Friday, May 31, 2013

Reviews - how useful are they?

Today’s Friday Friend, Toni Lynn Cloutier, talks about reviews .

Have you ever written or received a book review?

I picked this topic because lately I’ve been hearing about negative/spiteful posts on Goodreads and Amazon. It makes me wonder if reviews really matter to readers when it comes to purchasing a book. Sometimes a negative review can pique the interest of folks just as much as a good review. I know honest reviews have made a difference for me as a writer.

As a reader, there are a few things I read before I buy a book. The back blurb gives me an idea of the plot, the first few pages gives me a feel of the author’s writing style, and then I read the acknowledgements because I like to read the personal side of an author. Only if I purchase a book from online, of course, I will glance at the reviews.

If you have been following my tour, you will know that I am a writer who is not a big reader. So if a plot or the writing catches my interest, I will read the book regardless of the reviews.

With that said, as an author who receives reviews, I have to say that reading a good review feels like being the ugly duckling getting a compliment from a beautiful swan. It’s priceless!!!! Of course all writers would love for a review to be positive but the reality is not everyone is going to enjoy your story. I totally get that. I don’t mind a positive/honest review I can learn from such as this one:

This review is for The Patriot Girl (The No Bulls Series) (Kindle Edition) by By Jess@From Me to You ... Book Reviews (Elizabeth City, NC)
4 out of 5 stars, this dramatic romance throws a lot of twists your way and keeps you wanting more! I thoroughly enjoyed the chemistry and relationship between MaKayla and Dustin!! It's as if they were made for each other! Also, I appreciated MaKayla's dedication to Paul, even though at times I just wanted her to give up her personal fight earlier than she did so she could have been with Dustin sooner!
My only big problem with the book was all the little secondary storyline questions that were left unanswered. Like .... What happened to Tiffany to make her not show up to meet Buck? Did Tiffany's Dad like the "gift?" Will MaKayla and Dustin have more kids? What did MaKayla's in-laws think of Dustin? ... etc. So, I hope that within the next book in this series they will answer some of these questions and more.
Otherwise, I recommend this novel to those of you who like reading a dramatic-packed contemporary romance!!

How great is that? Now those of you who have read the book might be thinking.. Hmmm…I never thought of that. I remember these questions were answered in the original story but somehow had been deleted during the revisions. I never thought they were that important, but obviously someone thought so. It’s these little things a writer might miss in a story and I’m glad Jess mentioned them because it will help me to consider what to include in book 2 and what not to exclude in book 2.

You never know what your words can do to an author. Just a small shout out to say “Awesome book!” can make a writer's day. There are several ways to compliment an author. A private email, a post on Facebook, a Tweet, a full review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or on your own personal blog.

Here is a private email I received from Patty H, a reader in Rhode Island:
Good morning. Here’s a BIG compliment for you. As I was reading Patriot Girl last night I cried twice; real tears! Once when Jodi was arguing w/Makayla at the bank about Paul being “dead”. And then again when Dustin was at the hospital and remembering what happened. I’ve got to tell you I am really enjoying this story; no bull.

I enjoyed receiving this email because there is a personal story behind the first scene she described. I, too, cried while writing this part of the story. My husband came into the room as the tears were flowing. When I told him I was crying because of what I was writing, he shook his head, smiled, and then quietly left me to my characters. At this point, his reaction had me laughing that I had to stop and get myself together. So reading that Patty had the reaction I’d hoped readers would, had really made my day.

If you’ve never written a review or think you can’t, don’t worry. The only thing a review is, or at least should be, is the reader's honest opinion on a book. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Knowing there are readers out there enjoying what we do helps us to sit behind a computer and live in a fantasy world for a few hours while we put our real world on hold.

So, if you’ve ever read a book and really enjoyed it, or just want to tell the author your thoughts, don’t hesitate to send her/him a quick email or a short letter in the mail or a quick comment on Amazon. It could mean the difference between a writer writing her/his next book or throwing the computer out the window.

So, do you think an author should be concerned about whether or not he/she has good or bad reviews?

Toni Lynn Cloutier lives in Rhode Island with her husband and teenage son. She likes listening to country music while cleaning house, rearranging furniture, and playing with the cat they adopted from the shelter. As well as writing contemporary romances, she has also compiled two word search puzzle books which are fun and entertaining for all ages.

The Patriot Girl (published by The Wild Rose Press)
MaKayla Adams has always been curious about the wild side of life. Making love with her late husband wasn’t exciting, and she never could understand the big deal…until hunky nightclub owner Dustin James hires her as a public relations consultant. His touch arouses feelings she’s never known, and his kiss tempts her to cross the line between business and pleasure.
Dustin doesn’t remember the car accident that put him in a coma three years ago, but since his recovery, he’s pushed his own needs aside to be a single father to his young daughter. When MaKayla offers to help publicize his country nightclub, however, she ignites deeper feelings he can’t ignore.
But there is more than mutual attraction between MaKayla and Dustin—there is a shared past connected to her husband’s death. Will the truth bring them together or tear them apart?

