Positive Review but Missing the Point? What to Do?

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Through the years helping authors get their books reviewed we find that sometimes even though the reviewer liked the book, the author didn’t like the review! Of course, all reviews have gray areas. Sometimes, the story is amazing but lacks editing. Other times, the book is perfect technically, but the plot is weak. On occasion, however, the review comes back positive, yet it’s evident to the author that the reviewer got it all wrong! Dealing with these cases is tricky because although as authors we put a big effort on communicating a specific message through our writing skills, we have no way to guarantee that all readers will get it because the author can’t be next to every reader and explain as they read. Furthermore, even though they didn’t get it, they liked the book! Here are some tips on how to handle positive reviews that are totally missing the point:

·         Do not assume that the reviewer didn’t read the book. Reviewers love to read, that is why they take the time out of their lives, work, and any other thing they have going on. They love to read. They gain nothing by writing a review, yet they do it because they get books to read, and they get to talk about them!

·         Just because the reviewer is an avid reader or is knowledgeable of the topic of your book, doesn’t mean that they can’t make a mistake writing the review or miss the point, or even get facts wrong. They are as human as authors!

·         The first thing an author needs to do after acknowledging the first two points above is determine exactly what is wrong. Are any of the characters’ names wrong? Location? If a non-fiction book, are any of the facts mentioned in the review wrong? Wrong does not mean how they wrote the review, or how they expressed themselves.

·         Be nice. The reviewer is not out to sabotage the author’s success. The author should ask questions like if there was anything in the writing that lead them to miss their point. If it was an error on the review, simply point it out and ask them to correct it. Being nice and taking the opportunity to connect with the reviewer as a reader can be helpful to your writing as well as to your PR as many reviewers are also bloggers.

Finally, remember that there will always be readers that won’t get it, and if, unfortunately, that one ended up being a reviewer, just have another reviewer check your book out, and ask them to look into the aspects of the book that the other one didn’t get…maybe they had a point after all and something can be done quickly to correct the problem, or there is nothing wrong, and now you have a better review!


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