Welcome to my Writing blog. If you're interested in my comments about "My Favorite Things," my articles for yourLDSneighborhood.com, and Life in general, click here. For a direct link to my website, click rondahinrichsen.com.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Learning from Book Reviews by Ronda HInrichsen

Betrayed, my recently released novel, has been receiving some awesome, reader reviews, and I am so happy and grateful so many people have enjoyed it. I also love learning from those statements what I did right in my book and what I want to continue to include in my future stories. Praise and learning--the perfect combination. :)

However, sometimes we get reviews that mention elements about our book the reviewer didn't like, or worse, their comments are simply unkind; i.e., the reviewer hates everything about the book and is not opposed to sharing that opinion with the world. It's a given. No matter who the author is, they will receive such reviews. But I've found that if I look beyond the criticism and consider the review as a response to my work, just as I do when I'm reading it aloud to others, I can learn a great deal that will help me with my writing, and sometimes with my career as an author.

For instance, if a reviewer states she enjoyed elements of the book, like the lovely descriptions and the relationship I developed between the characters, but the story was slow and it took her a long time to get through the book (By the way, this is not one of my reviews.), I first try to understand what the reviewer is really saying, In this case, I'd see that while I met some of my goals, because I want my readers to enjoy the setting and the characters, I'd also notice I didn't meet another of my goals, which is I do not want readers to want to put my book down. So it might be that I need to increase my pacing and suspenseful elements. I then keep that information in mind as I read others' reviews and decide if the reviewer was right. If so, I have some writing work and learning to do.

As far as the hate-everything-reviewer goes, most of the time that reader is NOT YOUR READER anyway, and there's no point in spending a lot of time worrying about how to fix something to that reader's tastes.But, if the reviewer mentions an element in my book that mine didn't have or didn't do well but that he really want to be there, I consider whether or not his points are valid and whether or not I should work on what he said. After that, I move on.  Part of marketing work includes trying to find those readers who like what we write, so I try to hang on to the praisers I find and not worry about the rest.

Finally, most of the time it's not recommended that an author respond to a reader's review, but this "rule", like so many others, is one that needs to be followed or not followed according to the situation. In the following case, I thought I should respond to a question a reviewer had because my answer could also help those who read this blog. She mentioned this about my character, Tom:

"I thought his profession was interesting as well and I'm kind of curious to know how that was decided on for the story and the research the author did for it."  htp://www.wishfulendings.com/2015/01/blog-tour-review-giveaway-betrayed-by.html#more

Answer: I came up with the initial idea for Tom's profession while I was watching a historical documentary about one of the World Wars. I don't remember which, probably WWII, but in either case, it talked about how a battle situation was won because they had a magician figure out how to deceive the enemy through an illusion. I loved that idea and ran with it. As far as the research goes, there are always small bits of information I have to look up as I write the story, but most of Tom's character and especially his tricks came from the book, Hiding the Elephant, by Jim Steinmeyer.


Tressa S said...

You were brave in reading my review. :) I think it's a tough balance to decide to do that or not and even my reviews might have one negative thing even though I mean them in the best way and like the book as a whole.

I'm glad you found my question in there because I was really curious. It made me wonder if a hotel hiring a magician was common or not at that time and how you might run across that in histories. I liked how that idea of making someone see something that is or isn't there was weaved through the story. Thanks for responding!

Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen said...

You're welcome. I don't recall right off if I looked for/found info on hotels hiring magicians, but I do know that Niagara, at that time, was booming with tourists and money-making events, so it made sense to me that a new hotel owner would find ways to advertise their hotel and entertain their guests, just like people do now. :)