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BethS

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But I'm looking for suggestions on the process, coping with the good and the bad.

Thanks!

I know a multi-publishing best-selling author who never reads reviews, particularly Amazon reviews. That way lies madness, she says.
 

Barbara R.

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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....

Do you think that applies to good reviews? I always thought writers should be read and not heard, but a marketing guru at Viking told me that I should occasionally reach out and thank people who leave particularly good reviews on Goodreads or Twitter. I thought they might find even a "thank you" creepy, as if I'd been peering over their shoulder, but she insisted that readers are excited about being contacted by a favorite writer. She says that even though she works in publishing, it makes her day when a writer she admires reaches out.

What do you all think?
 

Barbara R.

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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!

I definitely read reviews, and occasionally I learn from them...especially the criticisms. One reader recently asked me why so many of the characters in A DANGEROUS FICTION are exceptionally good-looking; and while I did have an answer that related to the plot, I also smacked myself upside the head to remind myself to watch it.

Reading the good reviews is delightful and can also teach you something. Writers don't always see their own work clearly; we're too deep inside it. I actually had a huge insight into my own book based on my editor's description of it. She enunciated a theme that was certainly present in the book, important even, but had not yet risen to the level of consciousness for me.

Occasionally you read something really clueless, but so what?It's their cluelessness, not yours.
 

Spell-it-out

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I read every one, but then again, I don't have that many.

Me too!

I was doing well with reviews on Amazon and Goodreads until recently, when someone gave me a one-star. They commented a little, but with no detail on why they disliked the book. I was sickened, wished I never read any reviews.

But then, I re-read the few four and five-star reviews I have, and immediately felt better. Also, my favorite book ATM, Cloud Atlas, has 118 one-star reviews. I remember that I'm 117 ahead of that :D (Disregard that I'm about 700 five-star reviews behind as well :) )
 

davidh219

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Not been published yet, but I'd like to think I'll read reviews when I am. At least the first page of them on goodreads or something, to get a general sense. I don't have the thickest skin out there. I'd probably be devastated to find out that everybody hates my book. But also I realize that some books just don't work for some people. If one out of four reviews is bad, meh. If half of them are bad, then maybe I should listen to what they have to say.

I'll never forget looking at the first page reviews on goodreads of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. That book made me cry and it made me feel like a kid again. And here there were people giving it two stars!? Not many, but still, where they sick in the head or something? I just didn't get it, and I still don't, but I accept it as a fact of life.
 

WormHeart

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I read them all.

In the Danish market I have 7 novels out, a handfull of short stories and I am moving in on the English market with another handfull of short stories.

I have been fortunate that most are good or at least average, but I did get ripped to shreds in one online fanzine.

And the clever bastard wrote it in a funny way too. :)

It was not a particular comfortable feeling, but at that time I also had some good reviews, so it didn't hurt too bad.

I've grown thicker skin since then. You have to as a writer.

I don't see the logic in not reading reviews - how do you know how your story is received, if you do not read reviews?

Remember - no book get only good reviews, if it is read by any number of people. Only want good reviews? Only let your mother read it.

WormHeart
 

Mclesh

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I read them. Luckily, they've been mostly favorable, but I have come across a couple that left me feeling like I'd been punched. That's what I get for reading the reviews though. Then I pull up my big girl pants and move on. For me, the feedback lets me know whether I'm on the right track with my writing.

A common theme in this thread is: not everyone will appreciate your work. Opinions vary. If you are particularly sensitive to criticism, then maybe have someone else pre-read your reviews.

A note on the memoir aspect: I haven't experienced the negative review yet. I'm sure it's out there, and I may have to walk away from the computer for a while when that happens. (Maybe I'll cry too. Depends on the day.) :)
 

Donnie Marsh

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I read them. Luckily, they've been mostly favorable, but I have come across a couple that left me feeling like I'd been punched. That's what I get for reading the reviews though. Then I pull up my big girl pants and move on. For me, the feedback lets me know whether I'm on the right track with my writing.

A common theme in this thread is: not everyone will appreciate your work. Opinions vary. If you are particularly sensitive to criticism, then maybe have someone else pre-read your reviews.

A note on the memoir aspect: I haven't experienced the negative review yet. I'm sure it's out there, and I may have to walk away from the computer for a while when that happens. (Maybe I'll cry too. Depends on the day.) :)

Speaking of, I added it to my to-read and plan on doing so!
 

SharonPartington

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I had one bad review that kind of knocked the wind out of my sails for awhile, but I'm still here, and I'm still writing.

I do read them, mostly out of perverse curiosity. I know it's bad form, but I'll usually send along a private "thank you for your time" even if the review is less than stellar.
 

Mclesh

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Speaking of, I added it to my to-read and plan on doing so!

Uh-oh. :tongue

Thank you, Donnie. I appreciate it. :Hug2:

SharonPartington: I think "perverse curiosity" is a good description. Sending a thank you I don't consider bad form. I've sent thank yous to a few people on Goodreads when they've taken the time to post a review. I've gotten some very nice notes back. (I don't do this a lot--usually when someone has particularly connected with my writing and has written something heartfelt.) I think if it feels right, it's a nice way to connect with readers.
 

Buffysquirrel

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When I write a review, I don't view it as an invitation to the author to 'connect' with me, and I don't think they should either. Reviews are for other readers.
 

Alpha Echo

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This may sound silly, but bear with me.

I look at it like this - can you handle a bad review or will it bring you down and discourage you?

