Authors want readers to love their books, and reviews are one indicator of how a book has been received. But reviews can also mess with a writer’s mind. Many authors avoid looking at them as a means of self-defense.
Glowing reviews aren’t the problem, of course. They may make a writer feel over-confident or smug, but a little appreciation can also be a boost to a previously wounded ego. Self-doubt is the enemy of creativity. A few kind words can keep an insecure writer from quitting.
The less-than-glowing reviews are the reason authors shy away. When a criticism is deserved, most of us will admit we’re imperfect. But not all the comments are fair or even accurate. Readers’ reactions to characters and plots are subjective. One woman may hate the heroine. Her husband may find the same character charming. One reader may consider a secondary player’s language offensive, another won’t be fazed. What is graphic and disgusting to a few is accepted as part of the genre to others.
The publishing industry considers reviews significant. The current philosophy is: the more the better. A large number of reviews indicates readers are engaged and makes a book’s publisher happy. In the last few years, reviews have become a measure of success.
So I appreciate every review, whether complimentary or derogatory, even though I’m reluctant to read them.
The reality of publishing is: not everyone will like every book. And I’m okay with that. I don’t rave about everything I read, either. But writing is a difficult occupation with an ample supply of rejections and reasons to get depressed. Bad reviews can bring on writer’s block, so I’m not going to indulge my curiosity. I have a new manuscript I’m trying to finish.
On the other hand, I like to have a dialogue with readers. If you want to comment on my book, email me at Kathleen (the @ sign) kathleenmix dot com.