Posted On January 18, 2012 by Print This Post

Reader Reviews and What Not To Do, by Wendy S. Marcus

Happy Wednesday, RU! I’m very pleased to welcome Wendy S. Marcus back to Romance University. When we last chatted with Wendy, she was reveling in the moment of her debut release. Seven months later, Wendy rejoins us to share her experiences with reader reviews. Please be sure to leave a comment–Wendy’s generously giving away two copies of her latest release, ONCE A GOOD GIRL.

The class is yours, Wendy!

Hello RU Crew! Thank you for having me here today to discuss Reviews and What Not to Do.

I remember my days as a pre-published writer, compulsively checking my e-mail and regular mailboxes for contest results and editor/agent replies, desperate for feedback on my writing, for validation. Am I good enough? Will they like my story? I remember sitting in my quiet office reading what others had to say about my writing and thinking: Wow! That’s harsh.

Fast track a year and a half later. I’m a published author – still looking for feedback on my writing, for validation. Am I good enough? Will they like my story? Only now I don’t have to stalk my mailboxes and wait to find out what people think about my books.

I can go looking. And look I do! On Amazon. Barnes and Noble. Goodreads. I can (and do) search my name and the title of my book on the Internet to find blogs and websites where my books have been mentioned.

(Imagine a skull and cross bones here.) WARNING. When you search out reviews of your books, you’d better damn well be prepared for what people have to say. In a public forum. For all to see. And newsflash: Not everyone is going to like the story of your heart, the one you spent hours and hours of time at the computer, away from family and friends, to create. And let me tell you…You think contest judges and editors can be harsh? Just wait.

I am very lucky to have received mostly wonderful reviews of the two books I’ve published with Harlequin Mills and Boon. However, like any seasoned author will tell you (in addition to telling you to avoid reading reviews!) it’s the negative ones that will stick out in your mind.

For the purposes of this post, as a learning experience to all of you (a what NOT to do sort of lesson) I will share my worst review ever and how I handled it.

Picture this: I’m basking in first release new authorness, drinking in everyone’s congratulations. I’m interviewed in magazines and on blogs. My book has finally reached the masses and they LOVE it! Four and five star reviews are popping up all over the Internet. I’m linking them to my website, blog, Facebook, and Twitter to create buzz about my book. I am living on a cloud much higher than nine – maybe twenty-five. Or the penthouse cloud. Each positive review fuels me to search out more. Validation. I deserve to be among my fellow authors. My book is a success! I am a success.

Then WHACK! (Imagine a HUGE reality slap to the cheek here.) I come across this one star review:

JFC. This wasn’t at all enjoyable. It took me almost three days to read less than two hundred pages!

The hero could be a bit of a jerk, and him keeping secrets wasn’t a particularly smart move but god, the heroine!

She was an immature brat. She was completely bipolar in her emotions and decisions. She’s say or think one thing and then do completely the opposite. She blamed everyone else for her actions, and there was not one stage where she didn’t act like a child. All that was missing was for her to stamp her foot and say ‘NO!’.

I could go into detail about certain events, but I honestly couldn’t be bothered. She was one of the worst heroines I’ve ever come across. Not to mention that when she fell pregnant her behaviour just escalated to completely stupid and moronic. If I was a character in this novel I would be slapping her round the face and telling her to grow the fuck up and move on and stop comparing herself and every man in her life to her parents.

This was a terrible novel. Apart from the unlikeable characters, the author threw around medical terms, some without explanation, and some with, and it felt like she was staring down her nose at readers (not literally of course). But she wrote in such a way that reader’s felt completely belittled, and as if they should be ashamed because they haven’t be a nurse/doctor/whatever for X amount of years.

Avoid this book and this author like the plague. I wish I could UN-read this. 1/5.

Now I’m not naïve. I know not everyone will like my book. (Even though deep down inside I wish they would!) But do people have to dislike it so meanly and hurtfully. And publicly?

Thanks to the Internet, readers have been given a forum to voice their likes and dislikes. And if you want to be a published author, you’d better be prepared for it….at least better than I was!

