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To read reviews or not...

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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

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Donnie Marsh

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If I'm posting this in the wrong forum, feel free to move it.

I have a somewhat famous, major-house-published acquaintance. I wouldn't call her a friend, but she touches base enough that I'm comfortable asking her questions. I contacted her a few months back to ask if I may quote her and we've been emailing since.
Well she's read my book due out in a little over a week and she said I'm going to get ripped apart in reviews, much like she has. It seems people like to make things personal, to attack the author, rather than honestly critique the book. I guess it's their right: they paid money for your book.

So, to those that have been published in any medium, major or self, how do you go about reviews of your work? Asking if you read them seems rhetorical. My plan is to avoid reading anything under three stars until I've had a chance to grasp the reality that people are willing to slam me with two- and one-star reviews. I don't know how well I'll be able to stick to that plan. But I'm also not into this to get my feelings hurt.

Any suggestions? Maybe have someone I trust forward reviews? Don't get me wrong; I do appreciate criticism and I understand not everyone that pays for the book is going to call it The Next Best Memoir. I imagine like everyone that sees their work in print will be eager to pay attention to reviews, sales rankings et cetera. But I'm looking for suggestions on the process, coping with the good and the bad.

Thanks!
 

little_e

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Well, I've never had a book published, and no one's ever reviewed my work. But I'm in a readers' community and like reading reviews for books I'm planning on reading, so I'm familiar with the kinds of things people tend to say about books. Some people, I've noticed, hate everything. They have blogs devoted to how much they hate every book they've ever read. I think these people have issues; other people think they're awesome. Eh.

You're under absolutely zero obligation to read any reviews. You certainly aren't obliged to read any bad ones. If, for some reason, you want to read a bad one, or happen to read a bad one, the best I can recommend is that you glance at all of the other bad reviews other folks have left for other books--some of them fantastic, fabulous books--and remember that some people hate everything.

Anyway, congratulations!
 

J.S.F.

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The question is, do you read book reviews in the nude?

Hey, this was on another thread and you asked!

:D

Okay, seriously, the way I figure it, there's always someone who isn't going to like what you've written. Just the law of averages. For my first novel, I got one bad review and the others were good. To be fair, I didn't know what in the hell I was doing back then and I'd like to think I've learned a bit more by now. However, the story was so strong that a lot of readers forgave the mistakes.

My take on it all is this: Are you going to let one bad review (or more) stop you from writing? You shouldn't. If ALL the reviews are bad then you should think about what you're doing, but if only a couple are sucky and the rest are reasonably good then it means you're doing something right. Just learn how to take the bad with the good and keep writing.
 

Donnie Marsh

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Thanks so far, guys.
It's not the writing I'm worried about. As she put it, "People have a hard time with difficult truths, especially the ones you shared."
As for not writing anymore? Never. I love writing and wouldn't give it up for anything or because of anyone.
 

mccardey

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Thanks so far, guys.
It's not the writing I'm worried about. As she put it, "People have a hard time with difficult truths, especially the ones you shared."
As for not writing anymore? Never. I love writing and wouldn't give it up for anything or because of anyone.

You're writing memoir, aren't you? That has its own challenges regarding reviews I would think. But the standard advice is reviews are for readers - not writers. And you certainly don't have to read them.

BTW - you know not to reply to reviews, don't you? It's generally known as the Author's Big Mistake. If you search, you'll find salutary threads all over the web about public review meltdowns. I believe there are one or two mentioned on these very boards....
 

Chris P

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I've not garnered any reviews from people I don't know, so it's hard to say what I would do. And no, I didn't ask them to review it; they did it on their own.

But no, I don't go looking for reviews, and I hope to have a "fire and forget" approach; work on my next stuff and let the reviews worry about themselves. That's all well and good, but let's see what happens when actual reviews start coming in.
 

Donnie Marsh

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You're writing memoir, aren't you? That has its own challenges regarding reviews I would think. But the standard advice is reviews are for readers - not writers. And you certainly don't have to read them.

BTW - you know not to reply to reviews, don't you? It's generally known as the Author's Big Mistake. If you search, you'll find salutary threads all over the web about public review meltdowns. I believe there are one or two mentioned on these very boards....

Oh yeah. Believe me, I've been warned on this.



I've not garnered any reviews from people I don't know, so it's hard to say what I would do. And no, I didn't ask them to review it; they did it on their own.

But no, I don't go looking for reviews, and I hope to have a "fire and forget" approach; work on my next stuff and let the reviews worry about themselves. That's all well and good, but let's see what happens when actual reviews start coming in.

Thank you for this.


After I posted, "It's not the writing I'm worried about..." I got to thinking that sounded pretty arrogant. I'm not the best writer, nor the worst. My point was not everyone will enjoy my style and I'm ok with someone pointing that out in a review. If I failed to engage with my style, then I failed to engage. Nothing I can do about that.
 

VoireyLinger

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I read all reviews and I absolutely go looking for them. I believe in most cases, reviews can point to things which can help me craft better stories. I know I won't be to everyone's taste, but if there is a kernel of information in a review that points to something I can improve, that negative review is a positive thing.

