Thursday, September 30, 2010

How Does it Feel to Get a Glowing Book Review?

The review of my new novel begins: “This is one of the best books I’ve read in ages.”

Reading a sentence like this brings on the exhale . . . the sigh of relief I dare say every author (who reads her reviews) experiences when a good one appears in print. Today I was honored to receive a glowing book review of Irish Twins from renowned journalist, celebrity interviewer and author, Betty Dravis

Dravis is a not only a top reviewer for, but she also has a very public persona with a multitude of websites and connections. Many know her as one of the most supportive and loved author advocates on the World Wide Web. Having her first take time to read your book, and then formulate a detailed, thoughtful and positive review is enough to make you believe maybe—just maybe—your book is pretty darn good after all!

Here is a link to her full-length review: BETTY DRAVIS LOVES IRISH TWINS

When I have the opportunity to speak to or communicate with other authors, the subject of reviews often comes up. A few years ago I wrote to the New York Times Bestselling humor author Laurie Notaro and asked her to review the ARC of my Bunko book (It’s Not Your Mother’s Bridge Club) for a cover blurb. She said no. But she also said she knew who I was, and that’s because I had reviewed a few of her books. “Oh, I know who you are,” she said, indicating she recognized my name from a few Spotlight Reviews of her books on She continued: “ . . . And any author who tells you she doesn’t read the reviews is lying!”

Last Spring as a volunteer at the Tucson Festival of Books, I spent time with two authors, Barbara Samuel O’Neal (author of some thirty books) and Cassandra King (best-selling author and wife of author, Pat Conroy). I asked them both about whether or not they read their reviews.

“Only the good ones that my agent tells me to read,” quipped Samuel.

King, on the other hand, didn’t exactly answer the question. Instead she repeated advice she received from her famous husband, author of well-known works such as The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini. “Early in my writing career,” she said, “my husband told me that only a masochist would read reviews posted on”

My five published books have received both good and bad reviews and I’ve matured enough as an author to know that taking them for what they’re worth is all part of the job. It’s easy to tell the difference between a personal attack vs. what is constructive criticism . . . and it’s also easy to tell whether or not a so-called reviewer has actually read the book. Yes, it may seem hard to digest, but there are some people out there, who for whatever bitter reason, feel the need to present an anonymous scathing opinion of who they think you are and what they think of your book.

I write a lot of book reviews and tend to publish only the positive opinions. Occasionally I feel strongly enough about something to dip into the two-star (vs. four or five star) areas; however, it’s rare. I have too much respect and empathy for authors to potentially hurt their feelings or criticize their hard work. Turns out, you can also insult readers who liked the books you didn’t. One time I gave three stars to a book primarily because in addition to displaying average to below-average writing skills, I thought it was marketed incorrectly and suggested it would appeal more to those interested in reading “Christian fiction.” To this review I received a comment calling me “obviously anti-Christian.”


So, to all book writers and all book reviewers, I congratulate you for having the courage to put it out there for all to see . . . and for all to criticize or praise. We know everything you write isn’t going to be glowing and positive; however, is sure feels NICE when it is.

For more information about Betty Dravis please visit her website at

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Betty Dravis said...

I'm so flattered, Michele, that you posted my review of IRISH TWINS on two of your websites. I left a long comment at the other site where the full review is posted.

Thanks so much, and it makes me feel good when I love a book so much that I can honestly RAVE about it.

I enjoyed your sharing about other authors and their feelings on reviews. Since Pat Conroy is my favorite author (living or dead) forever and ever, please tell Cassandra King that Pat better read all my glowing reviews of his books... ;-)FYI, I love PRINCE OF TIDES, but BEACH MUSIC is my fave book ever... next to THE BIBLE, of course.

Also, Michele, I must say that both your websites are outstanding in design and formatting.

Thanks again & keep writing those brilliant gems.

Hugs - Betty

Jenners said...

That must be such a good feeling.

And I try my very hardest to be fair but honest in my reviews without being hurtful. However, I exempted James Patterson from this policy ... he can handle it I think!