Release Day Jitters

Tomorrow is the official release date for Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady, even though it seems to be in bookstores already and is available at online bookstores. The ebook version will be released tomorrow (Kindle owners take note!)

It is impossible to know for certain if your book “works” until comments appear, so I’ve been biting my nails a bit in anticipation of the feedback that comes with reader comments and reviews.

I’ve been so lucky that both Judy and Keira gave me mini-reviews in their comments to my blog last Monday. I almost breathed a sigh of relief reading what they had to say. And Judy wrote a lovely review on Amazon, which was very nice of her to do.

Early on I received a 4 star review from RT Book Reviews; that’s always a pleasure.

And yesterday a new review appeared on CataRomance. Debby Guyette calls it “one captivating book.” Yay!!!

But not all is rosy. Two reader reviewers on Amazon gave the book 3 stars, which is disappointing, because one hopes everyone loves the book, even if that is impossible. At least these readers explained their reasoning and listed both positives and negatives, which I appreciate.

Many of my author friends say not to read reviews, not to pay any attention to them. And it is true that I can quote the less enthusiastic lines from my very first and only Publishers Weekly review of The Improper Wife, but I also remember the PW reviewer thought I wrote “sizzling love scenes.” The way I figure it, if I didn’t look for reviews, I wouldn’t see the positive ones, and I wouldn’t know if my book “worked” for anyone.

There is also debate among my friends as to how much people pay attention to reviews. I personally think that they do influence whether or not a person buys a book. I have to admit that I read Amazon reviews before buying a book, unless I know the author or have read something else by that author. I try to assess whether the reviewer has an agenda behind a low review, though. You can mostly tell. And I’m not usually purchasing Romance books when I look at Amazon reviews. I also read RT reviews but typically to see how they’ve assessed friends’ books, not to develop a reading list.

Of course, I no longer feel I’m a typical reader, so it is hard to say how much reviews would affect my book buying habits if I were. Before I was writing in earnest there weren’t as many reviews online and I mostly went on reading “kicks.” Reading all the Dick Francis books at one point; all the Victoria Holt, Bernard Cornwell, Georgette Heyer, Lois McMaster Bujold, any traditional Regency I could find. A book from the Washington Post Book World might have captured my attention, but mostly my choices seemed pretty random or began with a friend’s recommendation.

How do you select a book?

How do reviews influence you? (I’m assuming they do)

Dec 2 I’m blogging with Romance Bandits and giving away a copy of Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady

Dec 6 I’ll be here at Risky Regencies, also giving away a copy.

Check my website for the complete schedule.

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13 years ago

You’re most welcome. And I loved The Improper Wife, so what does the reviewer know.

My first choice in selecting a new author is for a friend who knows my reading likes and dislikes to recommend them. I also take the recommendations of authors I like, but most often it’s an impulse buy. I have used Amazon recommendations, ie, you’ve read that author, you might like this one. It has worked occasionally and failed miserably other times. I do read reviews when I’m browsing and take note if it’s something like “the hero was totally self-absorbed and the heroine was whiney.” If the reviewer is criticizing the plot, I don’t pay much attention as I’m always more focused on the characters.

Deb Marlowe
13 years ago

I haven’t found my copy yet, but I can’t wait!

My reading time is limited these days, so I mostly stick to authors I know I enjoy.

I do belong to a great book club, and that helps keep me reading. I’ve also grown to know the members’ tastes, so I know who to go to for recommendations.

Happy almost Release Day, Diane!

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon
13 years ago

Congratulations Diane on your release date. I have to say that I try not to let reviews influence my buying. If I like an author, I’ll automatically buy the book, and I pay more attention to the back cover blurb. I also tend, at least with historicals, to buy certain time periods more than others. If a book is set during the Victorian period, that is automatically going to make me pause to check it out. Also, with Amazon reviews, you have to take them with a grain of salt. Some of them can be very good, and very nuanced in their criticism, and some are just people with axes to grind. I always check out to see if they say what they like about the book before they start talking about what they didn’t like.

