One of my rules for writing, now cast in stone, is that you should get people to read your stuff. But of course this applies before you have unleashed your creation upon the entire world. After that, you don’t have much choice. People will read your creation, or not. They’ll like it, or they won’t. And nowadays, they are happy to tell you what they think.
This is a new phenomenon. I have received a couple of fan letters in my life, and there have been a number of reviews (almost all favorable), but mostly I haven’t heard anything from anyone about what I’ve written. But now I’m up to 17 customer reviews of Senator on Amazon, there are several on iTunes, and there are probably some others lurking out there. My other books have also had a few reviews. And, strangely, not every review is entirely positive. I quoted from a really positive review of Senator a while back. Now, in the interest of equal time, let’s take a look at a couple of two-star Kindle reviews (no one-star reviews yet!). This one is titled “boring,” and the semicolon is there in the original:
I stopped after 50 pages, the book was too predictable. Nothing much new here. It was not esp;ecially well written or exciting.
And this person disliked the book so much he needed to tell the world in ALL CAPS:
THE BOOK IS VERY SLOW AND DOESN’T ACHIEVE THE STATUS OF THRILLER; IN OCCASIONS CHARACTERS DON’T HAVE A SPEC OF NOTION ABOUT THEIR INTERRELATION WITH THE OTHER CHARACTERS.
Of course, my initial reaction is to argue with these fine folks: my characters do too have a spec of notion about their interrrelation with the other characters. That’s what the friggin’ book is all about, darn it to heck.
But that way madness lies. It helps that far better novels than mine have gotten worse reviews than these. But ultimately, great writers or not, we should all follow the advice of the immortal Rick Nelson: You can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.