The Psychology of the Review

the bookPhew. Launching a book is work, but unlike digging ditches, it’s hard to see exactly what you’ve accomplished.

And so, you look at reviews. There are reviews on Amazon, on Barnes & Noble, on Goodreads, on Christianbooks.com. There are reviews on blogs and as Facebook comments. Oh, there IS feedback.

And there’s finally enough feedback for me to feel confident it’s more than my immediate circle of friends and family posting. Strangers have read my book and are happy to share their opinion.

Now, I’m a pretty confident sort. Sometimes, people who know me might even suggest I’m a little TOO confident. But there’s something funny about reviews. The statistics are happy–lots of good reviews and only a handful that are bad or less than enthusiastic. So I ought to be feeling great, right?

Except. When I read the good reviews I feel good. I think to myself how nice it is that the book spoke to someone out there and gave pleasure. Maybe even communicated a message.

Then I read a bad or mediocre review. And even if I’ve just read five good ones in a row, the feeling I get is along the lines of having been caught in a lie by my mom when I was ten. Uh-oh. I’ve been found out. Someone noticed I can’t write and I use too many adverbs and the pacing is slow in places and–well, I don’t pay any attention when they say it’s too Christian. I was ready for that. But the rest–oh, I’m a fraud.

What is up with that?!?

And yet, I think we all feel like this sometimes. We feel like our flaws are big ole zits on the tips of our noses and the only reason someone hasn’t noticed is because they’re distracted by our new hairstyle or sparkly earrings and just give them a moment, they’ll see.

But here’s the thing. We’re all riddled with flaws. My novel has plenty of flaws. I used the word “somehow” over and over and maybe should have used it once. There are some typos. I could have crafted the story better.

Oh, but wait. God works through weakness. Paul was talking about something much more challenging than writing a novel when he wrote 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. But I think it describes what my attitude ought to be.

But God said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I am so very weak. And all too willing to feel as though my weaknesses define me (you know, because I’m weak). But God likes to show off his muscles by using weak things to do some of his best work. I’m just glad he’s using me.

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About Sarah Thomas

Author, wife, child of God.
This entry was posted in Appalachian, Family, Friends, Reading, Waiting, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to The Psychology of the Review

  1. Becki says:

    I think the “too Christian” comment is interesting. In this book, the characters ARE Christian. It’s an important part of their lives. It would be weird if you DIDN’T mention it. And the way in which it’s mentioned is perfectly natural; it’s woven in. The “Christian fiction” I can’t stand is the stuff in which the “Christian stuff” is gobbed on top, like spackle trying to fill holes in a bad story.

    This book? Is just good storytelling, about people who happen to be Christian, and act like it.

    • Sarah Thomas says:

      I’d seen enough reviews of other author’s Christian books to know we inevitably run into readers who weren’t expecting quite so much God, but I figure that’s a good thing! Thanks for calling MiaDS, good storytelling–that’s high praise, indeed!

  2. mom says:

    I’m glad too, because He is using you so very much in so many ways!

  3. Reblogged this on Amish Fiction Author and commented:
    WOW! I hope I can be this insightful when that time comes for me – someday…

    BRAVO Sarah! Well Said! And THANK YOU for saying what so many of us might be more than a little hesitant to put out there.

    GOD BLESS YOU!

    Oh and I LOVE the book! There may be mistakes but the AWESOMENESS of the story kept me from noticing them!
    Can not wait to read the next one!

  4. Thank you Sarah for writing such a wonderful article AND such a wonderful book! I LOVED every bit of it! GREAT story! GREAT idea! So excited to read the next one!

    I pray God continues to bless you and your writing!

  5. martyomenko says:

    Hey, you did a great job on the book! One thing, remember that poor reviews sell books too! I have bought books before because of poor reviews. I read your book and posted a review yesterday, and one advantage of reading an ARC on a kindle with a lot of errors from it being an Kindle edition, means you give a lot of passes, plus as an aspiring author, I hope I give a lot of grace to authors now! I have a lot of admiration for you following through on your idea and getting your book published!!!

  6. There’s an old saying that it takes seven ‘attaboy’s to make up for one ‘dimwit!’

    Reviews are like that. When I was teaching, one disgruntled (and anonymous) student evaluation would offset the joy I felt in receiving a dozen good ones. I felt so stupid, but it’s just human nature.

    Glad that good reviews are coming in!

  7. I’m dreading the bad reviews, but i know I’ll get them. EVERYONE gets them, yet in the back of my mind, I think I’m above a critical review. HA!

    Don’t let the black dot ruin the beautiful painting.

  8. Congratulations, Sarah! Don’t let any bad reviews get you down: write for an Audience of One, and you’ll be just fine!

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