Monday, March 28, 2011

RITA Finalist Melissa Mayhue Discusses Reviews

Congratulations to Melissa Mayhue for her book HEALING THE HIGHLANDER being a RITA Finalist! Good luck, Melissa!

My thanks to my friend, Lizzie, for inviting me here today to celebrate the release of my latest book, HIGHLANDER’S CURSE. For those of you who aren’t familiar with my books, my series could best be described as Paranormal/ Time Travel Romance. There are Highlanders and Faeries and usually a mystery or two and one of the best things about the series – at least for me! – is that some are contemporary and some are historical [medieval] so I never have a chance to get bored with what I’m writing.

I thought it might be fun today to ask Lizzie’s readers a question…  I know that there are likely some writers out there as well, but before you answer, I’d like you to take off your writer hat and replace it with your Reader hat.


What do you like to see in a review? There are hundreds of blogs and opinion pieces out there, written by venting Authors and venting Reviewers – each with their own ideas of what a book review should look like. Naturally, as a writer, I have my own opinions which – of course! – I’m going to share here.

Let me begin by saying the idea for this subject came to me a couple of days ago when my Google Alert led me to a review of my last release, HEALING THE HIGHLANDER. I was really, really unhappy with that particular review…but probably not for the reason you might imagine.

Which leads me to my opinions on Reviews and Reviewers…

Do I mind if the Reviewer trashes my book? Well, I certainly can’t say I like it.  But if the Reviewer is simply stating her opinions and she honestly didn’t like the book for whatever reason [storyline, hero, heroine, language, too much sex, not enough sex, whatever], I completely support her right to her opinion. Reading is subjective. That’s why there are so many different types of books! Not everyone is going to love my books… no matter how much I think they should! [Okay, yes… I am joking there]. They won’t. I accept that, because I don’t like every book I read.

Do I expect the Reviewer to justify why she didn’t like my book? Not really. Though I’m sure their audience would probably like to know what they did or didn’t like about it. For me, I just know that there are lots of books out there I don’t like and I usually can’t tell you WHY I didn’t like them any better than I can tell you why I loved something else. I loved it or I didn’t. Period. [That’s why it’s important to find a Reviewer whose tastes are similar to yours so you know if they liked something, you probably will too – or the reverse… If they hate it, you’ll love it!]

Do I expect the Reviewer to be kind to my book because I worked hard on it? [I’ve actually heard this opinion expressed!] - *snort* I don’t think so. It took Tolstoy six years [SIX YEARS!!] to write War and Peace and as horrible as it may be to say, I am NOT a fan.

Do I have a problem with the Reviewer not being a professional? What the heck is that, anyway? Professional? To me, every Reader who picks up one of my books [or any other book for that matter] is a Professional Reviewer in that, if the Reader doesn’t like it, she probably won’t buy any more of my books. And honestly, that’s the bottom line. Every Reader has an opinion. Some of them choose to share their opinions with the world – and whether that’s over coffee with her best friends or on a blog or on Goodreads, her opinion is every bit as valid as the next person’s.

So… if it wasn’t those hot topic items that bothered me, what exactly do I consider Reviewer Sins? Oh that’s easy. And it’s actually a pretty short list:

My Number One Sin in reviewing books – Telling the whole story in the review. Ack, people! I spent at least six months coming up with all those twists and turns and surprises… please don’t give it all away in three [long] paragraphs and ruin the book for my readers!!! [And it was this Number One Sin that was committed in the particular review I mentioned earlier that made me so unhappy…] I put a lot of effort into creating complex characters who are [like real people] a blend of good and bad, specifically to make it harder sometimes to figure out who the REAL bad guys is. Don’t Spoil It!!!

The Other Sins – in no particular order:

** - Please don’t hold me responsible for the cover or the formatting. Even when the hero is repeatedly described as having long black hair and the guy on the back cover clearly has short brown hair. I’m not saying you shouldn’t mention that sort of blooper in your review. [I probably would if I were writing the review… and I can guaran-damn-tee it’s one of the first things the author noticed about the book]. But don’t blame the author. In most publishing situations, the author has… oh… ZERO say on her covers. And the formatting from print to e-book? Authors typically don’t even know WHEN their publisher is getting that done, let alone have a say in the process.

** - Please don’t make the review personal. I’ve actually seen reviews where the author is called names… fat, stupid, ugly. There really is no place in a review for those types of comments. [Equally, while we’re on the subject, there is no room for authors responding with name-calling directed at the Reviewer, either!]

So there you have it. My whole list. And now we’re back to my original question for Readers:

What do you like to see [or NOT see] in a review?

MELISSA MAYHUE writes award-winning paranormal romance for Pocket Books, all set in an imaginary world of Faeries and Mortals. Her seventh book, HEALING THE HIGHLANDER hit stores on February 22 and her eighth, HIGHLANDER’S CURSE, is available on March 29, 2011. You can visit her on the web at: or come Twitter with her at


Melissa Mayhue said...

ACK!!! "to figure out who the REAL bad guys is" ... GUY not GUYS!!! Sheesh. And THAT my friends, is why a copy editor [not Spellcheck] is worth her weight in gold -- To keep me from making goofball mistakes like that one!

~ Melissa
*the red-faced*

FantasyAuthor RobinDOwens said...

Good points, Melissa. Also, one of my latest reviewers apparently wanted a different book, or emphasis on something other than I did.

So I would appreciate if the reader reviewed the book I wrote...

And as for the glitch, I didn't even see it when I was reading. ;)