get a perverted sense of pleasure out of criticizing other people's work. Forget a bad review. Move on. Don't worry about it. I still believe that readers believe in good books more than they do bad reviews.

  6. I wrestled with making this blog, but now I'm glad I put it out there because I know that if there's another author who's gotten a bad review, your words and advice will help them out as much as they've helped me. Thank you, gentlemen. Should you ever need anything from me, just say the word.

  7. Don't you heed any of those words from this little tart. Pretentious writing? All fiction is a pretense, that's why it's fiction. And Amazon kindly declares the length of each book. This woman must be a magazine reader, short and simplistic writing, so she can draw some understanding.
    Sadly, you will have those who turn their nose up at your novel and I don't have to cover anything, for you are far ahead of me in your understanding. Way to handle it, Javier!
    I'll be the first to admit The Gaze is not for everyone, buy everyone would inevitably draw something from reading it. Believe in your voice, believe in your stories, and take to heart the words of these wonderful people who also write. Reak book readers are smart individuals who'll recognize your novel for what it it, a five star body of work.

  8. You know what will make you feel better? Go to IMDB and think of your very favorite movie of all time. Think of a movie that's SO good, you can't possibly comprehend how anybody cannot like it. If it's a movie that everybody you know thinks is great too - even better.

    Now, pull up the reviews and sort by "hated it" and read the bad reviews. My point is, no matter how good a piece of art is - movie, music, TV, book - there will always be somebody out there that doesn't like it. It'll make you feel better knowing that even *insert movie title here* gets bad reviews.

  9. You're totally right, Robert. I draw immense comfort out of reviews done by people who know what they're doing. We'll have our bad ones, can't please everyone. All we can do is keep writing the next novel.