Why book reviews are like Cool Whip

A penny for your thoughts …

My daughter turned the tables on me one night last week at dinner time. We are very traditional about dinner at our house—we all come together, cook and eat a real meal, turn off the TV and turn on some music. Then we sit around and chat about our day, the fall of the Roman Empire, Mitt Romney’s disturbing teen-age thuggery, or that Cool Whip is tasty but kind of weird. In other words, we have a conversation. It’s my favorite time of day.

Daughter informed me that in her spare time at school she had been “googling me” and came across the reviews of my books at Amazon. Most were positive, and some were not. How could two people read the same book and have a completely different experience? I guess a book review is like Cool Whip—some people love it, some hate it.  Like that non-dairy dessert topping, books inspire strong opinions.

And it’s a little weird to read a review. The thought of someone you don’t know, reading something you’ve written, and then posting what they thought of it is a little strange.

As a longtime newspaper editor and reporter, I’m used to “feedback” in one form or another. Sometimes it was an angry phone call or the appearance of an irate person at the newspaper. Other times, happy readers sent a note or homemade cookies. At the newspaper, however, one could step back from a story. There wasn’t a great deal of emotional attachment because we were reporting on something, not dreaming up a story out of our imaginations.

A book reveals a bit of one’s soul. Many people are very kind with their reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Good Reads. It’s hard not to take it personally when someone posts a negative review. My mind knows better than that, but not always my heart. At the same time, I try to learn from the honest comments and complaints, even if they have that same greasy aftertaste as Cool Whip.

People have always had opinions about products, books, music and the news. We now live in an age when it’s very easy to share our opinions with the world. In this interactive age, writers need to have a thick skin.

So here’s an invitation … if you’ve read one of my books, please write a review of it over at Amazon or B&N or Good Reads. Your feedback is appreciated! It might even be the stuff of dinnertime conversation.

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2 Responses to Why book reviews are like Cool Whip

  1. Zen says:

    I recently published my first book, and while I mostly got nice reviews, there were a few that were less than favourable… and like you, I found it difficult to accept it. I was indignant and upset, even though I’m fully aware that there will be some people who won’t like my book, just like there are some people who don’t like chocolate for example (even though I still find it difficult to believe that such people exist). I guess after a while the author starts to get used to it though, right?

    • David Healey says:

      I suppose we get more used to it, but not “completely” used to it 🙂 Thanks for sharing and lots of luck with your new book!

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