Reviews: To Read or Not to Read
I read endless reviews of books and the bad ones can be truly frightening, especially the ones in The New York Times. Imagine you and your work mercilessly vivisected by another writer? The scathing reviews in The Times book section makes even the harshest reviews on Amazon seem like child’s play.
While only a few lucky authors will be reviewed there, most all will be reviewed online by readers. The question for me became: should I read my book’s reviews? I looked online for published authors addressing the issue.
What I found was an interesting debate that spread across the web about author’s, readers, and reviews.
Many writers don’t read them. Other’s think they’re valuable feedback. One author who responds to negative reviews with tweets prompted a debate between her and some readers over whether reviews are “reader’s space.”
I decided not to read my reviews, but this was before I was published. I asked my sister to read them but as they piled up I found I could not resist a peek. After reading many positive and a few negative ones I felt a lot better.
Reader reviews are unique, filled with emotion, and very unlike a critical review. People come to gush they love my book or say they hated it. To me the reviews are clearly written for other readers so when a reader says, “I just couldn’t get into it” that doesn’t bother me. My book can’t be for everyone.
But then there are those sweet reviews from readers moved by my story. They talk about how they want to hug me, or how the book changed them, or how the story haunts them; those reviews are treasures. Those are the kind of reviews that make all the toil of creating a book worthwhile. I’m glad I read them.