Friday, August 23, 2013
Kate Hewitt proves that even authors are fragile...plus a giveaway
Last summer, we shared our thoughts on writing a bad review and then asked authors how they felt on receiving a bad review. I still hold the stance that I will not publish a completely negative review. There are some authors who have said "bring it on," after I have warned them, but sometimes I won't even write the review at all or allow our reviewers to do so. If it sounds balanced, but still pretty negative, I'll check with the author before posting and also give them another option for featuring the book. I personally write fair and balanced reviews, offering the positive points, as well as constructive feedback. Today, we are revisiting the topic of bad reviews with Kate Hewitt, a Harlequin Romance novelist who just published her first women's fiction novel, This Fragile Life.
Kate Hewitt wrote her first story (one sentence, really) at the age of five, simply because her older brother had written one and she thought she could do it too. She then went on to study drama in college and shortly after graduation moved to New York City to pursue a career in theater. This was derailed by something far better—meeting the man of her dreams who happened also to be her older brother’s childhood friend.
Ten days after their wedding they moved to England, where Kate worked a variety of different jobs—drama teacher, editorial assistant, church youth worker, secretary, and finally mother. When her oldest daughter was one year old, she sold her first short story to a British magazine, The People’s Friend. Since then she has written many stories and serials as well as novels. In 2007 she published her first Harlequin Presents novel, The Italian’s Chosen Wife. Since then she has written over 25 books for Harlequin, and also writes women’s fiction for Carina UK and Lion Hudson Press.
Besides writing, Kate enjoys reading, traveling, and learning to knit (mainly scarves). She lives in a tiny village on the northwest coast of England with her husband, five young children, and an overly affectionate Golden Retriever. You can find her at her website, Facebook and Twitter.
Kate has a special prize for a lucky reader anywhere in the world. Read her post to find out what it is! You can also enter her Flavors of Summer contest on Facebook for a chance to win a $300 gift card!
The Truth About Bad Reviews
by Kate Hewitt
Thanks so much for having me here--I'm so excited to share my first women's fiction, This Fragile Life, with you!
I was asked to blog about reviews and how they affect a writer, which is a very interesting subject--and one writers have varying opinions about. Things have changed a lot since I started writing, when Amazon was only a river and the internet wasn't anything more than email. Now there is so much information online, so much community and interest and opinion, that writers are receiving a lot more online attention. That is a great, great thing--but it can also be a hard thing.
Reading bad reviews about your book is hard. Never mind whether the review is thoughtful or snarky, long or short, apologetic or aggressive. Bad reviews hurt. Fortunately, after eight years of being published, I've developed a thick skin in regards to reviews--and I've had enough experience with bad ones to do so! The first Amazon review of my first book was one star and all of three words: 'just plain dumb'. That devastated me for days.
Bad reviews can affect your writing. They can make you wonder whether you're washed up or a fraud. They can give you writer's block., or make writing feel like even more of a slog than usual. They always seem to count more than good reviews; good reviews, you tell yourself, are written by delusional people who never say a bad word about anyone. Bad reviews are Total Truth.
But--and this is a very big and important but--bad reviews can also be helpful. I know some writers who will never read a bad review of one of their books, or simply disregard any bad reviews they read, and that seems to work for them, which is fine. I can't do that. So I read every bad review--even the ones that seem to spew hatred--and consider what I can learn from it. I remember one of the first bad reviews of one of my books that I read said something like 'could have been good except for all the repetitive junk'. I thought about that for awhile, and then I realized that I was in fact repeating a lot of the internal conflict of my characters throughout the book! That review really helped me grow as a writer.
Of course, some reviews don't really help you as a writer. Some people are just not going to like your writing, and you need to accept that. I went through a short, frantic phase of trying to write for every reader, and that didn't work. Try to please everyone and you'll probably end up pleasing no one.
In the end, a bad review is simply one person's opinion, and that person is absolutely entitled to think whatever he or she likes about your book. Understanding that logically is easier than handling it emotionally, but with time and experience it becomes easier to get a little perspective on your own writing as well as the reviews of it.
Navigating the online writing and reading community can be challenging; I've seen a lot of authors behaving badly as well as a lot of readers writing over-the-top snarky reviews, and sometimes it feels easier to keep my head below the parapet and concentrate on writing rather than what is online.
But in the end? I'm grateful for all the online opportunities there are for writers, and I'm always glad when someone took the time to write down her opinion of my book, even if my story made her want to throw the book against the wall. And I'm glad I have learned a lot through the bad reviews of my work that I've read.
What do you think about bad reviews--writing, reading, or how authors respond to them? Leave a comment and one random commenter will win a paperback copy of one of my Harlequin Presents and an Amazon gift card!
Where To Find This Fragile Life:
And it will be available on Barnes & Noble soon!
Special thanks to Kate for visiting with us and sharing one of her books and a gift card with our readers.
How to win: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. If you have questions on how to use it, e-mail us.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Open worldwide. Giveaway ends August 28th at midnight EST.