So. On to what not to do….basically, don’t do what I did.

Prim Victoria Forley’s perfect life changed forever the night she slept with Kyle Karlinsky, baddest boy in town. These days, single mum and uber-perfectionist nurse Victoria has goals that nothing – not even Kyle’s shocking reappearance! – can derail. But behind Victoria’s oh-so-frosty exterior is a heat that only Kyle can unleash… maybe it’s the right time to be with the wrong guy after all?

First, I internalized this review and took it personally. I cried. A lot. I e-mailed it to my sister – my biggest most supportive fan – who did a negative review of her own (of the reviewer.) But I digress. I was so upset she didn’t like my book I considered posting a comment offering to refund what she’d paid for it. Thankfully, the businesswoman in me quickly shutdown that idea! (Don’t want to set a precedent that will have bad reviews popping up all over so people could request their money back from me!)

Then I got insulted and angry. How dare the reviewer say such horrible things? I’m a nice person. I worked really hard on that book. I went back to read the review again. And wouldn’t you know? Hands shaking with outrage, instead of clicking the read more button so I could see it in its entirety, I clicked the LIKE button. Holy crap! Now this evil (in my opinion) reviewer was going to get an e-mail that I, the author she hated, liked her review. I unliked it. But the damage was done. She’d know I’d seen it.

Then I reported the review. And I e-mailed some friends to report it as well. But the site refused to take it down. (Note: It is very difficult to get a review taken down and basically amounts to wasted time and energy.)

So I took to Twitter! (You’re sitting there shaking your heads in disbelief, right?) At the time it seemed the logical progression. Although looking back, I’d been anything but logical. Of course my friends and fans came out in full force to support me and protect me. And it made me feel better. But it also gave this negative review much more attention than it would have gotten if I’d simply ignored it. (Kind of like posting it here! But here I’m using it as a learning tool.)

You want to be an author? Be prepared for public reviews like the one above. You think you won’t get one? Every. Single. Author. Does. Even if you’re lucky enough to never stumble across it.

The most important lesson of bad reviews: Do not engage the reviewer. (At least I remembered that!!!)

Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

* * *

Two lucky commenters will win a copy of my latest Harlequin Medical Romance, Once a Good Girl… Available in paperback from and in e-book from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

To learn more about me, to read an excerpt, or to see some of my good reviews (to counteract the bad one I shared), visit my website:

Find me on:     Facebook         Twitter        Goodreads


Are you a published author? Have you received any bad reviews? How did you handle them? As a reader, how do you feel when you see a bad review up on the Internet? Have you ever written a bad review? Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of ONCE A GOOD GIRL.

Be sure to stop back on Friday for Theresa Stevens post on line editing.



Wendy S. Marcus lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley region of New York with her husband, two of their three children, and a much loved Bichon Frise named Buddy. A nurse by trade, Wendy has her master’s degree in health care administration. After years of working in the medical profession, Wendy has taken a radical turn to writing hot contemporary romance with strong heroes, feisty heroines, and lots of laughs. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and blogging/e-mailing/tweeting with her online friends. To learn more about Wendy visit her website,

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73 Responses to “Reader Reviews and What Not To Do, by Wendy S. Marcus”

  1. Oh, Wendy! I was laughing and crying at the same time! – I’m so sorry you had a bad review and I’m so pleased (and amazed!) you took the trouble to repeat it, word for crushing word, as a lesson to us all. I hope you find much better reviews in the future…if you’re brave enough to go looking again?!

    Posted by Alison | January 18, 2012, 2:26 am
    • Hi Alison!
      The words of that review were sure crushing the first few times I read tham. But I’m over it now. I’d like to point out here – with my first comment – that most of the reviews I received for my first book, When One Night Isn’t Enough, were 4 and 5 stars with wonderful, very positive, narrative. The risk with sharing a bad review is people will focus on that and think I stink as an author. I hope you’ll take the time to check out some of my good reviews on my website!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | January 18, 2012, 7:43 am
  2. Wendy, thank you for joining us again at RU! Reviews and ratings–I’m kinda terrified by how I might react to both of these. I keep thinking I won’t “go there.” But my dear friend Adrienne assures me I will. 🙂

    So sorry about the nasty review. Such a hard thing to read. I will keep your good counsel in mind.