I'll also admit to bookmarking the five star reviews so I can go back and read them when the feelings of inadequacy hit. Ego stroking isn't a bad thing. It's a reminder I'm doing things right when i don't always feel up to the task.

I think reading or not reading a review is very dependent on how personally you tend to take things. I'm very good at compartmentalizing, separating my emotions from crits, and at seeing my manuscript through the eyes of others. If I took crits more personally, I probably wouldn't look at reviews unless someone vetted them for me first.
 

Bufty

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I suspect unfavourable reviews won't bother you in the least.

After all, the bad ones only come from folk who don't appreciate ... whatever. ;)
 

kkbe

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People read our stuff. Their reading experience is unique to them. They may have opinions about what they've read. They may decide to share those opinions.

C'est la vie. :)
 

Susan Coffin

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The quick answer is not to read the reviews. Really, why would you want to? Opinions are a penny a dozen and everyone has one.

Besides this, if you think your book really is "one or two" stars then you are not ready to publish.
 

ishtar'sgate

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I read them all, when I can find them. There are a few on amazon but most of my reviews have come from a variety of online sites and personal snail mail and emails. How they get either address I have no idea but maybe my publisher releases them.

Don't worry about it. Some people will like what you write and some people won't. Some will be kind and some will be cruel. I try to absorb all criticism and give it serious thought. Some is frivolous and some just plain ignorant but some is justified and has helped me to correct my current wip.
 

KTC

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I read all my reviews. I never comment on them...and I don't intend to start. I've been lucky thus far. *knock on wood* (-:
 

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You read them and take what helps you as a writer, and reject what hurts you as a writer. Remember what you loved about the book from conception through completion and carry that through all reviews.
 

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Is this anything like the millionaire who complains about the problems his money has brought him? To which I reply. "I'll switch places any time you'd like."

Now, when I have my first story or first book published, I'll dang sure read the reviews. They might see something others missed and that can only help me as a writer.
 

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I read my reviews. It can be annoying, but there is also value in negative reviews (unless they are just malicious). I don't worry too much if most of the reviews are positive, but I think its important in self evaluation to understand what other people think - and then either ignore it or learn from it.
 

Emma Clark

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I read the reviews of my first ebook (under a new pseudonym). They seemed okay, so now I'm comfortable enough to never read anymore of my reviews. Unless I get a really great one on a blog or site, and the reviewer contacts me.

It's better not to read them. Before I read mine, I was going full-speed ahead writing 1500 + words per day. After reading my first few less-than-stellar reviews on GR, my productivity took a nosedive. Otherwise, I would've already had my second ebook out (maybe even a third!). I've never been this slow to get my writing finished or edited.

Never.

No more reading reviews for me. And those 2-star and 1-star reviews were actually quite helpful, and there was nothing written that I disagreed with.

So I guess it's kind of a subconscious reaction. IDK.

For the record, so far about 73% of Goodreaders "like" my book. One woman even added it to her "favorites" shelf, which made me very happy. :)

On a side note, I think my very first GR review was 2 stars. I almost died... tried to subdue my panic and think good thoughts. But at first I thought for sure my book would TANK. :ROFL: Not because of the review, but because my book must be pretty sucky. I didn't think it was; though it's a short read that focuses much more on smex than any actual plot.

Then my very first review on Amazon was 5 stars! And she turned out to be a goodreader as well, and had posted her review on there too.
 

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I used to read reviews of GUD magazine when we needed pullquotes for the next issue. Otherwise, why bother? Reviews are not for the author.
 

Snowstorm

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I'm not published, but on August 22 my first novel will debut. During the years I've been on AW, I pay great heed to the brain trust on AW. On their advice, I'm not in the least interested in reading reviews other than those that I've requested.

As far as using reviews to better my writing and my stories, my beta readers (in the local area, my publishing editor, and a few here on AW) are readers and writers whose opinions I value and trust. From these folks I'm learning what quirks/errors I commit and areas I need to improve upon.
 

mccardey

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As far as using reviews to better my writing and my stories, my beta readers (in the local area, my publishing editor, and a few here on AW) are readers and writers whose opinions I value and trust. From these folks I'm learning what quirks/errors I commit and areas I need to improve upon.

Yes, this. Reviewers have a different focus and are entitled to have it. But once the book is written and out there, I think it's time to get on with the next one.

(Actually, once the book is written and out there I think it's time to have a couple of drinks, spend a few weeks in the garden, perhaps go and live in a village in France for a year - and procrastinate, procrastinate, procrastinate. But that's all part of the process, no? ;) )
 
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Donnie Marsh

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Yes, this. Reviewers have a different focus and are entitled to have it. But once the book is written and out there, I think it's time to get on with the next one.

(Actually, once the book is written and out there I think it's time to have a couple of drinks, spend a few weeks in the garden, perhaps go and live in a village in France for a year - and procrastinate, procrastinate, procrastinate. But that's all part of the process, no? ;) )

Clever!


(But I've already visited the blog. :D I love France and hope to visit someday. ;) )
 

mccardey

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Don't mind me - I'm just a show-off. ;)
 

rwm4768

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It's up to you and how thick a skin you have. Mostly, if you do read them, you need to remember that some people just hate a book for whatever reason. However, if you do notice a consistent negative reaction to your work, that might be something to improve in subsequent projects.
 
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