A lot of authors struggle with whether they should read their reviews. Some authors read them, and the results are far from great. Other authors avoid reading any reviews, and suffer from a lack of feedback-based improvement.
So…What should you do? Is there a middle ground?
Personally, I think that reading at least some is a good way to gauge what your audience is liking and what could be improved upon. I don’t like the idea of having no clue what’s going on with my readers, so I read mine.
I think every type of review can be helpful in its own way, so let’s take a look at them individually.
Positive reviews are uplifting and I love to see that my book has made people happy, inspired them, made them laugh, or shocked them. Positive reviews can be truly heart-warming and rewarding to read, and even reassuring when I find myself in doubt.
Reviews like these can really brighten up a day, and make me appreciate my readers all the more! If you’ve left a review of OUTLIERS, you have a special place in my heart 🙂
But, negative reviews can also be useful. There are essentially two kinds of negative reviews, which I like to call Constructive and Cursing. And, while sometimes tougher to read at first than a positive review, I do still appreciate them.
Constructive negative reviews give their feedback in a polite manner, and provide a reasonable account of what didn’t work for them or what they felt was wrong. These can be helpful, because while not every word should be hung onto for a guide to improvement, sometimes you can get a better idea of what to work on for the future or who your audience is.
If the person reviewing says they typically only read contemporary or romance, and they weren’t a fan of how gorey your science fiction book was, you can understand that not everyone can be your audience – people are going to dislike your book for reasons that have nothing to do with you as a writer. That’s okay. Everybody has different preferences, so no matter what, not everybody will like your book.
Cursing negative reviews aren’t pleasant to read, and they don’t point out things that will help you improve. They curse, use all caps, talk about what a trash human being you must be, say that your book is the worst thing on the planet and probably caused global warming, or they might even make threats.
How on earth could these reviews be useful?
These reviews remind us that no matter how great your works are, there are always people that will try to bring hate into your life. Some people seek out to hurt, or can’t see any merit in things that they don’t personally enjoy. These reviews help us remember that sometimes a bad review isn’t even about your book (or at least not completely). Sometimes people write nasty things because of their own personal issues, but that says more about them than your writing.
In general, I think reading your reviews can be a good thing. It’s healthy to read both positive and negative, I think, because it brings balance Reading only positive, you might end up thinking your the greatest writer in the world, and never strive to improve. Reading only negative might be overwhelming or discouraging, and have you curled up in a ball, eating ice-cream in the dark.
By reading both types of reviews, you get a rounder, more accurate picture of how readers are reacting to your work (not to mention, that often what somebody rants about in a negative review, somebody else might rave about in a five star review).
Every author is different, and handles feedback differently, but I personally see a lot of merit in reading reviews.
It also matters how you react to reviews, and how mature you are as a person. Learning how to cope with reviews before reading them can make all the difference in preventing you from making a mistake or getting super down on yourself. I’ll be talking about dealing with negative reviews next week, so be sure to stay tuned!
Do you read your reviews? Why or why not?
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Want to check out the reviews for OUTLIERS? Click here!
With all of that in mind, go out and write your masterpiece!