    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | January 18, 2012, 5:34 am
  3. Hi Wendy,

    Any time we stand up to be judged, someone is waiting to knock us down. Remember school and being graded all the time. Don’t miss it. I’m lucky to have had positive reviews. I’ve received star ratings with no explanation. Those make me wonder.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | January 18, 2012, 7:08 am
  4. Morning Wendy!!!!

    How wonderful to have you back again. I seriously want to go slap that reviewer upside the head myself.

    I’ve always believed the anonymity of the internet causes people to behave and and do things they’d NEVER do face to face. If this man/woman were standing in front of you at a book signing? I bet they’d never say word one.

    Thanks for being brave enough to share with us….


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | January 18, 2012, 8:13 am
    • Hi Carrie!
      Thank you for your outrage on my behalf!!! I agree that the anonymity of the Internet makes people do things they’d never do face to face. In the case of the review I included in my post, the reviewer didn’t review under her real name just some random title. On the Internet I’m Wendy S. Marcus. Right or wrong, I own (as in take responsibility for) the content I put out there.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | January 18, 2012, 8:53 am
  5. Recently one of my favorite Harlequin authors received a really bad review. But it seemed everyone who commented jumped on the bandwagon and they didn’t trash the book – they trashed the author as a person. I was so outraged on her behalf (I’ve met her and she is so nice) that I commented. And afterwards I thought ‘oh crap, what if they say nasty stuff to me?’ Luckily that didn’t happen – another person agreed with me. But I know one thing – I too will not comment on a bad review. So even though I wasn’t the author, I realized I should have left the bad alone.
    To me – if you don’t like a book either do two things – keep your mouth shut or at least don’t be so hateful, there are other words to choose from in the dictionary.

    Posted by Marcie R | January 18, 2012, 8:27 am
    • Hi Marcie R!
      You know, I saw the exact same thing while searching out a book from a NYT bestseller. It was as if one person posted something negative and it empowered others to follow her lead. I felt horrible for the author, although I doubt she even saw it. But I also felt anger at how rude the reviewers became. It says a lot about a person…

      And I’d be scared about taking on any negative reviewers, too! I’ve heard instances where that did not turn out well. You were lucky!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | January 18, 2012, 8:58 am
  6. Wendy,

    In any course one chooses in life, one can expect to be judged.
    In the end, if you can look in the mirror, or lay down your head at the end of the day and say “I gave it my all and I did my best today”, then you are miles ahead of the rest of the pack.
    Courage, and never-give-up will triumph every time.

    Thank you for sharing, and for being brave enough to admit what you might have done “wrong”.

    Good lessons for everyone!

    Posted by Marisa Gee | January 18, 2012, 8:32 am
    • Hi Marisa!
      Amen! I agree wholeheartedly! In the end, with regard to reviews, the only thing I can control is how I respond to them. And since my poor handling of my first negative review… I’m happy to say I’ve done much better. Although, to be honest, the bad review I posted is the only one I’ve ever come across. (And yes…I do still scan certain sites to see what people are saying. It’s an addiction…really!)

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | January 18, 2012, 9:04 am
  7. Hi Wendy, What a story! My first book had great reviews until a major reviewer suggested I take a writing class. As an actor, I was accustomed to rejection but that really stung. Ah well. Since then, I’ve found a niche, developed a following and life moves on. Reviews find you, I don’t have time to look for them.
    Older and wiser in the Hudson Valley.
    Best with love.
    Charmaine Gordon

    Posted by charmaine gordon | January 18, 2012, 8:39 am
  8. Hi Wendy!
    As a published author, of course I’ve received unkind reviews, but I have to admit the ones that bother me the most are the tepid oness. These are the reviews I wonder how I’ve fallen down on the job to not reach a person on any level. I try! Lord knows I try!

