But do you like my book?

And so comes the Monday after the first weekend you’ve all have with my newest book.  I sit on tenterhooks wondering, worrying, hoping.

Sweet Salt Air  has actually been out and around for the sake of getting early reviews.  Part of the promotional campaign leading up to its publication entailed sending Advance Reading Copies to more than a hundred book groups around the country.  In return, they’ve posted reviews in blogs and on Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, and the like.  Excerpts of some of these reviews appeared in a New York Times Book Review ad on Sunday, June 16.   Here’s the ad.  Pretty, huh?

New York Times ad for Sweet Salt Air

I try not to see reviews of my books.  Some of you already know this, but I’ve stopped reading reviews of my books at online venues.  It’s too upsetting.  There may be twenty good reviews for one bad one, but it’s that bad one over which I obsess.

This time around, though, there’s Facebook.  Many of the groups that received ARCs have met and discussed the book and have posted reviews on my Facebook page.  Since I monitor this page closely – so that I can thank these early readers – I inevitably read their posts.  And the great majority of their remarks have been amazing.  These readers loved the island, the characters, the herbs, the food, and Bear.  They loved the health crisis and the discussion of umbilical cord blood stem cells.  Their groups discussed friendship, parenting, secrets, and love – all the things I had hoped that they would.

Then there are the others.

One woman complained about typos.  I posted a comment explaining that Advance Reading Copies are uncorrected proofs.

One woman complained about grammatical errors.  I posted a comment explaining that since I’m a stickler for correct grammar, what she may have taken to be errors was intentional – either house style or simply the way people think or speak.

One woman implied that her group thought having sex in the ocean was a laughable idea.  I say, each to his own.

But how much should I say?  On one hand, if a reader posts a negative remark on my Facebook page, don’t I have a right to defend myself?  On the other hand, does that risk alienating someone who might otherwise become a fan of my work?

What do you think?  Should I rebut criticism?  Or should I just grin and bear it?



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  1. Anne on June 24, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    I read constantly, and particularly like books by, for and about women. I also like books which tackle tough subjects, topics that younger readers hesitate to talk about and younger writers have insufficient life experience to write about with such accuracy of detail and depth of emotion. I thought Sweet Salt Air was absolutely wonderful; the best of your books that I’ve read, though I don’t remember one I haven’t liked! Thank you!

  2. Carol Blowers on June 25, 2013 at 8:03 am

    I have read half of your books and own all of them including the short stories and I have never come across any wrong words in them and for the sex in the ocean it is possible I have heard about it so for all the negative nelly’s I say you should not waist your time and think about all the positive reviews.

  3. Shelly Blades on June 25, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    I have read all your book. Sweet Salt air was another wonderfully written book. I finished it in one day. I could not put it down. You will always have a fan in me and so many others. Please keep writing your amazing books.

  4. Keri on June 25, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Love your writing! The last book I read ( not yours) I realized I was plugging along and taking a mental note that it was taking me a long time just to get to page 100. Then I pick up one of your books, and I fly through the pages. The next thing I know, I can’t keep my eyes open and I am more than half way through your book , never once looking to see what page number I am on. That is why we( your fans) buy your books. You are a fantastic writer. So much so that I am number 83 on the library waiting list for Sweet Salt Air. I couldn’t wait that long, so I went out and bought the book! I say don’t worry about the negative Nellie’s out there. There are always people who have something negative to say. You’ll always have a fan in me as well!

  5. Rachel Galliano on June 26, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    I think you have a right to defend yourself in the way that benefits and protects your self esteem.

  6. Bettye Griffin on June 26, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    Good point, Barbara! I don’t believe in responding to negative reviews on review sites like Amazon, no matter what readers say (complaints about the characters or plotline are entirely subjective, but I have to bite my tongue [my fingers?] when they say ridiculous things like I changed the race of my characters midway through the book when they clearly didn’t realize they were non-white upon introduction–like I don’t know who I’m writing about). Your Facebook page, though, I think is different, although sticking to the factual (like ARCs being unedited and uncorrected) and ignoring the subjective (like the lady who didn’t think much of the idea of sex in the ocean) might be a good guideline to follow. You can always put in a disclaimer that while you will try to correct any misconceptions, time doesn’t allow you to respond to subjective comments, just so readers don’t feel slighted.

  7. Sue on June 27, 2013 at 9:22 am

    I love your books, can never put them down, some people just enjoy the stupid negativity and I agree with Carol – sex in the ocean is possible, that group needs to add some adventure to their life : )

  8. Colleen Craft on June 27, 2013 at 11:05 am

    I loved Sweet Salt Air. One of your best even though I love all your books. Keep writing. I can’t wait until your next book.

