On Reviews

When I had my first book published in 2011, I was prepared for bad reviews.  Books are like anything else, everyone has different tastes. On Goodreads, there are over 21,000 1-star reviews posted for To Kill A Mockingbird, one of my all-time favorites. (I admit to reading some just to make myself feel better.) There are even people out there in the world who don’t like chocolate, so I can’t expect everyone to like my book. I’m fine with that. I have faith that over time the right readers will find me and people who don’t enjoy my work will find authors they do like.

A well-written critical review can give readers as much or more valuable information about a book than a glowing, best-thing-since-sliced-bread review.  But there were many things about reviews I didn’t expect. For one, the pleasure and vehemence some people express when trashing a book is one of those things.  Another is the fact that people will buy a book without reading the book description and then blame the author when it isn’t exactly what they wanted. I can’t even comment on those that post reviews with so many incorrect details it’s clear they haven’t read it. Lastly, if you feel a book is wasting your time, why would you continue to read it? There are zillions of published books out there, truly something for everyone. Time is valuable. Read something else. Personally, I try to give a book 3 chapters. If it hasn’t hooked me by then, I move on. No harm, no foul.

All of these things perplex me, but the bottom line is that I’m trying to swear off reading bad reviews. Negativity bogs down my creativity and productivity. It’s hard, though. Reviews are like crack for writers. They’re scabs that beg to be picked. We MUST KNOW what every single person on the face of the earth thinks of our work.

The good reviews, the people who truly love what we’ve written, the readers who email us asking when our next book is coming out because they can’t wait to read it, those are the moments that make writers swoon. But how does an author resist reading negative reviews?

Readers, do reviews influence your buying decisions? Writers, do you read the reviews of you books? If not, how do you resist?

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4 responses to “On Reviews

  1. Reviews have become such a volatile thing. It has truly sadden me to see the mean, snarky, and sometimes rage against the author in reviews. I havent figured out if some think its funny to tear down a book or author in such a mean way on Goodreads or Amazon or if they just have that much hatred in their hearts.

    I take reviews with a grain of salt. I just read a book that had 200 5 star reviews and I didnt like it. And I have purposely read some books that got bad ratings and really liked the book.

    For me what really sells a book is the synopsis/summary of the book.

    Keep your head up and dont let any negative reviews mess with your creativity and productivity because I am patiently waiting for your next book :)

  2. Thanks, Cindy. I try to have faith that most readers can separate the truly critical reviews from the angry, out-of-perspective ones. Readers are smart.

  3. Book trashers in general seem to want to write themselves, but all they can manage is a little review of somebody else’s hard work. A good review may also be written by someone who wants to “be nice”. Take all reviews with a grain of salt…btw, this was an excellent post….

  4. Thanks, Irene. Grain of salt, always good advice.

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