I got a bad review.
To be honest, it’s a proper critique. The reviewer was honest about what worked for her and what didn’t. And it hit me hard because she is a fan of two of my other books.
This review was posted a week later than originally scheduled and in that time I sensed she may not have liked it. Then I told myself I was being paranoid.
Initial reviews of this book have rated it four or five stars.
But there was another review which, while giving it a four star rating, mentioned my main character was hard to engage with. This statement fascinates me because it’s been said before about some of my characters. And when it’s said, it’s always by Americans.
Now, I’m not passing the buck saying there’s nothing wrong with my writing, but I’ve been doing this long enough to see the pattern. And I’ve wondered what it is about my writing which isn’t connecting in the same way with some US readers.
For example, the same disconnection with this character was mentioned by another US reviewer for the prequel to this book. But she was more favourable overall, giving it a good score.
Regardless, there’s still a lot to unpack from this bad review.
The previous stories she liked were more emotional. The protagonists had serious personal issues. These books were Urban Fantasies.
The book she didn’t like is dystopian. Her favourite parts were centred around the love interest but the overall structure didn’t work for her. She goes into great detail in her critique, so I have clear instructions on what not to do.
One of my works in progress is a Space Opera and her review will help shape that novel. The emotional journeys still have to be realised, and the plot has to stay consistent.
Why am I obsessing over one bad review among the good ones?
It’s because I respect her point of view. She knows my work and has critiqued accordingly. I can let her words guide me when I plot my future projects.
And in a publishing world with so many rejections and no feedback, this honest critique is a blessing.