"People ask you for criticism, but they only want praise."
W. Somerset Maugham
Reading reviews should depend on who you are as a writer. Are you supremely confident or a little fragile when it comes to sharing your work with the world? At Wordeee, we are generally of the opinion that authors should not read their book reviews and if they do, should do so in moderation.
Primarily, reviews are for readers, not authors. With nearly 8 billion people on the planet, it is likely to get as many reviews with as many points of view if everyone reads your book. Don’t you wish!
What an author must understand is that people read books through their own lens and not through yours. If someone has a shared experience with the things you write about, they may gravitate to your book on fencing more than someone who has zero interest in fencing. One is likely to give the book a good review, and the other is likely to say the book was boring and not relatable. What does that say about your book? Nada, niente, nothing more than people's opinion.
As an author, your writing may be trying to convey one thing yet a reviewer or reader may find an entirely different meaning in your work. The thing is, once you put your book is out in the world it belongs to the reader and as such, you have to roll with the punches or the praises. Treat each imposter just the same.
If you are the author, who reads every review, at dizzying speed, you might find yourself in a funk. Whether the review is good, bad, or just downright ugly…should be none of your business. In the words of P.T. Barnum, "There's no such thing as bad publicity," which is almost as good as this quote by Oscar Wilde, "There's only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."
The thing is, book reviews are necessary and can be beneficial or detrimental to authors. A good review can help book sales, bring you to the attention of the media, and possibly entice reluctant booksellers to take a risk on your work. Booksellers want assurances that their inventory will sell. One may think only good reviews sell books but that is wrong. Controversy sells books. Bad reviews for the wrong reasons can sell books. Think of all the fury around banned books. Bookstores and libraries, in defiance, have caused these book sales to soar.
If you are a new author, we suggest you armor up and read a few reviews. Readers can give insights that might improve your craft and hone in on your niche. Understanding your tribe can be beneficial in many ways. If you are a seasoned writer, you can skip the reviews section altogether. No matter what James Patterson writes, if he writes it, it will be read.
If you are an author who is sensitive to any form of criticism, constructive or negative, DO NOT READ REVIEWS. It will only dampen your enthusiasm for your work, thus not giving your work the best opportunity to continue to find its audience. If you withdraw support for your book, your book’s fate is determined by you, not the reader. Stick to your convictions. Write your best work the way you see it! Falling into the emotional trap triggered by bad reviews is draining so DO NOT READ REVIEWS.
If you are on deadline for your next book. DO NOT READ REVIEWS…they are only a distraction.
Every single book on earth gets bad reviews. Particularly haranguing can be the 1-star reviewers who are just plain evil. You just have to learn to ignore them. We bet you any money that in their minds they have failed in life. They have to take it out on somebody…why not you?
Here is an example: One of the bestselling books on earth and in Hogwarts, selling nearly 7 million copies, got 100,000 bad reviews.
So as an author, focus on your craft, learn how to let things roll off your back like water on a duck's back (NEVER USE CLICHÉ's), and most of all, have supreme confidence in your ability as a writer…your tribe will find you. We know how hard it is when you have spent months and years on your art, and how hurtful it can be when someone callously dismisses your work. If you need validation, then once in a while when you read your reviews, focus only on the positive ones.
Our best advice…IGNORE REVIEWS.
If you must, and if what you read is a bad review, remember to:
1. Not to take it personally
2. Try to understand what it's telling you
3. Never respond
4. View it as an opportunity to grow.