    Sorry you had a bad experience. Amazon is an easy place to blast someone’s book and many do. At least we have the recourse to click “unhelpful” beside that review.

    Posted by Lynne Marshall | January 18, 2012, 9:50 am
    • Hi Lynne!
      So far I can’t say I’ve received any tepid reviews – other than 3 stars with no comments. And I totally understand about feeling like you’ve fallen down on the job. We write for readers to enjoy the stories we tell. To entertain. And when readers don’t, it’s easy to internalize that it’s because we didn’t dig deep enough or write well enough. But like Marisa Gee said, all we can do is take comfort in the fact we gave it our all and did the best we could do.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | January 18, 2012, 10:54 am
  9. I survived grad school for creative writing. One star reviews got NUTTIN on being told to your face by your professer(s) that you don’t belong in a program for real writers and they’re not renewing your TA-ship because they want to give it to somebody who can actually write :). I have no idea why I stuck around after that to finish my degree, but I did…

    I now have an MFA in poetry I don’t use and a hide like a rhino that is very very handy!

    Posted by Jody W. | January 18, 2012, 10:01 am
    • Hi Jody!
      At least something good came out of all that! (A hide like a rhino!)

      I took a college course on writing popular fiction and we had to go around the room and read our assignments and then the class critiqued them. Out loud. And might I add, it was the ones with the most difficult to like assignments (who everyone codled and encouraged) who were the meanest!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | January 18, 2012, 11:08 am
  10. Hi Wendy!

    Unfortunately, negative reviews are a part of the landscape in the Internet Age. The Internet provides a convenient cloak of anonymity.

    I’m amazed at nasty reviews I’ve seen. What upsets me the most is the mob mentality a negative review incites and how some people use the review process as a platform to vent.

    I think I can safely say that we’ve all read our share of crappy books. And while I’ve been tempted to post a negative review, I won’t because I believe in karma.

    I’d rather spend my time writing a positive review. Much more satisfying.

    Thanks for joining us again!

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | January 18, 2012, 10:04 am
    • Hi Jennifer!
      The mob mentality is a perfect way to sum it up! And my mom taught me: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything. I do my best to live by those words. And I find writing a positive review much more satisfying, too!

      Other words to live by: Praise in public. Criticize in private.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | January 18, 2012, 11:12 am
  11. Wendy, you handled it well. At first, I’m thinking, “She read this more than once?” But then, given the harshness, I realized it would take more than one reading to get through it.

    But now that you have, and you’ve moved beyond the hurt, anger and disappointment, perhaps it would help to check the number of stars, hearts or whatever rating system is used first. Then, don’t read the really low end ones, no matter how tempting.

    I do reviews. I have never trashed an author in a review and never will. I have had reviews that were largely critical of the work, but I always try to balance the criticism, some positive comments and some not so much negative as explaining why it didn’t work for me. And if I find it hard to do that, I will either not review the book or email the author privately to explain why I can’t review the book.

    It’s okay for people not to like the book. I don’t like everything I read. Some stories just aren’t for me. Sometimes, I find I’m in the wrong headspace based on things that have nothing to do with the author or the book, and I have to put it aside in order to enjoy it later. Forcing a read will result in a negative perception of the work.

    Posted by PatriciaW | January 18, 2012, 10:18 am
  12. Hi Wendy – I think a writer’s need for feedback is universal, and sometimes a real killer. I entered a lot of contests when I first started writing fiction, and while some of the judge’s comments were encouraging, others threw me deep into a well of Imposter Syndrome.

    On the other hand, I did learn from those comments – eventually. Once I could look at them objectively, I was able to pull the useful criticism from their comments and use it to improve the story(ies).

    I’ve also developed a somewhat thick skin in one sense. I DO write in a strong voice and my stories are always a little weird. In contests I almost always get a range of extremely high scores from those who love my voice, balanced by extremely low scores from those who hate it. I can’t change it, so I have to accept it.