I look at it in the same light I look at stepping on the scale. I'm recovering from anorexia/bulimia (well, pretty much in full recovery now), but the idea of stepping on a scale and seeing that number and knowing that number will be more than what it was when I had the body of a little boy rather than a woman's body...I know that will crush me and may very well send me back to restricting my calorie intake.

So I don't step on the scale.

I go by how I feel - my energy, how my clothes fit, my strength, etc.

If you can read a bad review and find the words that might be helpful and constructive within, then read them. If you can read a one star review and let it motivate you rather than harm you, than read it.

But if it's going to trigger bad emotions, don't.
 

cornflake

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

The language you use here is interesting.

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.

To begin with, I'm not sure what you mean but that you use the words 'honestly' and 'attack' give me an idea. Why would those reviews not be honest? Because they say things about the author's abilities? Also, if you're publishing a memoir, yes, reviewers will discuss the author's life, it's inextricably linked. In any book, a reviewer discussing the author's style, viewpoint, ability, tone, whatever, aren't attacks.

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. People are willing to slam you? This too reads as if it's a personal vendetta. Maybe someone giving a one- or two-star review just doesn't like the book and is sharing his or her honest opinion for other potential readers, not being "willing to slam" you. 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. How defensive. They're not in it to hurt your feelings. It's not personal.

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!

The level of defensiveness before anything has happened and the way you're already imagining every bad review as a personal slam by someone who is "willing to," seemingly do something to you does not bode well for your feelings.

Step back. Way back. Try to approach from an entirely different place, like one of gratitude that someone spent money and time on reading what you wrote - because they have other stuff to do and a zillion other choices for their time and money.
 

bulldoggerel

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If I get published I think I'll read any reviews I come across- though I won't go looking for them.
In my life I have not taken much heart from people telling me when I have done something well, so I don't think anyone's criticism will bother much either.
At the end of the day I find the half of the people who don't like me, don't like me for the same reasons the other half like me for....
 

Donnie Marsh

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The level of defensiveness before anything has happened and the way you're already imagining every bad review as a personal slam by someone who is "willing to," seemingly do something to you does not bode well for your feelings.

Step back. Way back. Try to approach from an entirely different place, like one of gratitude that someone spent money and time on reading what you wrote - because they have other stuff to do and a zillion other choices for their time and money.

Well said! Thank you!
 

Snowstorm

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The level of defensiveness before anything has happened and the way you're already imagining every bad review as a personal slam by someone who is "willing to," seemingly do something to you does not bode well for your feelings.

Step back. Way back. Try to approach from an entirely different place, like one of gratitude that someone spent money and time on reading what you wrote - because they have other stuff to do and a zillion other choices for their time and money.

QFT!
 

ravenmuse

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I'll never forget looking at the first page reviews on goodreads of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. That book made me cry and it made me feel like a kid again. And here there were people giving it two stars!? Not many, but still, where they sick in the head or something? I just didn't get it, and I still don't, but I accept it as a fact of life.

Exactly. I've seen one star reviews on books I've really connected with. I've seen five star reviews on books so dreary I had a hard time finishing them. Maybe we should just shrug and be grateful that we are all individuals.
 

Gary Clarke

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The level of defensiveness before anything has happened and the way you're already imagining every bad review as a personal slam by someone who is "willing to," seemingly do something to you does not bode well for your feelings.

Step back. Way back. Try to approach from an entirely different place, like one of gratitude that someone spent money and time on reading what you wrote - because they have other stuff to do and a zillion other choices for their time and money.

This.

Just for the record, it's my advice to never read reviews. I tell this to my writing students, in my opinion the all-too-often forwarded advice that you can learn from reviews is damaging and should be ignored. Last year, after yet another author melt down, I even did a wee blog on it.
 
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Donnie Marsh

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cornflake

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Exactly. I've seen one star reviews on books I've really connected with. I've seen five star reviews on books so dreary I had a hard time finishing them. Maybe we should just shrug and be grateful that we are all individuals.

This too. People love Forrest Gump; it won Best Picture (over Pulp Fiction and the Shawshank Redemption). I can't stand that sappy, ridiculous, anvilicious, celebration-of-the-magical-mentally-retarded dreck. :Shrug: People like what they like. People like country music. I will never understand that, but they do and they may not ever understand why I like what I do. I say again, :Shrug:
 

Barbara R.

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Step back. Way back. Try to approach from an entirely different place, like one of gratitude that someone spent money and time on reading what you wrote - because they have other stuff to do and a zillion other choices for their time and money.

Yes to this! If you spend any time at all on Goodreads, you'll encounter writers, mostly self-published, who regard five-star reviews as their right, and anything less than that as a personal attack. WTF?! Readers owe us nothing; the world owes us nothing. We write books because we want to, not because the world fell to its knees and begged us to.

This.

Just for the record, it's my advice to never read reviews. I tell this to my writing students, in my opinion the all-too-often forwarded advice that you can learn from reviews is damaging and should be ignored. Last year, after yet another author melt down, I even did a wee blog on it.

That's fine if you don't want to and have never learned from a review, but why deny that others can and do? There are, for example, certain cliches that have been scourged from my reportoire after a critic zeroed in on them. I teach writing, too, which necessarily involves critiquing student work. Not always easy; but every writer who wants to grow needs to toughen up enough to distinguish good criticism from bad and to learn from the good.
 

mccardey

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Do you think that applies to good reviews?

I should have been clearer - I was referring more to the kind of reviews the OP's friend was warning about: very negative ones.
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.
(Also, I was thinking of reviews by literary magazine critics, rather than general readers. Sorry if I confused things. I'm pathetically out of touch with all things internet.)
 
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