Stephen Davies

Children's author writing picture books, chapter books and YA novels. Lived in West Africa for thirteen years amongst Fulani cattle herders. Now shivering back home in London. Up until now all my books have been set in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, on the edge of the Sahara Desert.

Reviews that make me go Ouch!

by Stephen Davies

Good reviews are like delicious droplets of milk that jump out of the bowl while you milk your cow, splashing your face and arms. Bad reviews are like tiny sparks that jump out of the campfire at night, burning your skin and making you gasp ‘ouch’. An author’s life is a mixture of droplets and sparks.

Here are four of the sparkiest customer reviews my books have received in the past few years. The third is from Barnes and Noble, the rest from Amazon.

I only recommend THE YELLOWCAKE CONSPIRACY for people who are able to follow the puzzling jigsaw layout

The characters in OUTLAW are flatter than yeastless pancakes

OUTLAW is disturbingly and graphically violent. It also trumpets none too subtly a number of value-laden political messages

The action in HACKING TIMBUKTU was choppy, mostly because the author’s descriptive abilities seem to be sophomoric at best. I would give less than a star if I could

Most authors know by now that you should never comment on bad reviews or reply to reviewers – it never ends well. Unless you’re Robert Burns, in which case it’s hilarious (thanks Krystle, for that fantastic link).

Reviews are essential to authors today. Really, they are. Good reviews, bad reviews, mixed reviews, they all help potential buyers to make an informed choice. If you liked one of my books, I would urge you please to write an honest Amazon review of it. If you despised one of my books with every fibre of your being, I would urge you to keep quiet review it anyway.

Published: February 4, 2012 | Filed Under: Outlaw, YA books

6 Responses to “Reviews that make me go Ouch!”

  1. Ann Herrick says:

    No matter how many people love a book, there are always some who don’t like it. That’s just the way it is. Enjoy all the good ones!

  2. Mirka Breen says:

    You are a good sport, Steve, to take the ‘so long as they spell my name right’ approach. I have a multi-published author friend who has a different take: none of the reviews, good or bad, mean anything.
    I fall in between. On some sites there’s a sport made of snark, and that is where my friend’s approach is most valid. Personal feedback given out of the public eye can be instructive, especially when it isn’t positive. Public bashing or gushing rarely helps to enlighten the author. But you are right that it may help get noticed.

    • Steve says:

      ‘So long as they spell my name right’! That made me smile. Thanks for your comment, Mirka. I think your friend is right to be cautious of all reviews, both good and bad. Although I can’t help thinking that the Amazon reviewer who titled his OUTLAW review ‘A Marvellous, Fantastic Tour De Force’ was a fellow of great perspicacity.

      There’s an opinion piece on the BBC website today titled ‘Mourning the loss of the written word’. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/mobile/magazine-16871715 Maybe the review sites you mention should accept handwritten reviews only!

  3. Mirka Breen says:

    “Maybe the review sites you mention should accept handwritten reviews only!”

    That’s assuming anyone knows how to write by hand anymore…

  4. I’ve heard that authors should not read reviews of their books, but it’s tough not to. We hope readers love our books as much as we do, but no book suits every person. Tastes vary, which is why there are so many books out there. As much as a bad review can hurt, as authors we have to respect the reader’s opinion–no matter how tough that is.

Leave a Reply