    I’m not published in fiction, but I’m multi-published in non-fiction. When my garden books came out, I never thought to look at reviews for a long time. When I finally looked, I was shocked to find one by my daughter, who was 15 when she posted it. I was embarrassed at the time, but now I think it’s really sweet!

    Posted by Becke Davis (Becke Martin) | January 18, 2012, 10:47 am
    • Hi Becke!
      I think looking at reviews objectively is the key. What makes it so hard it that writing is personal – at least for me. I pour my heart into my writing, and when someone doesn’t like it, it hurts. But I’m working on that tough rhino skin Jodi has!

      I loved your daughter’s review!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | January 18, 2012, 11:24 am
  13. Wow, I found this really offensive… to readers. Under what grounds did you expect the review should have been removed? I’m so glad they didn’t remove it. What kind of ridiculous review system would we have if a reader wasn’t allowed to call a heroine stupid or a story boring? And the worst part of this post is that I don’t get the feeling that the author has learned her lesson. All she said about it was that it was hard to get it removed and wasted a lot of time. How about the fact that was morally wrong to do anything to try to censor this person, including having her sister attack the reviewer for her opinion!?

    Posted by Amber | January 18, 2012, 10:56 am
    • Wendy posted this as a cautionary tale, sharing an embarrassing story so we can learn from it. As she said:

      “On to what not to do….basically, don’t do what I did.”

      Note her comment: “Everyone is entitled to their opinion.”

      Posted by Becke Davis (Becke Martin) | January 18, 2012, 11:02 am
      • If you want to trade quotes, how about this one:

        “Then I reported the review. And I e-mailed some friends to report it as well. But the site refused to take it down. (Note: It is very difficult to get a review taken down and basically amounts to wasted time and energy.)”

        This shows no remorse for her attempts to censor a personal opinion in a public forum, but instead says that her efforts to do so failed, and that it turned out to be a waste of time. If it had worked, I have no doubt she would have done so again, and that’s what I found disturbing.

        Posted by Amber | January 18, 2012, 1:48 pm
        • Again…sorry this post seems to have upset you so. I intended to share how I responded to a negative review as an example of teaching others what not to do.

          Am I proud of myself that I tried to have the review removed? No. But at the time I did what I felt compelled to do based on the fact I felt the review attacked me personally. And just as the reviewer – and you – have freedom of speech, so do I.

          Would I do it again? No. Because negative people aren’t worth my time. Lesson learned!

          Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | January 18, 2012, 3:34 pm
    • I got that impression too — that the OP has concluded that behaving like this, responding to negative reviews, asking them to be downgraded or removed, is the opposite of a good idea :). Considering all the flailing going on in the blogosphere right now about bad reviews and people’s reactions to them and people’s reactions to people’s reactions to the bad reviews, it’s an interesting perspective to see an author who has confessed to having done some review bashing and is recommending others not repeat her mistake.

      Posted by Jody W. | January 18, 2012, 11:07 am
    • Hi Amber!
      Sorry to have hit a nerve! I took issue with the review because I felt the last paragraph was an attack against me personally and that the reviewer spoke on behalf of readers – plural – and not just herself. But the site didn’t take it down, and I’m over it. Lesson learned.

      As far as my sister’s negative review of the reviewer, it took place over the telephone. In a private conversation meant to support me and console me. I apologize if that wasn’t clear. My sister and I are NOT in the habit of posting negatively or attacking people on the Internet. (Or anywhere for that matter!)

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | January 18, 2012, 11:43 am
      • Oh, I definitely misread that and thought there was an actual comment placed on her review.

        My concern is over what lesson was learned: that attempting to censor a reviewer is a waste of time or that it’s the wrong thing to do. My hope is that, as writers, we would have very strict views tat censorship is NOT okay, so that’s why I found it disturbing to hear a published author try to do so.

        Posted by Amber | January 18, 2012, 1:52 pm
  14. Oh, my friend! You got dissed bad! And, gang, I’ve read the book the reviewer trashed and I gave it 5 stars. I didn’t do it because Wendy is my friend either. I did it because the book was a wonderfully fun weekend read.