  9. Roselyn I Palmer on June 27, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    I have read most if not all of your books, i think you just get better and better, I am an avid reader and usually
    buy books as they are offered. REALLY enjoyed this book. Thank You Roselyn
    more please.

  10. Susan Edmondson on June 27, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    I will be joining your Facebook page now that I know about it. I think you ccould inform us of techincal things (such as typos or not). As for subjective comments – if you react strongly, we might too so please respond. I am surprised that anyone who reads fiction would question an activity. Maybe they don’t fully understand the definition of fiction. Just saying……..

  11. Rita_h (My Home of Books) on June 27, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    I have read probably half to most of your books, and I always enjoy them! In regards to nitpicking criticism on your Facebook, yes you can defend yourself there, but anonymity gives people the power to hurt and perhaps you should just ignore them, while realizing how many fans you have vs the small amount of negativity. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book and review it for my blog. It sounds like a wonderful story. (my favorites so far are Coast Road and Three Wishes). best regards, Rita_h

  12. Sandi Skeels on June 29, 2013 at 8:39 am

    I just finished Sweet Salt Air…awe~some~ness (is that a word?) What a page~turner…was so hard to put it down…..I started making myself slow down …I needed to know how it ends..but…I just wanted to savor it like a good piece of chocolate….What a read !!! I really felt like I was right there in Maine!!! Love Love LOVED it !!! It’s always worth the wait for your books…ALWAYS !! And I’m a re~reader of them…love having the pleasure of ..”oh…I love this book “feelings all over again. I must say the cover on your book ..I could frame…love looking at all that lavender…and can imagine it’s scent drifting by when the winds blow.

  13. Lisa Hund on June 29, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    I have read all of your books, and have loved every one. They have all been wonderful! If most of your critical responses are like the ones you mention above, I would not worry over them. These are the type of people who cant leave a good review about ANYthing. If only we were all as perfect as they are….
    Those types typically would scoff at your responses as excuses anyway, because they are not happy with anything, including themselves. That is where you would normally see this type of pettiness. I think responses to the ones you feel strongly about is good, it shows you are paying attention to your readers. I wouldn’t think twice about the nitpickers. Keep up the great work!

  14. Catherine on July 1, 2013 at 2:33 am

    I have read almost all of your books and have loved every one of them. I agree with Bettye above when she says not to pay attention to negative reviews on sites like Amazon – when I am considering a book by an author I haven’t yet read, I will look at the total star rating and read the positive reviews and a few of the mid-range reviews, but I find that often many of the negative reviewers seem to just be attention seeking. As if they could write as well!

    Please keep up the wonderful writing! I loved “Sweet Salt Air” (just finished it today) and I absolutely loved it! You took me right to Maine and right back to my New England roots! Regarding any typos, isn’t that the job of editing to catch? I’m not an author, but I do imagine that you aren’t the only one to read the book before publication, and particularly not the last one. And as far as the ocean sex… well anyone who has a problem with that needs to cut loose and have some fun!

  15. PHYLLIS LEVINE on July 1, 2013 at 6:02 pm


  16. Mariana on July 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Just found you and I agree….put your thoughts toward all those who adore your books and let the rest go. This was my first of yours and I just loved iT. Your authentic details about what I call “Cape” life is unreal. Anadama bread? You had me at hello!

  17. Nadine Huard on July 10, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Great book. Took me a week to read. So many Dr.’s appts. and family time But it was worth the wait. So wish I could be at Innsfree’s book signing. I try to get there or Bayswander when your there. I tried to send a pic taken of me at Hampton beach last week reading Sweet Salt Air but coildn’t get it to you.

  18. Peg Swearingen on July 10, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    I think you can absolutely respond to them on YOUR facebook page. Sometimes people just don’t understand and if you explain it, they will. To those who would stop reading you because of what they see as errors and don’t like your explanations, they will find something else to dislike and get them to stop reading.

    I appreciate your explanations. I used to be irritated by typos in books, but I believe you were one of the authors who explained the whole process of writing, editing, rewrites and so on and unfortunately, things get missed. They don’t bother me so much anymore.

    What I have a really hard time with is changing the character’s story. You have not done this, but another of my favorite authors did. He writes serial novels. There was a character who was fairly major.Her name is Marcy and she is a cop. In one book, Marcy is married and has a toddler. I distinctly remember this because the hero was comparing his toddler’s antics with Marcy’s child’s antics. In the next book, Marcy is not married and does not have a child. In fact, in one scene she is contemplating how she would like to resign and get married and have kids. And then she is involved in an ambush and gets killed. There have been several volumes in the series since then, but I have a harder time with the books. They are well written and humorous, but that still bugs me. HIS facebook page is very controlled. Fans cannot post comments out of the blue. You can only comment on something he posts.

