Last week I talked about criticism and how I handle it. I had a follow up question from Jeannie on Facebook to answer this week…
How do you evaluate the criticism after a book is released and reviews are written. For example, you are writing a series and you get some criticism that might effect how you write the next book or has that ever happened? I’m sure you have spoke with other authors when you embarked on this career. What did they tell you about evaluating reviews and/or harsh criticism?
Well, this first piece of advice almost every author will get in regard to reviews is not to read them. The second piece of advice is not to engage.
I know not everyone will love my books. There are some people who don’t read romance, some who don’t like contemporary, some who don’t like steamy, and countless others who won’t like something else. That’s okay.
The hard part is when someone who dislikes a fundamental part of my book leaves a review saying the book was horrible because they don’t read that type. Has it happened to me? I honestly don’t know. I try hard not to read reviews.
I’ve read some of my reviews. I’ve read good reviews that made me smile, good reviews that still bothered me, and bad reviews that have made it hard for me to write for days.
I don’t read my reviews.
Chubby & Charming has over 200 reviews on Goodreads. I have read about three of them.
What I do is listen to my fans who take the time to email me. This email is from Leonora…
I absolutely LOVED Chubby and Charming. I couldn’t put it down. I started reading it on a plane and my phone died 30 minutes before we landed. It was the longest 30 minutes ever! Plugged in as soon as I could to start reading again. I’m normally a graphic novel reader so this was my first ‘book book’ in years and it’s got me back into reading ‘proper’ books again so, thank you!
I have no idea if she left a review anywhere. The email she sent me matters a whole lot more to me than a review!
Reviews are for other readers, in my opinion. They are intended to help other readers decide if a book is something that will interest them. If someone wants to tell me something, they’ll email me. Those I will listen to. I’ve had readers ask why I did something. I had readers tell me they didn’t like a certain book. I had readers tell me they loved a certain book (in some cases, the same one).
Does it mold how I write?
That’s a lot harder to answer.
I want readers to love my books. Especially readers that have read all my books. But I can’t make everyone happy. Some books will push one person in a way they don’t push someone else. Some books will make one person look deeper inside themselves and be pure entertainment to others. Some books will reveal something a reader doesn’t want to see.
I can’t make everyone happy. No matter how hard I try. If I did try, I’d never write another word! It would be paralyzing.
I guess what I’d say is yes, I do think about what my readers want. I do think about what people have said to me about my books. I do ask for reader input on certain things. But I also tell the story that has to be told.
Thanks so much, Jeannie, for your question! If you have a question, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!