What a Review Actually Means to a Writer


Review Tour of Movie Magic begins December 14. Watch my blog for details!

As I wait impatiently for more reviews for Movie Magic, I have been reflecting on the nature of the review machine. Authors are constantly asking for reviews. As a reader, maybe you wonder why. Why would we open ourselves up to criticism?

Here’s the thing, though. Reviews—even critical reviews—are not a bad thing for a writer. Sure, we gloat when we get a good review. What writer doesn’t count their five-star reviews on Amazon and feel a little gratified? But it’s the other reviews that truly reveal something to us.

For instance, my book Where the Heart Lies, published by Carina Press in 2012, has 14 reviews and a total of 3.7 stars. This book garnered me my first (though I am sure not last) two-star review on Amazon. It actually has two. Which were kind of “ouch” at the time, but both reviews are chock full of advice that I’ve put into play in my growth as a writer.

I read every review I get and I try to learn something from every review that doesn’t just say “not my cup of tea”. Because, you know, if it’s not your cup of tea, don’t drink it. If you do drink it and feel moved to say something, then say why it’s not your cup of tea. I can’t help it if you picked up the wrong cup of tea, but if I put something in your tea that you didn’t like, definitely tell me!

This is all a rambling way of saying reviews are not just status symbols for writers and we don’t just want you to write a review if you loved the book. Yes, I’d like to see a hundred or more five-star reviews on all my books, but not just because. I want them because I earned them. But if you feel I earned two or three stars instead, tell me why. Then read my next book and see if I paid attention. You might be surprised.

Would you like to review Movie Magic? Contact me for a free copy or sign up here:

Goddess Fish Review Tour

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Please note, all review requests subject to approval by tour service/author.

Living the Alternative Write-Style

Yes, that’s right. Me. Joe Romance Novelist. I live an alternative write-style.

You never would have guessed? Or you have no idea what I’m talking about?

Well, here it is. I take writing very seriously. I identify myself as a writer, an author, a storyteller, a book-maker. Hell, last year when I filled out my taxes, I put “writer” in as my profession. It is, and someday I even hope to make a living at it.

But I can’t swear I write forty hours a week or two thousand words a day or whatever is considered the going rate for a working writer. And I’m starting to accept that I don’t have to.

Last night I stayed up late because I hadn’t written all day. Well, nothing but tweets, and I just can’t count those. I have two works-in-progress ongoing right now, a vague outline of a romance featuring a sexy male librarian hero, and a complete novel waiting for my edits. I’ve got plenty to do, ideas percolating in my brain at all hours. If I had my way, I’d be indulging in a write fest nine to five every day.

Ah, but there’s a rub. I also have three kids getting ready to start school, a puppy who insists on being walked every hour and a half, a hard-working husband who deserves to be fed at some point after he comes home from work, and a house that hasn’t been completely clean since summer started…or possibly since we moved in.

This is where the alternative write-style comes in. Over the summer I’ve given up on set writing time. I’ve made the decision that I will write when I can. Like last night. I stayed up thirty minutes later than I should have and wrote a grand total of about four hundred words. And you know what I saw when I gazed blearily at my computer screen at 12:30 a.m.? I saw the one thing that I needed to see.


(For some reason, that little song Dory from “Finding Nemo” sang keeps running through my head: “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”)

If you have to live an alternative write-style, don’t worry. You may not hit the two thousand prescribed words a day a serious writer is supposed to write. The question is, would you like to? If you could get someone else to do your grocery shopping and kid carting and day job for you, would you sit down and write until you hit two thousand words a day? If the answer is yes, then you’re a writer.

However, if you’d rather be rock-climbing or skydiving or playing Minecraft all day (I mean, hell, if you’ve got someone working your day job for you, who can blame you?), then you might be more of a hobbyist writer. Nothing wrong with it, but you probably shouldn’t call yourself a writer on your income taxes.

In the meantime, writers, here’s the one bit of advice I really feel like I can give you: Whatever you do, just keep swimming…