Tuesday, September 05, 2006


"Critics are like eunuchs in a harem: they know how it's done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves." - Brendan Francis Behan

A writing friend who had her first book released in April let me know about a series of bad news she'd recently received. Some of it was regarding rejections, and - yunno - those happen to everyone all the time. You just gotta keep writing and working and putting your best foot forward. How many of you have been writing for five or ten or more years, submitting stuff and are STILL not published?

The other bad news she got was a poor review from a fairly well respected romance site. Now, that one had to hurt. Someone just called your baby ugly and stupid.

"Pay no attention to what the critics say; there has never been set up a statue in honor of a critic." - Jean Sibelius

I'm a picky reader. I like what I like. Period. As a reading writer, I have little time to waste on stuff I don't like. I read other blogs and sites to get recommendations for books, so I'm not shopping blind. Typically, I'll order the ones that get rave reviews from regular folks (NOT the review sites) from the library first. If I enjoy them, then I'll buy them and pop them onto my keeper shelf. The books I buy without doing this are usually published by people I know.

That said...

Only about one in ten books that get rave reviews from the folks I trust online are books that I enjoy. Recently, I stumbled across several reviews for a romantic suspense writer's series -- everyone was talking about them: Great! Edge of your seat! HEA! Strong characters!

I thought, WOO! Can't wait to read these, and (of course) ordered them from the library. I didn't get past the third chapter in the first book before being absolutely fed up -- weak story line, graphic (unemotional) sex (complete with toys!) between the hero and some lady he picked up in a bar on the first ten pages or so (before even giving us a clue about the plot), and a bitter, angry heroine that I couldn't identify with. BAM!! Wall banger.

The frustrating thing is that reviews can make or break a novel in terms of financial success. And IMHO, I seldom agree with them.

What weight do you give to reviews? Do you have some that you respect more than others? Have you found that you typically agree or disagree with the reviews you read on the books out there?


Ceri said...

I'd listen to my friends opinions faster than a critic's. For books or movies. Still doesn't make it better when a writer gets a bad review. I'm dreading when my books come up for reviews. I'll be chewing my nails right up to the knuckles.

blsnw-blue lobsters sneak north weakly

Judy said...

I'm with Ceri. I trust my friends' before I trust "professional" critics or reviewers. In my experience, (and this pertains esp. to movies, btw), movies the critics just rave about I tend to find ho-hum. And, contrary-wise, those they hate I find that I enjoy. Maybe it's just my own contrariness coming out. That said... I know that when it comes to the romance list what I'm about to say is going to get me expelled.... I do not enjoy Nora's books. Never have. The storyline's are generally not interesting enough for me to get by all the headhopping. I know... I'm weird. So, sue me. I DO keep trying... after all, we're supposed to read in the field we want to write. The last one I picked up.... in the first three pages she was in (it seemed like) eight different heads... ARGGGG.

ynslaxy- you never saw lazy alligaters (e)xtend youth