    Someday, I’ll ask why he did that. I don’t think I’ll get an answer, though.

    Thank you for being so willing to explain and being so in touch with your fans. I can’t wait to read Sweet Salt Air!

  19. Nathan Webster on July 10, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    I don’t see any upside to engaging reviewers – and I say that as a top 500 Amazon reviewer.

    If they’re complaining about typos, they are probably petty and snarky and you’ll end up in an argument. If it’s grammer, then they’re likely know-it-all’s who will start giving you their dimestore advice. If they don’t like the story, they’ll tell you how it should have been done. Someone who wrote a review is already opinionated and probably a little full of themselves, so don’t give them an excuse to make you, personally, the direct target as opposed to the book.

    Even a good review shouldn’t get feedback, because then the reviewer might try to start some fanboy dialogue and then be offended when you’re like “dude, I just wanted to say thanks.” That’s what your blog is for.

    You had your say when you wrote the book, and now the readers who are motivated to offer their thoughts have their say. The two are totally different things, and there is no mutual relationship.

    Most customers on Amazon laugh and ignore bad or petty reviews anyway – but a defensive author looks much more ridiculous than any foolish reviewer, and once you get in that back-and-forth you lose control of how you’re percieved.

    • Barbara Delinsky on July 10, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      Wow. A different perspective. Much appreciated, Nathan Webster. Thank you!

  20. Donna on July 14, 2013 at 10:18 am

    You can’t please evryone. If you wrote/printed a book with no errors of any kind someone would find something wrong with it. Some folks just thrive on finding something wrong with things.

    I think on your Facebook page you have the right to comment on whatever you want….good or bad. As far as offending someone who might be a potential fan your writing speaks to that issue. You are a great writer, your research shows through on every story, your characters feel real and you leave us wanting more of you stories. If that doesn’t make someone a fan nothing will. Life is too short to let critcism cast a shadow on a piece of work you worked so hard to give us. For every negative comment you probably get 100 positive so keep on keeping on.

  21. Janice on July 22, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Oh my, you are such a great writer. I just ‘discovered’ you when I read ‘While my Sister Sleeps’. What a great novel. I so thoroughly enjoyed it. I am now in search of more of your books, and I see there are many!
    Thank you for sharing your creativity with the world. Gonna have to get my hands on Sweet Salt Air, if for no other reason that the ocean sex scene (been there, done that) =;)

  22. B on July 23, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Ignore negative

  23. Pamela Finkle on July 29, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Dear Barbara I have just finished reading Sweet Salt Air. Maybe because we have vacationed on the coast of Maine for thirty six years or perhaps it is because my daughter gave me this book as a gift while we spent a week together on Goose Rocks beach just out side of Kennebunkport, the book has really touched my heart. We started going to the Maine beaches when daughter Amy was six months old and now over thirty years later we go with grandchildren Jack and Madeline. Amy wanted to recreate those vacations she loved and I realize we are now the grandparents now that my dad is passed and my mom no longer can make the trip. your books are based on love of family even though that is not always easy. Thank you for the wonderful escape you provide and the many life lessons as well. I am truly an appreciative fan. Sincerely, Pamela Finkle

  24. Cindy Williams on August 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Just finished ‘Sweet Salt Air’, loved it. Being a life-long Oregonian, I love enjoying the East Coast through your books. Thanks!
    Cindy Williams

  25. Janet Inman on August 23, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    I loved your newest book, Sweet Salt Air! I found myself not wanting to put it down, but, also not wanting it to end. I think this would be a great book to write a continuing story with. I want to know how both couples are doing with their babies as well as Julian’s health.
    Are we going to get to see another one with these characters?

  26. BJ Sander on December 13, 2013 at 10:05 am

    At the age of 58 I am swimming through some rough waters. I came to Michigan to care for my Dad and my husband filed for divorce. Your books have been a life preserver for me. Instead of taking medication to help me get through this period of my life I am reading every opportunity I can find and I am devouring your books one by one. I hope that you read this and feel the emotions and deep felt sincerity behind my words…I wish that I could give you a hug and thank you.

    • Barbara Delinsky on December 14, 2013 at 10:49 am

      I just read this, BJ, and am deeply touched. I’m so glad my books have taken you away. This is why I write!

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