    Wendy, you are so right about getting prepared. I’ve stopped reading the reviews. I know I have lightning rods in my books and I know those lightning rods might cause people to give me a bad review. It’s the chance we take as authors.

    Thankfully, the majority of the reviews have been great, but there are people out there who are haters and me reading their personal attacks won’t make me a better writer. If the review is thought out and makes valid points, well, I can learn from that. Otherwise, it’s negative energy that will do nothing for me.

    I read an article once about Derek Jeter of the NY Yankees. He said a fan walked up to him in a store once and told him he “sucked.” Derek turned around and asked the guy how he would feel if he (Derek) walked into his place of employment and told him his work sucked. I loved that! Sort of brings it all into perspective.

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | January 18, 2012, 11:07 am
    • Hi Adrienne!
      I heard about that situation with Derek Jeter. He’s a great guy – in addition to being easy on the eyes! (And I’m a Mets fan!!!)

      I love chatting with you because we’ve been going through this new author bit at pretty much the same time. I think you’re a few steps ahead of me on the reading reviews and author sales rankings stuff. But I’m catching up quick!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | January 18, 2012, 11:47 am
  15. I am bracing myself! 🙂 Logically I know not everyone will like my heroine and/or my hero. They might think she is a complete ass for doing what she did. Now emotionally? I need your phone number so I can call and cry when I get that first “Don’t read this book!” review. 🙂

    I do remember so AWFUL contest comments on entries than went on to win other contest (entries that hadn’t been changed!)

    It’s all a crapshoot, isn’t it?

    Posted by Cynthia D'Alba (AKA ArkansasCyndi) | January 18, 2012, 12:20 pm
    • Hi Cynthia!
      If you need to, e-mail me. I’m totally serious. I’ll help you through! And you make a good point about judges judging contests differently. Readers see things differently, too.

      All we can do is the best we can do!

      Thanks for stopping by! And can’t wait to read your book!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | January 18, 2012, 2:23 pm
  16. Wendy, thanks for sharing!

    Before my first book came out, a bigtime author friend told me not to read reviews of my book. The good ones make you feel you’re better than you are and the bad ones make you feel you’re worse than you are. So I never got into the habit from the start. *grabs Tracey by the shoulders and gives a little shake* 😉

    I firmly believe that reviews are for readers, not for authors, so I, as an author, stay out of reader sandboxes. I want people to feel free to love/hate my books without worrying that I’ll weigh in. In fact, they can say what they want because I’ll probably never see it. (My husband will tell me that people seem to be liking my last book, my assistant reads blog reviews for good soundbites, and I may hear when a big outlet has something to say, but that’s it.)

    Readers can come to my playground and tell me (I’m everywhere and easy to find), and I’m so very grateful, but I won’t go to their playground unless I’m invited (chats, blog visits, GR discussions, etc.) As a reader on Shelfari (I never did Goodreads before I was published), I would’ve been mortified if an author commented on any of my reviews. Positive or negative. I would’ve forever been looking over my shoulder, wondering if I’d hurt someone’s feelings and then feeling hamstrung because I wasn’t comfortable saying my opinion if I didn’t like the book. Or been completely pissed off that they attacked me for not liking it.

    And the same goes for liking/unliking a review. As an author, I’m not comfortable with that either. I know why people do it – something about the Amazon search algorithms – but it doesn’t feel right for me, the author, to do it for my own books. I do ‘like’ my own books on Amazon and BN, though. 🙂

    Some people may disagree with me, but reviews are not for the author to learn from. Have you ever read manuscript/contest entries that you know have been workshopped to death? The writing might be stellar but the life is gone because the writer tried to please everyone. I prefer to get my feedback from my critique partner, beta readers, editor and agent, then let the chips fall where they may.

    So, Tracey, I’d recommend staying strong. Let readers think and say what they want without it affecting you personally. If you’re sensitive like me, just don’t read them. Writing is hard enough.

