Reviews: To Read or Not To Read

by | Apr 26, 2016 | writing

reveiwI am an author. My books have some reviews (albeit not as many as I’d like). And, while many, many people have really enjoyed my work, there are those that do not. And they will let the whole world know about it through their reviews. I have read some of these reviews. And cried. And cried. And cried.

Putting out a book into the world is like putting out a piece of ourselves. We become quite vulnerable to everyone’s opinion. And, for some reason, we believe that everyone is going to love our work. We may say we don’t, but, in our hearts, we seem to think they will.

I received the advice long ago to NOT read reviews. Period. Did I take that advice? No. Because I thought I could handle it. Could I? Nope. So, my support system was left picking up the pieces of my broken confidence. Now, I know (a little) better. And I am the one advising authors NOT to read reviews. Why?

IT IS ONE PERSON’S OPINION. There is not a whole lot to gain from one person’s opinion. Especially someone from a random walk of life who is not a writer and doesn’t understand the context of your work. If you must read reviews, read through this lens: it is their opinion. What can I gain? Can something they are saying make me a better writer? If so, you can walk away with something. If not, it is not worth you dwelling on.

BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THERE ARE THOSE OUT THERE WHO THRIVE ON WRITING BAD REVIEWS. I know, I attracted one. Honest. This reviewer’s profile stated that he/she enjoys dishing out harsh reviews on authors that deserve them. Maybe I did deserve some of the things he/she had to say. It was my first novel. I have learned SO MUCH since then. But the tone of the review was definitely meant to tear me down, not simply review the book. So, be aware of this. It’s just best not to go there.

HAVING “HATERS” MUST MEAN YOU HIT A CHORD. What on earth could you have possibly done to upset someone so much to leave not just a negative review, but a nasty review in some cases? This must be something beyond you. Maybe something in your book did strike a chord that made them uncomfortable. This is what I’m left thinking.

HAVING NEGATIVE REVIEWS IS A PART OF IT. All authors have negative reviews. Look up “Pride and Prejudice”. Yep…negative reviews. Can you believe it? Poor Jane Austen is, as they say, “turning over in her grave” I suspect. Not a chance. People come in all shapes and sizes and walks of life and experiences. So, there are going to be those that just don’t care for your work. Just as much as there will be those that love your work. It’s not you, it’s because we, here on earth, are blessed with wondrous diversity.

I truly hope I have given you some reasons to ignore negative reviews, or at least, take them in stride. Better yet, let’s not even read them. But that means we’re not reading any reviews. Well, that’s okay. As much as we like the warm fuzzies that come from positive reviews, they, too, can have an impact on our writing. And I choose to write from the places of my inspiration rather than write to my critics (positive or negative). But that’s me. And that is how I handle my art.

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Sara R. Turnquist