What Do You Do With A Bad Review?

I’ve been getting mostly good reviews for my books, so it came as a shock when I noticed that one woman on Goodreads downrated them. She rated more than 100 books, giving all of them five stars except for a couple of 4-star ratings and three 3-star ratings. And guess whose books were all rated three stars? Mine. I couldn’t understand it — first, because most people who have read my books like at least one of them, and second (and the point that really bothered me), if she didn’t like my writing, why read all three? Why not stop after one or two?

I’d never met the woman, only know of her because we have an acquaintance  in common — someone I met because of my books, not a pre-publication friend. “I doubt she read the books,” this acquaintance told me, “she couldn’t possibly have read them and not liked them; your books are fabulous,” which made the whole thing even more incomprehensible. 

Until . . .

I got a really bad 2-star review for A Spark of Heavenly Fire, which made those three stars seem benign:

Not a bad story…but but but. I love post-apocolyptic stories – but a common mistake authors fall into with it is to immediately lose the sense of horror – their characters hardly react to dead bodies piling up around them – Bertram did this from the get-go. And this book was so badly edited that it is astonishing. Someone made the author chop this up without any concern for the reader’s ability to follow the story and understand the characters…fortunately, I didn’t care enough about any of them to worry about it.
Made me doubt myself.  Did I lose the sense of horror? But I never intended there to be a sense of horror (or at least not a sense of ghoulish horror). Nor did I intend to write a postapocalyptic story, which shows you the danger of genre expectations. The whole point was the lack of  bodies. After the first dying, when people died in their cars causing a city-wide traffic jam, people stayed in their houses, so that is where they succumbed to the red death. The only way my characters knew of the continued dying were the orange fluorescent markings appearing on the doors of houses where people had died. To me, that was even more horrible than bodies piling up — just this one simple reminder that people were still dying. Even more horrific was the silent city with soldiers patrolling the streets. That would spook the hell out of me! And no, people would not continue to react to the horror. They would become inured to it. It would become the new normal. And how could the reviewer have missed the hellish scene when two of my characters discovered what was being done with the dead human bodies . . . and the bodies of beloved pets?

Besides, the story was seen through the eyes of a soul-dead nurse, a gung-ho reporter, a self-centered, world-famous actor, and a woman who had that star in her eyes. Would any of them have continued to react to the dying? I doubt it. Still, I did wonder. Should I have shown more bodies piling up?

Then . . .

I was out walking along a residential street yesterday, and there was not a single other person in sight. Not a single vehicle on the road. And I knew I was right. No one would see the bodies if all the people in those houses suddenly died. And maybe they had expired — I had no way of knowing.

So, what does one do with a bad review? Blog about it, of course!! 

Review of More Deaths Than One

I received the most wonderful review of More Deaths Than One from John Beck, who entitled it “Cover to Cover Intrigue.” Beck said:

Pat Bertram grabbed my attention at the outset and didn’t let go. The complex and intriguing plot is not difficult to follow, just impossible to predict. Characters are enigmatic but believable. Settings are appropriately described but not overly so. Each chapter begs for the next to be read without ending each chapter with a “teaser”. Romance is steamy but tastefully done. There’s science fiction involved which is not so far out that some readers have even questioned how much could be true.

Like the last book of Job, the epilogue brings some poetic justice and adds a bit of meaning to the plot, but the real story stands even without the epilogue. There is not a paragraph which is not well written. Highly recommended.

Click here to buy More Deaths Than One from Second Wind Publishing LLC.

Click here to download 30% of More Deaths Than One free at Smashwords or to buy any ebook format, including Kindle.

My First Review!!!!!!!

Steven Clark  Bradley, author of Patriot Acts, has written such a marvelous review of my novel More Deaths Than One, that I can’t keep it to myself. I want to shout it to the world! I knew it would be a good review, because several days ago he messaged me on Facebook. This is a transcript of our conversation:

Steven: (4/19/09 10:37 pm) Hi Pat, I wanted to let you know that I am deeply into your book and it is fantastic. You have a great hook, at least it certainly hooked me! You have a natural talent. I usually read a book really quickly when I am going to post it and review it, but your book has my total attention and it reads very well. If you can get a large number of people to know of it, I know you could have a best seller there. Once again, free of flattery, you are one of the smartest writers I have met. I promise, you’ll love what I write about More Deaths Than One.

Pat: (4/20/09 11:51 am) What a wonderful thing to say! I am thrilled you like More Deaths Than One. You’re one of the very few people who have started reading it, so your encouragement is much appreciated.

The question that has haunted me for months is how do I get a large number of people to know of the book. Perhaps someday I will find the answer. Your review will help, that’s for sure!

Steven: (4/20/09 12:14 pm) The only word that comes to mind is Superb! I read until 1:00 Am last night and forced myself to go to bed! Great work!

I think your characters are so interesting and human. I feel I know them well now. Could we call it “What about Bob?” ;>) you’re a really great writer and no reason why you cannot sell thousands of books.

Steven: (4/22/09 1:21 am) Hi Pat, Sorry I have not written, but I have been busy finishing one great novel . . . written by you! I have already posted a review for your novel. I have not read a book that enjoyable in a very long time. You are a natural. I hope you like what I wrote and every word is the truth. I am happy to be your first posted review on Amazon. That gave me great pleasure. Have a great night and thank you for allowing me to share in the mind of Pat Bertram.

Pat: (4/22/09 12:17 pm) Steven, I am sitting here trying to figure out how to thank you for the fantastic review and the wonderful presentation on your blog, but  am touched beyond words. Still, you deserve the words: thank you. Your review was so well done that even I am now anxious to read More Deaths Than One!

Steven’s review: More Death’s Than One

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