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

Thanks again, Judy, for your support! I’m so glad my books fit in with your “likes.”

Hi, Deb! My reading time is limited too and I hate that I don’t have time to read every book that interests me.

Elizabeth, like you, I evaluate Amazon reviews carefully. So a bad Amazon review doesn’t necessarily stop me.

Keira Soleore
13 years ago

Not at all! I don’t read reviews. These days, I’m either reading upcoming books by authors I know and love or backlists of authors I know and love. Every once in a while, I’ll give a new-to-me author a try based on word-of-mouth of a very select set of friends.

For highly anticipated books, I don’t even read back-cover copy, summary, author’s note, or even excerpts. I want a pristine reading experience unmarred by any ‘seeding.’

Diane, I would say this book is imo your best book to date, and that’s saying a lot given how much I’ve enjoyed your books. You took a lot of risk with the non-romantic portrayl of war and its after-effects, and I felt, succeeded on all fronts.

Keira Soleore
13 years ago

And hey, Ammanda has an Undone novella releasing tomorrow!

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

Omigosh, Keira! Thank you so much! I’m blushing.

Keira Soleore
13 years ago

eHarlequin.com is offering 15% off all ebooks in a 24-hour sale. Coupon code “24HOURSALE” at checkout.

Jane George
13 years ago


I can’t wait to read GOFL.
And no, I don’t pay much attention to reviews of books or movies. It’s so subjective. I give a bit more weight to restaurant reviews. There seems to be more agreement on what tastes good.

Jane Austen
13 years ago

Diane, can’t wait to get the book on Kindle. You are one of my favorite new authors, so I must have all your books.

I do subscribe to Bookmarks, which has over 500 book reviews a month. When I worked at Barnes & Noble I would read what my customers were buying because I wanted to be able to talk about a popular book. I found some great authors this way and some not so great.

I do love Targets bookmarked breakouts, which I have said before. Now when I go to Target though I don’t buy the books. I stand in the book aisle with my Kindle and download the books I’m interested in or just download a sample if I’m unsure. (Love the sample function of Kindle).

For the most part I browse the web or in bookstores. If I’m in a bookstore and see a book I think might interest me (I just walk up and down the aisles reading titles waiting for something to JUMP at me) I pick up the book and open it to three random pages and read those pages. It’s how I see if I like how a book is written. I never read the end or the beginning, but parts in the middle. This trick has only steered my wrong one time and that is with the book The Lily and The Dragon by Dafvdd Jones. I recommend no one buy or read this book. On page 47 it’s turns into bestiality with dwarves and the Queen of France (the book is about the battle of Aggincourt) puts a bat where no human should ever put a bat (in her rectum to use a nice word). Sad thing is, I couldn’t throw the book away because I just can’t throw a book away. So my friends created a distraction in the library while I shoved it in the return pile. A year later I went back to that library (it was in Wales) and they had cataloged the book and made it part of their collection. I looked for it on the shelf and it was missing. Perhaps it found a friend who enjoyed the book. I wish them well.

As far as amazon reviews go, I only read the two or one star reviews. I like to know what people felt was wrong with the book to see if those would actually bother me as well. Most of the time I find that they wouldn’t and so I buy the book. Sometimes it would bother me though and then I look for something else.

I also download almost every Kindle bestseller that is free because it’s free and maybe I’ll find something I like.

And finally since this comment just isn’t long enough, I feel that as a librarian I should read from every genre and I do. I read a book from each genre a year. Some are good, some are bad, some are indifferent, but I feel it makes me knowledgeable about many subjects. I must admit there’s some fun historical gay fiction: look up these titles on Amazon.com….the pictures are a hoot and the books are pretty good: Discreet Young Gentlemen by M.J. Pearson and The Back Passage by James Lear. I’m surprised my Amazon.com recommendations list hasn’t exploded yet. I’m sure it’s the only one where gay fiction, christian romance, sports and children’s lit sit together side by side saying “buy me, you’ll like me because you liked this….”

