Everyone’s a Critic

People always say things like I won’t buy a book until it has X amount of reviews because the first reviews are always so positive they have be from family.  Obviously, none of those people have met my family, where everyone’s a critic.

Let me start by saying that I have five family members that buy my books but refuse to read them, including my father.  My SO doesn’t read them, he tells people I have to share a bed with her at night.  He also doesn’t buy them.

Now, my mother and mother-in-law both buy and read them.  Neither review them.  And some of them would be lucky to get four stars.  Mutilated Dreams is the perfect example – my mother is currently reading it; she retired Monday and is now playing catch up.  She’s had some questions and I can tell it isn’t making her favorite’s list.  I’m fairly certain she’d be giving a review that said something along the lines of “I found this one weird and a little confusing at times.  The scene with Valerie and the attack… well, it’s a good thing I know the author because that totally wasn’t making sense to me.  Overall, you have to read it, but only once.” Along with 3 stars, if she’s feeling generous.  My mother-in-law is no different, she’s told me things like “it was good, but it isn’t going to be one of my favorites.” and “it was a little weird.” and my favorite “it was okay.” (that phrase says more about a book than a 1-star review)

My best friend forever, is also one of my first cousins.  She despises the Strachan series, can’t get through book one.  In her words, it sucks.  She likes the Dysfunctional Chronicles quite a bit, but once told me the first book was way too long in the series.  She likes The Dysfunctional Affair much better now that it’s a novella.  And when it comes to the D&R series, well… she used to like them.  I can pinpoint the exact moment she stopped reading them: Explosive Dreams.  It’s the last one she’s read, so she made it to book 4 in the series.  Despite her lack of interest in my books, she is hugely supportive.

.The other first cousin that I consider a close friend has read The Dysfunctional Affair and thought it was a little scary.  She has never tried any of the others.

I have an aunt who is also a writer and she won’t read my books.  I have several aunts that read my other aunt’s books, but don’t/won’t read mine.

My biggest “family fan” is actually my uncle.  He reads them all and swears he’s loved them all… but he does have some concerns about Aislinn spending so much time hanging out in hotel rooms with a bunch of men.  When I was in need of a new D&R character, I specifically created Fiona so that he could stop worrying about Aislinn hanging around with a bunch of men in hotel rooms, by herself, because she now has another female in the group.  It worked out great.  Of course, he doesn’t review my books…

My own niece recently did review one of my books.  She gave it four stars and then told me how amazing it was that she was willing to give a book four stars.

I do have a handful of friends, mostly darters and other authors, that read my books, only one or two ever leaves a review and it isn’t on every book.  But the truth is, most of my friends are not cracking the spines of anything I write, let alone writing a review.

So, I don’t know all those people handing out 5-star reviews to other authors, but my own family and friends certainly aren’t.

My first reviews almost always come from beta readers.  This is a small group of people who love my books enough to leave reviews the moment the book is published and who I’ve never actually met in person.  I did have an instant messenger conversation with one about applying Jamberry nail wraps over Facebook, because she had never done it before and I had.  I keep track of their family, how they are, etc, and I do consider them friends, but we only met because they read and reviewed my books (I also think most indies end up considering their betas friends because it is very intimate to get their feedback before the book publishes).

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