Maybe I'm a weird monkey, but for some reason when I'm checking out a new book to read sometimes it's the negative reviews that decide me and not the positive ones. When I see too many positive reviews that just say, "RAH RAH RAH, SWOON, YAY, AWESOME book" I start to wonder why there's no thoughtful dialogue about the story, the characters, the writing... I mean, we're talking erotica, so yeah, I get that there's swooning and hotness and masturbation involved. And obviously that's "rah rah rah"-worthy and super awesome. Hence, "yay." It's expected. But then there's the actual story, you know ... the plot, the development, the protagonists, the nuance, the feelings all those things combined stir in you, the reader. And, no, I'm not talking about those feelings. I mean, connecting with the story, feeling anger, worry, happiness, suspense, etc. Sometimes the negative reviews talk more about those things than the positive "rah rah rah" reviews.
When I read a review, any review, I try to consider the source. Who is this person and how will that affect their opinion? I'm talking about erotica books here, and since it's me, to be more specific, I'm talking about BDSM, Domestic Discipline, or Dubious Consent/Dark Erotica, all with Alpha Male/Male Dom scenarios. So I run into a lot of reviewers who rate low because they don't understand the dynamic and mistake it for abuse. Or maybe the reviewer has a misguided idea of what feminism means and mistakes the books in this genre as misogynistic. This type of feedback pretty much tells me that the book is most likely right up my alley.
Then there's the constructive negative reviews that provide valuable reader feedback. I'm not much of an author right now, but I've scribbled things here and there. I wrote the sex column for my college paper and always valued feedback from my readers, whether it was positive or negative. It gave me an idea of whether I was reaching my audience and stirring up strong feelings. Whether they be positive or negative, it is very important for a writer. Sometimes, taking a risk and pissing a lot of people off is actually a good thing! I know it's hard to believe, but there it is. All press is good press and if people react strongly, they will talk about your book, which then stirs up more interest and more conversation and more exposure and so on and so forth.
I actually just started a book based on a negative review. It was a constructive review. Just one person's opinion that the realism was lacking, which prevented her from being able to connect to the characters. Okay, that should put me off, right? Right. But I had already seen some praise for the quality of the development of the story and realism and such. So, instead of turning me off, this review made me INSANELY curious. I NEEDED to buy and read said book like right away and find out if she was right. All the positive reviews didn't rev up my interest the same way. Conclusion? Controversy stirs interest.
I know you're all dying to know whether the negative review had it right and if this book sucked hairy monkey balls. You should be very pleased to find out that the reviewer was sorely mistaken, in my view, and I loved the book and probably wouldn't have bought it if this misguided soul hadn't said those awful things about it in her little opinion corner. I tend to write and post my entries out of order, so my review for said book was published a few weeks ago. It'd be fun to see if you can figure out which one it is - feel free to leave a comment with you guess.