Fifty Shades of Reviewers

Guest Blogger Robbi Bryant takes a hard look at book reviews and wonders why so many reviewers feel that is their responsibility to lace their criticisms with such personal and downright rude, often crude, opinions and remarks. Of course, as John Grisham said, critics should find meaningful work.

Robbi Bryant

Out of forty-eight reviews, my latest novel THE BEAUTIFUL EVIL, has thirty 5-star reviews. Of the remaining eighteen, six are one star. Okay, fine. No issues there. Here’s where I have trouble: some of the comments by the readers about myself or the main character are searing. It’s as if they have taken me into their “Red Room Of Pain” (from Fifty Shades Of Grey,) and whipped the hell out of me with a belt.

One one-star reviewer stated that she wasn’t sure whether to “slap the character or the author.” Really?  Another said, “The only good thing about the book was the length, and that it was a free download.” The discrepancy between the five star majority (“riveting, well-written” and “stunning psychological thriller,” for example) and reviews such as the negative ones I’ve mentioned, is vast.

Which leads me to this. Instead of falling on the floor, pounding my fists and crying, “Why don’t they love me?” I’ve turned the small group of negative (regardless of how barbed the knife) into great advertising. My tweets: “LOVE IT OR HATE IT The Beautiful Evil is the buzz. REACTIONS ARE STRONG. Check the reviews! ” has actually brought me more sales.

Let’s face it – controversy, the dark side and/or heated reactions sell. And just like the protagonist in Fifty Shades Of Gray I refuse to be controlled. I choose to turn lemons into lemonade (excuse the cliché.) Almost all of my one-star reviewers not only finished the book but felt strong enough write a (albeit seething) reviews. That alone says something.

When I read the negative reviews for the incredibly poor writing in the Fifty Shades Trilogy (which I wholeheartedly agree with) and wonder how these books became such massive bestsellers, I realize this – she had fifty percent one star reviews. And like everyone else, poor writing and all, I couldn’t put it down.


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