This week we’re talking about how I feel about bad reviews. Lupita asked…
Do you take bad reviews personally and let it affect you or do you simply take it with a grain of salt?
I think it’s hard not to take bad reviews personally. Many authors don’t read their reviews and early advice to authors is not to read them. I learned quickly that i can’t handle reading a review that destroys my book.
I mean, really, how many jobs allow anyone in the world to openly criticize what you do and have zero consequence?
As I said before, bullying in accepted when it’s disguised as a review. I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t think anyone should think it’s fair. But it happens.
If a review is bad because the book is bad, it hurts. It bothers me to read that my books have editing errors (funnily enough, I misspelled both those words!). Editing errors I can, and have, fixed. If the fundamental storyline is just boring, I can’t necessarily fix it, but it’s good to know. If the characters are frustrating, again, good to know.
But when a review goes on to say nasty things about me and assumes to know who I am, that’s going to just make me mad. I’ve read reviews (thankfully not on my books) that have attacked the author for one thing or another. I don’t know if these people know the author, or if they just think they know something, or saw something online, but I don’t think a book review is the place for that. A book review should be a review of the book, not the person who wrote the book.
Let’s face it, if we were evaluating the person, horror books would be blasted on a regular occasion. I mean, really, if you thought everything Stephen King put in his book was his true desire, he’d be locked up somewhere. Books are stories, not reflections of the author.
But it’s still hard to walk away from a bad review without being upset by it. I want people to like my books. There are times I put things in my books knowing people won’t like it, but I know that’s the way the story has to be. Those things don’t bother me as much. Those I can take with a grain of salt.
The ones I can fix, like errors of any sort, I will correct and put the book back out.
A really bad review will ruin my day. It’ll make me question everything I write in the next book. It’ll make me question if I should be writing at all.
I love my job, but my job is dependent on finding readers. If readers hate what I write, I shouldn’t be writing.
Thankfully, my reviews overall are more positive than negative. I have emails from readers who’ve reached out to me because they loved my books so much. When I read a review that upsets me, I go through the emails I’ve save and read those. It makes me feel better, and gives me that spark to keep going.
And somehow, whenever I read a review that’s not that great, I always seem to get a new email from a reader who says she loved my book and can’t wait for the next one. That makes me forget about that bad review. And I love it!
Thanks so much, Lupita, for all your questions! It was a lot of fun to really think about reviews. No, I didn’t read any new ones of mine over the last few weeks, but it made me think about reviews, and I needed that!
If you have a question, about writing or anything else, 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!