Maggie Robinson w/a Margaret Rowe

I bought it Saturday in Walmart, and can’t wait to read it. I’ve got all sorts of rewards for myself once I finish the WIP (about 9500 words to go…but who’s counting?)and your book is one of them.

I have a circle of romance buddies whose opinion I rely on. I do read RT and can usually tell if something’s going to work for me, but I never read Amazon reviews. I am absolutely dreading the whole review thing for my spring debut releases…someone will have to lock me in a closet until it’s all over. 🙂

Tamara Morgan
13 years ago

I read reviews, but only for entertainment value – never to direct my purchasing habits. Most of the time, I think reviews tell me more about the reviewer than the actual experience I will have reading the book.

Congrats, btw, for making the B&N top books of 2009!

Megan Frampton
13 years ago

I don’t go by reviews, but by friends’ recommendations. Usually I read reviews after I’ve read the book to see if I missed something, or if someone had a dramatically different opinion. But I don’t listen to people I don’t know, unless they get paid for their opinion, and I know they are relatively objective.

Congrats on the release, Diane!

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

Omigosh, Tamara! I had no idea!!!! Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention.

Here’s the link everybody!

Fave 2009 Romance Books from BN’s Heart to Heart Blog

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

Jane Austen, your love of books just shines out from that comment!

Barbara, I quite like my book being one of your rewards.

Megan, come to think of it, I read reviews after reading the book, too.

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

Jane George, I forgot to comment about your comment. I wonder about food reviews. There are some foods I just don’t like that others love. Like Indian food and sushi

13 years ago

Congratulations on your Release Day Diane! I posted it on my Blog & will Tweet it too.
Love & Best Wishes to you & yours,

Amanda McCabe
13 years ago

As a reader, I usually only look at review to see what’s coming out (especially since I like to look for “unusual” books that can be harder to track down!), and as a writer try hard to ignore them, but that can be hard. Curses on Google alerts! 🙂

13 years ago

If I see a book I’ve not heard of, I’ll read the back cover blurb. The title and cover may attract me initially, but the blurb is what will sell me. If it a book by a know author, the blurb still counts. There a few authors that I’ll by whatever they write, but I still read that blurb.
I do read reviews, but I’ll read several before making a decision to check into it further.

13 years ago

Congrats on your release! Relax I’m sure all will be fantastic. Lately a lot of my book picks have been from word of mouth recommendations or blog recommendations.
Wishing you all the best.

Donna Cummings
13 years ago

I usually read Amazon reviews AFTER I have finished reading a book, and too often I think, “Were we reading the same book?” LOL

BUT, I do like to see what the various reviewers feel doesn’t work about a book. Most often it’s because the characters acted “out of character”, or they had different expectations of where the book was headed.

This is very helpful to me as an unpublished writer, since it reminds me to make sure I keep my characters’ motivations clear, and ensure the story I say I’m going to tell is actually the story I *do* tell.

Congrats, Diane — I can’t wait to read this one!

Kit Donner
13 years ago

Hi Diane,
I believe GOFL recently was rated best of 2009, but I don’t know where I read it. Can’t wait to read it. Do I read reviews? Yes because, like you, I want to know what worked and what didn’t. Best of luck with GOFL and Happy Holidays!

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

RK, thank you so much for including GOFL on your blog among all those demons and vampires!

Librarypat, I, too, am attracted by covers but it is the back cover blurb that would help me decide whether to purchase.

Kwanna, Hi!!!! (I’m waving madly)

Donna, as much as I don’t like negative reviews, I like when I can learn something from them. One reviewer once said a villain of mine was basically a cliche. From then on I tried to make my villains complex.

Kit, Tamara announced it to me here and I’ve been posting it everywhere ever since. GOFL is on Michelle Buonfiglio’s Fave 2009 Romance Books on Barnes and Noble!

Barbara Monajem
13 years ago

I don’t read reviews. I have too much other stuff to read! (Such as the books themselves.)

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