    Posted by Laurie London | January 18, 2012, 12:38 pm
  17. My stomach got twisted reading your post. As I was reading, I kept thinking, “Don’t go there, don’t respond to that negative review–don’t feed her!” Then I saw where you accidentally clicked on ‘like’ instead of ‘more’ and I had to laugh. Sounds like something I would do. Bullies like to hide behind a screen of some kind,and the internet, where one can post behind odd names, is a perfect place for bullies. Book review sites seem to attract them like moths to a flame. I have read some on Amazon when I’m looking for books to buy, but have moved more and more away from doing so because I don’t like the bullying and mob mentality. Great post and good luck! Your story made me buy your book…I figure that’s the best way of erasing the bully.

    Posted by kathleen | January 18, 2012, 12:52 pm
  18. The first negative review I read of my book took issue with my hero. My daughter was reading the review over my shoulder and said, “How could she hate him? He’s hot AND a good guy.”

    I told my daughter what I tell myself, “It’s her opinion and it’s as valid as anyone else’s. At least the book made her feel something. It would be worse if she just didn’t care.”

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Wendy! You rock!

    Posted by Julie Rowe | January 18, 2012, 1:35 pm
    • Hi Julie!
      I have your book on my Kindle. Once I finish my revisions I can’t wait to read it!

      Now that I’ve gone through that horrible ‘first terrible review sighting’ I am much more rational about it and hope to handle it better next time – should I stumble upon one, because I am no longer going looking!

      Thanks for stopping by! And I think you rock, too!!!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | January 18, 2012, 2:33 pm
  19. Maybe it’s because I’m removed from the sting of this negative review because I’m not Wendy :-), but if you discount some of the emotionally charged verbiage, she told me exactly why *I* would love this book.

    1. Hero is a jerk. (I love alpha, kind of jerky heroes. They fall harder.)

    2. Heroine is emotional. (Me too. I can relate to her. Besides, none of her examples made me think the heroine would irritate me.)

    3. Lots of medical jargon. (The author must be an expert – I know you are, Wendy, but if I didn’t, this is what I’d assume. I love reading genre fiction written by people who know what they’re writing about because it feels so authentic.)

    4. Reader felt belittled because she needed more explanations to understand it. (I read a lot of PNR. You go with the flow and love learning the rules of the world as you read. We DON’T want things spelled out for us. Figuring it out is part of the fun.)

    The only people a review like this will affect are readers who like/get irritated by the same things she does. I know from her review that her tastes and my tastes are vastly different.

    Her dislikes are my likes. 🙂 *buy*

    Posted by Laurie London | January 18, 2012, 2:04 pm
  20. Hi Wendy,

    I’m a reader first and foremost and then a reviewer. If I don’t like a book(believe me, some are narratives only with no medical action in medical romances) I say what didn’t work for me.

    Then I have to refuse some authors when they send me their self-pubbed with past and present tense mixed and I even had to refuse to review (nicely!) one book which started with the heroine shooting drugs…lol I don’t need the lesson on the exact procedure and I believe the readers don’t need it as well. So there are all types of writers/authors out there to cater to all type of readers.

    If you as a reader don’t like an author’s style then in my mind this is simple- don’t read her books! I’m not a prude, I read erotic books but I don’t like to review them as I don’t believe I can do justice on that subject.

    As I’m aware of the guidelines of
    M&B lines, I’m comfortable reviewing these!

    I loved your second book ONCE A GOOD GIRL as I believe you pushed the boundaries a bit with the guidelines of M&B Medical line.

    What with you mentioning silks, bonds, and some other um…ah…toys!

    Posted by Nas | January 18, 2012, 3:12 pm
    • Hi Nas!
      Always a pleasure to “see” you! I like that you review a book in your own name and you stand behind your reviews. You always manage to find good, even if you didn’t love a book. I respect that!

      And I’m so happy you enjoyed both of my books!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | January 18, 2012, 3:57 pm
  21. Wendy –

    So happy to have you back at RU!

    Thanks for being so candid about the good, bad and ugly of reading reviews of your work. I can imagine it’s like a train wreck: You know you should look away, but can’t seem to force yourself to do so.

