ST. ALBANS, Jan 16 – Yes, it’s unwise for an indie author to pay too much heed to their reviews. The next one star tomahawk may shatter their spine at any second.
Yet Amazon reviews are often ‘creative and imaginative’, little works of art in themselves – good fun. So here are my thoughts on a few which have winged my way.
I don’t think this reviewer was entirely happy, ‘If there is a story here that’s worth reading then the author has done their very best to hide it’. The sufferer then noted their struggle to read on before, ‘giving up and walking away’. One star – thud!
On the same story, another reader advised, ‘dance with it’.
In the great indie cage fight, any review is arguably a blessing to the struggling combatant. The message of ig-nor-ance is possibly a more hurtful put-down than a review from one who at least starts to read a story, tries their best to warm to it, to get it, only to then put it down because it is just not for them. We’ve all been there, thought dark thoughts about one star being one too many.
Yet critical reviews may actually be most ’empowering and liberating’ feedback for an indie who is able to learn and benefit from any ‘real insights’ to be had from them.
Reviews grow around a story, become a part of it. Some are ‘better than chocolate’ others are ‘an offbeat reading experience’. All count.
Comments from readers who take the time to note literels and like infelicities in the text are often especially valuable, as such readers tend to write balanced and trustworthy reviews ‘full of observant vignettes’. The stuff of future edits.
And which author would not be gratified when a stranger says of their words, ‘beautifully written’, or ‘brilliant and deeply moving’? ‘If your eyes don’t feel slightly moist, there’s no hope for you.’ Just so.
That said, dabs such as, ‘read it slowly’ and ‘I read it too fast’ carry even more weight as they are like guiding chalk marks for new readers. Here be ‘twists and turns’.
Some comments come in ‘precise sentences’, the best of which inform: ‘If you want a philosophical, thoughtful read, this is the novella for you.’ Approving nods.
To others a story may be like ‘an old friend’, or makes them feel ‘like I was there’, or that they ‘loved the journey’.
But the greatest laurels go to the patient reader whose insight is so acute they capture a book’s beating heart in a blink: ‘a little story that you don’t quite notice until its final act’.
So here’s to reading with verve! And a heartfelt thanks to all who have reviewed…
by R J Askew