Saturday, 23 September 2017

Oh, For the Love of Reviews!

A few weeks ago, we published a blog post about the value of reviews to both readers and authors. The post received a large number of views, so given the apparent interest, we decided to ask our own authors what they gain from reading reviews of their books. The response was so interesting, we are now presenting the first in a series of blog posts from our authors giving us their reactions to their readers' opinions

Our first post is from Stephanie Parker McKean:

Every author loves reviews, especially 5-star reviews, but if they are honest – all reviews are valuable. Of course, all authors wish that all their reviews would read like one posted for the first Texas Miz Mike mystery-romance Bridge to Nowhere. “This only allows you to give five stars, but I would give it 100 if I could!” You can imagine how good that made me feel!

Stephanie Parker McKean at
a real life 'Spanish tile', the Three Prongs
restaurant featured in her books

Sadly for the author (me, in this case), not all reviews are complimentary. While reviews for Bridge to Nowhere, and the second Miz Mike, Bridge Beyond Betrayal, have received four or five-stars – I got saddled with a one-star review on another book. Some of the criticism seemed senseless, but after reading it, I accepted part of it as constructive criticism and changed the Amazon blurb.


Another (positive) review that I found helpful was one for Bridge Beyond Betrayal, which stated that the reviewer was in love with imaginary Three Prongs, Texas, and its just as imaginary zany characters and wanted to read more about them. Since the Miz Mike series had moved from Texas to Scotland, that review inspired me to bring Miz Mike back home in Bridge to Texas.

Scenes from Bandera, Texas, the inspiration for Three Prongs
Here are a few extracts from some of the reviews I've received. I've picked them because they've helped me appreciate that for some people at least, I've achieved some of my writing goals.

One goal was to write humorous books with memorable characters as imperfect and complex as real people. “What a fun and funny mystery adventure. The cast of characters is unique, each rich and strong, and the story flows at a fast pace. I love a book that makes me smile.” Bridge to Nowhere

“How to describe Miz Mike? She is not young, not the perfect weight. She is capable of great bravery, but also often makes misjudgments. Her imperfections and warm heart make her seem believable. By the end of the book I really cared for her.” Bridge to Nowhere

It was also important to me to share my Christian faith without preaching. “Jesus is quite a personal friend to Miz Mike, and while I’m not a practicing Christian, this was not a problem. It fits Miz Mike’s character perfectly.” Bridge to Nowhere.

For those out there who have read and enjoyed a book but never written a review, please do. Reviews need not be long. Consider these two, both for Bridge to Nowhere. “I loved the character Miz Mike and can’t wait to see what she’s up to in Book Two.”
“Stephanie Parker McKean tells a good story while bringing along an inspirational message.”

When an author writes a series, he or she wants each book to be as compelling as the first. Boring, dragging, or disappointing is simply not an option. Therefore, I was delighted and humbled to find good reviews for the second Texas Miz Mike mystery, Bridge Beyond Betrayal.
“A protagonist who is flawed, emotional, funny, and human.”
“This author’s Miz Mike stories have a unique voice and are full of laugh-out-loud dialogue and wit.”
“The author does a wonderful job of lacing her mystery with healthy doses of humor and interesting, quirky characters. I found myself laughing out loud.”
“I liked it there were no swear words and no sexual scenes, things that ruin a book for me.”
“Grabbing a Miz Mike adventure is more than fun. It’s like sitting down with your best friend, who although off her rocker, you still love.”

Okay, all of these were complimentary and to be sure, I like that more than anything negative, but I do find the reviews help me to gauge whether I am going in the right direction with my books. So to readers, I would urge – please leave a review when you finish a book (especially if you have something constructive to say).

To authors, if you ever feel as if writing a book is not worth the physical and emotional slogging – go back and read your book’s good reviews and be encouraged and empowered.

And for authors who have received a bad review,  remember that sometimes this can be a positive indicator for a different reader. So as Miz Mike would say, “Keep on keeping on. Make that rodeo an eight-second ride.”

Thank you very much Stephanie.  An inspiring post for both readers and authors!

Click on the titles here for the links Stephanie Parker Mckean's Bridge to Nowhere and Bridge Beyond Betrayal

1 comment:

Vallypee said...

Very encouraging, Stephanie. A great post!