I cannot believe I’m putting this out there, drawing attention to it. Part of me wants to sweep it away under the dusty bed skirt where the broom and vacuum don’t even reach- but it would still be there.
The unthinkable has happened. Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages got a review of 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. My first C on a mostly A report card. Gasp! (Thankfully, my Amazon rating is still excellent)
This was a reminder of what I told myself before I released the book, yet I had forgotten. You cannot please all the people all the time and this world is made up of people of all different opinions and preferences. It was always only a matter of time before it happened, especially once my readership began to grow. I should be thankful for that part.
I know I had much to learn from the experience of publishing this book. I was totally on my own when I did it and really a bit clueless. I’ve learned much since then that will help me improve for the next, and criticism has to be a helpful part of the growing experience. We learn from mistakes, right?
Most of the issues mentioned by the reviewer were merely matter of opinion. She didn’t connect with my character or like some of my choices in style, seemingly thinking I had done them by mistake when I had been quite purposeful. Many adults have read my book and enjoyed the nostalgia factor, but my true target has always been tweens, so if an adult didn’t connect with Drew, I can live with that. My reviewer didn’t like that the book seemed like short stories all tied together, but I told the story in vignettes on purpose to follow the fashion of a memoir, since that’s what the title says it is (though a fictional one). All this means is this particular person just didn’t connect with the book. Not everybody will. I knew it would happen eventually. Not everyone likes chocolate or dogs either, and though I cannot fathom it, I accept it.
The funny irony about this particular review is that it came from someone who won my book as a giveaway I did in order to call some attention back to the book on Goodreads while I prepare to release the next installment. I’m glad winning the book didn’t make my reviewer feel obligated to give a five star review if she didn’t believe in it though. Seriously, I can respect that, but I do have two genuine complaints that I hope anyone else planning to review any author’s book will keep in mind:
1) A 3 star review isn’t bad because it keeps the ratings well-rounded and shows people are being honest; however, if you give someone a review over one or two stars, instead of only highlighting what you do not like about the book, try to find a few positive things to say as well.
2) It was mentioned that there were errors in grammar and such, but if there were it was likely done purposefully (the title alone is incorrect). In the early editions of the book I did find a few typos that horrified me, but I (and others) went back though it meticulously in various formats so as not to miss anything. That is the former English teacher in me coming out. I cannot say it is 100% perfect, but at least 98%.
My last bit of advice today is to other authors out there. Use my lesson to learn to also accept what you cannot change. Even if I rewrote the issues this reader did not like, there would always be someone else out there who wouldn’t like it. Not everyone will love your book, but do you love it?