There’s been debate about how authors should react to negative reviews after a few authors went a bit Internet-postal after disagreeing with something that was posted about their books. I thought I would weigh in on the issue.
I don’t read reviews good or bad, I focus on my writing.
Ha! Did you actually believe that? Of course I read the reviews. I tell myself I shouldn’t, but I still do. If I wanted to write books only for myself I wouldn’t bother with the whole publishing thing. I would just print them off when I finished and file them under my bed. If I did that I could write my own reviews. “Eileen is a genius!” “Laugh out loud funny- this book is a must have!” I write books because I want them to be read by other people. I don’t spend hours trolling GoodReads or Amazon to figure out what people are saying, but I do check.
Bad Reviews Suck
My official answer when asked how I feel about getting a bad review is that I understand that it’s impossible to please everyone. And that’s true. It doesn’t change that it still sucks to get a nasty one. It results in cursing at the computer screen that if the reviewer is so smart let’s see them write a whole book and then calling up another writer friend and discussing how the reviewer is clearly a giant douche canoe. I keep vowing that someday I’m going to create a line of writer voodoo dolls so that if an author gets a bad review they can poke the doll with a pin while yelling “how do you like me now?”
I feel every writer is allowed to have a brief, private breakdown over a bad review. We worked hard to create those books, it hurts when someone slams them. Breakdowns can take the shape of anger, tears, or massive chocolate consumption. The key is the breakdown should be private and brief. It’s okay to be upset, not okay to wallow. It’s okay to take a moment to curse them out, not okay to go all postal in a public place over the whole thing.
Don’t Tell Anyone, But There Are Books I Don’t Like Either
I read a lot. There are books I am really passionate about, books I like, books I forget ten minutes after I finish them, and books I can’t stand. Someone once sent me an email berating me for only having four and five star reviews on my GoodReads page. She accused me of pretending to like everything as a part of some type of author conspiracy.
Here’s the thing, I don’t talk about the books I dislike. It’s not because there’s a conspiracy, although I desperately wish there was a secret author club where we could have secret handshakes and all hang out together. I don’t post negative reviews because it feels like inviting bad writer karma. I know how much goes into writing a book. I don’t see my role as being a book reviewer. I don’t have the interest in breaking down why a book didn’t work for me. If I didn’t like it I’m done. However, I am happy to share what books I really enjoyed. If you find that interesting great, if not that’s okay too.
There are a lot of books out there. Lots. Hundreds coming out EVERY WEEK. Now that self publishing is a viable option there are thousands of books being published every day. On top of zillions of books to choose from, people have more and more options on how to spend their time. I am always grateful that someone would choose to spend some of their limited free time with one of my books.
Reviews help people figure out what they want to read. If you like a book consider posting a review or take the time to tell a friend or two about it, the author will love you for it. If you’re writing a negative review that has value too. As a writer I might wish you felt differently, but as a reader I appreciate the insight.
Besides, if the whole writing thing doesn’t pan out I’ve got the voodoo doll business to fall back on.