The Balance of Reviews

Ever since 22 Scars was published, it’s been getting reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, and various other websites. Some of these (most, really) were reviews I sought—a free copy in exchange for a fair review—although a few were unsolicited.

And the reviews have been mixed. Of the professional, editorial reviews I got, Readers’ Favorite said:

“Thank you, C.M. North, for contributing to the frightening hidden darkness of adolescence. By not feeling alone, teens have a chance to overcome the pains of emerging adulthood.” —Readers’ Favorite

And Kirkus Reviews noted that 22 Scars:

“… delivers a riveting and dynamic examination of depression and self-mutilation in a teenage girl and the lasting effects of abuse within a family.” —Kirkus Reviews

These are strong, positive reviews, but what I’m really concerned with are my readers. The general public, the people who want a story to engage and entertain, and who may (or may not) have been satisfied by what they read.

Here’s a chart of the aggregate reviews gathered from Goodreads, Amazon US and Amazon UK (I haven’t found reviews anywhere else yet):

22 Scars Review Chart.001

As you can see, it’s weighted strongly to the positive; if 3 stars and above are considered good, then 86% of readers have liked the book to some extent. I’m a little harder on myself, of course; a 3 star review to me means that whilst they didn’t hate it, they weren’t exactly blown away, either. Taking into account only 4 and 5 star reviews, then only 65% of people really liked it.

I’ve referenced some of the reasons why I think not everyone is falling in love with 22 Scars before; I mentioned that I think the book came out more challenging than I anticipated, and that there are many other books in the world that deal with similar topics in an easier-to-digest way. However, it still isn’t easy whenever you get someone who leaves a 2 star review and simply says they were confused, or couldn’t empathize with the characters.

In the end, of course, not everyone likes every book; very few novels garner nothing but 5 star reviews, and I would hardly consider myself a master of the craft (yet, anyway). I’ve definitely gathered patterns from what people have liked and not liked, and I think that keeping a clearer timeline in the story is going to be important in future novels.

Still, as long as the reviews keep coming in, I’ll keep reading them, and learning from them. In a way, the negative reviews can be more helpful than the positive ones; whilst a 5 star rating certainly feels good, a constructive 2 star review can actually teach me something about writing.

And that’s what it’s all about.

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