    I’ve been reading some about “tribes” lately, and that to be a successful businessperson (which authors are :)), you need to not only accept, but actually embrace that not everyone is in your tribe. If everyone liked your work or sought it out, that would make you commonplace, a commodity, rather than a unique artist offering your unique talent and perspective.

    Be proud some folks don’t love your work. As Laurie said above, that just means other people WILL love it.


    Posted by Kelsey Browning | January 18, 2012, 3:54 pm
    • Hi Kels!
      Well said! Similar to what Lynne Marshall said above, you want to evoke emotion in the reader. I guess good or bad. (But still…I’d prefer the good!)

      And no way I want to be commonplace! (Thank you for pointing that out!)

      And thanks for stopping by!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | January 18, 2012, 4:00 pm
  22. hi….

    Great book review….

    Posted by Fazilat Kahn | January 18, 2012, 8:05 pm
  23. Thank you all for coming out to visit me today!

    The winners of the book give away – as chosen by are:

    #1 Alison
    #6 Marcie R

    Please e-mail me at wendy @ WendySMarcus . com (no spaces) with your mailing addresses and I will mail a copy of Once a Good Girl… to you ASAP!

    Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | January 18, 2012, 8:20 pm
  24. Hi Wendy – Thanks for using your experience as an example. If – no, when 🙂 I get to the point I have a review I will be sure to remember this!

    Posted by Tara Stearns | January 18, 2012, 8:30 pm
  25. Wendy, thanks so much for joining us today! Such a great conversation and sage advice.

    Congrats to Alison and Marcie on your giveaway!

    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | January 18, 2012, 9:21 pm
  26. Oh, Wendy! I’m so sorry this happened to you! It does happen to all of us. Unfortunately there is really not much we can do. My best advice is to NOT read them and NOT engage in the reviewer~I know it is hard to do, but it does nothing but question our writing and our talent and hinders our creativity. Plus it’s like poison for your soul. AND just think how hard it was to get published! You have something great!!

    Posted by Tonya Kappes | January 19, 2012, 5:43 am
  27. I am late to the party – so mad I missed this posting yesterday! Thank you SO much for sharing your experience, Wendy. As authors, we have mostly all gone through this, but I love to hear different opinions on how it’s handled and who avoids reviews. I just got a stinger on my short story that has been getting great reviews. The review said I was a horrible person for even writing about dog abuse – but that’s what the story is about! Ouch. I’m getting tougher though, and taking the bad with the good and moving on. Great post!!

    Posted by Jenifer Probst | January 19, 2012, 7:31 am
    • Hi Jen!
      Better late than never!

      Yeah, those stingers are a downer. Better to focus on all the great reviews you’ve received. I know, easier said than done. For me, too. Which is why I will now follow conventional wisdom and not read reviews of my books anymore.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | January 19, 2012, 9:48 am
  28. oh Wow! Thanks Wendy!

    Posted by Marcie R | January 19, 2012, 8:09 am
  29. Oh, Wendy, I feel your pain. My debut just released this month and I so went through that same kind of thing. I think it’s a right of passage. Those kinds of reviews are hard not to take personally. I wrote a full email to one reader/reviewer (which I promptly deleted and never sent) but that knee jerk reaction was there. Even when I knew better. (You may appreciate my blog post today by the way on the 5 emotional stages of launching a book because I touched on this too.)

    But after these few weeks of learning, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I just need to not search out reviews and to not read the 1-2 star ones. Yes, I should have elephant skin. Yes, I should put on my big girl panties. But I can’t help the person I am and I’m the kind of person who gets hurt by mean comments and lets it affect my mood. I don’t need any of that negativity tainting my creative process. That’s not the reviewers problem, it’s mine, so I will shield myself as much as I can.

    Posted by Roni Loren | January 25, 2012, 5:14 pm


  1. […] Amazon reviews were terrible. “Achilles is such a whiner. Helen is the most selfish woman of all time. I can’t […]

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