I’ve heard several people commenting lately about how every debut author is secretly combing the internet and reading every review of their book. If this is true, I am the outlier; I don’t read your reviews.
Sure, I read the ones my publisher sent me, and the ones my agent sent me. I read the ones from bloggers to whom I personally sent arcs, and the ones from bloggers with whom I then did interviews. But my book has been out for five months now, and it was only last week (upon encountering one of these comments about the secret combing) that I got on Amazon and Goodreads to see if there *were* any reviews of my book.
There were. I was glad for that. I read exactly one. It was a very well written mixed review. I was grateful for it.
And then I shut the window and have not returned. I’m so happy that people are reviewing my book. I’m happy that it seems many people like it. I’m happy that it seems some people don’t, because that means it’s reaching a wider audience. I’m so, so happy that some people read it and care enough to write a review, good, bad, or mixed.
But I just can’t imagine that reading reviews is going to add anything positive to my life. I have confidence in myself, and all the good reviews in the world are not going to make me feel better than I do, because praise is fleeting. Relying on praise for my well-being is foolish–if I need praise to feel good, I have to be constantly searching for my next fix. I don’t want to be like that.
And the criticism in a review is of course valid and helpful–for readers. My critique group gives me criticism for me. My agent and editor do. My beta readers do. I love criticism, and find it invaluable to my process…before the book is finished. Once it’s done? Not much I can do anymore. And the next book will have different problems than the last.
As a reader (and viewer, and player) I regularly read reviews of things before I buy them. I don’t care much about the ratings, but I care a lot about what bothered the reader and why. I compare my pet peeves with the problems of the reviewer, and I learn a lot about what I’m likely to enjoy, and what I’m not. But as a writer? Reading negative reviews is just going to make me feel bad, without the positive result of being able to fix the problems. So I don’t read them.
(I also don’t know what my Amazon ranking is. Unlike reviews, that number doesn’t seem important to me.)
Thank you again, everyone who has taken the time to write a review. I’d love it if more of you would write them. Thanks most of all for reading. Please don’t be offended that I’m not reading your review in return.