Reading Between the Lines

In my previous post, I listed out some of the free eBooks that are well edited. After each I listed some notes. In the notes of The Demon Girl I said that I stopped reading it because of the unbelievable love story. It was the only negative thing I said in the whole post. I had my wife proofread it before I posted. Her reaction? That book (The Demon Girl) was the only one she wanted to read and, in fact, she planned on reading it next. I was floored.

“But why? I said the love story was unbelievable?”

“That’s okay. I don’t mind that.”

I’ve posted a lot here about how even bad reviews can be good. This is a perfect example. My wife read my mini-review and decided that she was interested in the book for the exact reasons that it turned me off.

As humans, we are used to reading between the lines. I scan Amazon reviews looking for the things that ring true to me and that are on my list of things that bug me. We’ve all done it. Looking for a cordless drill? Maybe the reviews are mediocre but the main reason is because the battery life isn’t great. Maybe you are the type that rarely use a drill and when you do, it is only for a few minutes at a time. You would easily ignore those comments and look to see if anything else actually applied to you.

The same happens with books. When I read reviews of a book that has a cover/summary that interests me, I’m looking for reasons to read the book. If the reviews say things like the characters are thin or the premise is unbelievable, I’ll still read it. In fact, I’ll keep those things in mind and perhaps like the book better for it (this happened with Metagame back when it was free). But if the reviews comment on poor editing, gratuitous sex/rape, or compare the quality to Twilight, I’ll immediately skip it even if the reviews are glowing.

This is something I have to keep in mind when I read reviews of my book. Even if they seem to me to be negative, someone out there could be reading it and saying, “Yeah, but that stuff doesn’t bother me…”