She tilted her head toward his touch. “We do have an unusual chemistry, but anything more between us would complicate things.”
“In what ways?”
“Alex wouldn’t understand. Not to mention Paul’s parents.”
“What about what MaKayla wants?”
A loaded question she didn’t know how to answer. She wanted what she couldn’t have—not to be alone, the noises in her backyard to go away, a husband to spoil, and another child to mother.
“It doesn’t matter what I want. What matters is doing the right thing.”
“For who?”
“For everyone.”
“Even if it means being unhappy? When was the last time you did something for MaKayla without worrying about consequences?” He rolled his tongue and smiled.
“There was liquor involved. Otherwise, I never would have growled at you.”
“Why not?”
She shrugged. “Because it’s inappropriate.”
“A tease?”
“Yes.” He cupped her cheeks between his palms. “I find you sexy as hell and I’m going to kiss you. The time to stop me would be right now.”

Now here's the good news! Toni is offering an e-book copy of The Patriot Girl to someone who leaves a comment or question for her (don’t forget to add your email address so she can contact you if you are the winner)
Also, if you follow her 2013 blog tour, and leave comments on the other blogs, you’ll have more chances of winning the grand prize at the end of the year. Visit her blog for more details:

Other links for Toni are:
Twitter: @ToniLCloutier
Linked In:


  1. I feel you have a good attitude toward reviews, Toni. "Love it" reviews make you feel good. Constructive ones help you become a better writer. Deliberately snarky or cruel ones sting but need to be dismissed as serving only the creator.

    We writers open ourselves up twice--once when we pour our hearts and souls onto the page, and once when we receive the reviews. We deserve medals for bravery!

  2. I honestly don't usually write reviews, although I do read them. I do, however, make sure to contact the writer and let them know how much I enjoyed their story. I prefer the personal to the more generic. But that's just me. Great outlook, though!

  3. After hours of being hunched over a computer crafting the best story imaginable, what author doesn't love to get good reviews? I'm raising both hands. Snarky reviews used to bother me, but hey, there's a lot of unhappy people in this world, and if it makes them happy to give my book a bad review, then I've at least made their day.

  4. Ana, love the medal idea! Your comment is a perfect example as to why writers should write...because it's what they love. What most folks might not realize is that there is a lot more bad in this business than good (rejection and frustrating hours of revisions). So we do it and deal with the bad to enjoy the good when it does come. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

  5. Jen, thanks for stopping by. Yes, a personal note is always more special. And I'm sure the author posted it or commented about it on every social media there is. It makes her/his day!

  6. it! But make sure you ALWAYS comment back with a THANK YOU because they did take the time to write that snarky remark. And if they see a thank you, it might not make them feel as good as they'd hoped.

  7. I'd like to THANK Paula for having me today! This topic has been a nice change from the interviews I've been doing for this Blog Tour.

  8. Hi Toni,

    Reviews can be tricky, can't they? A good one has me dancing on air for days, the ones that are not so good I just kind of delete and ignore. It's impossible to please everyone, and everyone has their own taste.

    I find review snippets useful for web-sites, bookmarks, and 'brag' pages in subsequent books. Of course, I only use the good ones!

    Thanks for visiting today!

  9. It's great to have you here today, Toni. As you say, you can sometimes learn things from reviews that are constructive (and not destructive)criticism. I'm relieved that I've not had any snarky reviews (yet!) but I think Debra's right that you delete and ignore them if they are obviously nasty, rather than offering genuine criticism.

  10. You're right, Deb, we can't please everyone. Keeping that in mind should you get a bad reviews helps to ease that sting.

  11. Oops...Deb, thanks for posting!

  12. Paula, what happened to the wise old saying, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."? With all of the social media, people really should learn to live by this. :)

  13. Toni, you're right, but unfortunately the trolls who post snarky and nasty reviews seem to find some pleasure in doing so. Sad people!

  14. I have learned to be the proverbial duck, letting water roll off my back. If a review isn't great, I try to take the constructive aspects of the review and go from there. If it's good, I post it everywhere I can. Fortunately, I haven't had terrible reviews.

  15. Viola, thanks for stopping by. Sooo glad you haven't had a negative review.

  16. Thanks so much for having me yesterday. Congrats to Jennifer Wilck. She is the winner of a ecopy of The Patriot Girl! I will contact her privately.