by Joyce DiPastena
What do you do when you get a bad—or at least, a “below average”—review of your book on a site like GoodReads.com? I’m talking 2 stars. (So far, I’ve been fortunate enough to not earn fewer stars than that!)
Your first instinct is to be hurt, to feel like you must be a miserable writer, etc. But read those reviews closely. Some key phrases to look for: “Not being a fan of the romance [or fantasy or mystery] genre…”; “My enjoyment wanes when the romance [or fantasy or mystery] is the focal point of the plot..."
What do phrases like this really tell us? Not that our writing or novels are “bad”. Such phrases simply tell us that this particular reader does not fall into our “target audience” for our book. Who does fall into our “target audience”? Look again at GoodReads or Amazon or Shelfari, or any other reviewing sites for books, and focus, not on the two and three stars, but on the four and five stars, especially those who take the time to write a short review to tell us how much they enjoyed our romance (or fantasy or mystery). These are the people we are writing for, not the “non-fans” of our particular genre. And don’t forget those wonderful unsolicited emails we occasionally receive from perfect strangers, telling us how much they liked our book and demanding to know when we’re going to write another one.
If we try to satisfy everyone, fans and non-fans of our genres alike, we are only setting ourselves up to fail both. So keep that important question: “Who’s my target audience?” upfront and center in your mind. Write for those readers. They’ll thank you for it. And the rest simply doesn’t matter.