Reading Reviews: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly.
When I published my first book back in 2014, I wasn’t emotionally ready for reviews. I tried my best to stop myself checking them, but my curiosity was too strong. So when the reviews started rolling in, and though the positives were encouraging, my first negatives really put me down. My first was a DNF with little feedback except for a few sentences. I was hurt, obviously, and became much more nervous and reluctant to send my book out to bloggers.
What if everyone else thought the same? What if my book baby was really that bad? What if everyone else hates it?
Reviews kept coming and no matter how many positives I received, I couldn’t shake that disappointment I felt from my first DNF and any negative reviews that followed. Why was I dwelling so much on these negative comments when other readers were enjoying it? Because it is my baby. And no one wants to hear that their baby is ugly! How insulting!
Later, I received a more positive and constructive message which was far more helpful. The reviewer went into detail about the style and structure of my sentences. But her enjoyment of the story was enough to get a positive review. It was her constructive criticism that helped me to consider a re-edit, reread, and professional copy edit of the book after which I did a relaunch. I was so grateful for her comments because she helped me delve more deeply into understanding what being an indie author means. When I first published, I really didn’t think it through or research deeply. I just jumped right in—without even really trying the traditional way—because I was too eager to get the story out there.
I’ve learned so much more about this industry as time’s gone by. And though I was still affected by the reviews of my work, it was only four years after book one’s launch that I started to feel less affected by them.
So what changed?
First, I became more active on Goodreads and added my own reviews of novels. I started to read books with a deeper intention. It was no longer about liking or not liking. I had to give my reasons. When doing this, I noticed how much my opinions on books were so different others. You can see this in reader Facebook groups too.
Second, I submitted my first book to Netgalley to get more reviews, and the results were fascinating. I really started to appreciate how various the opinions of reviewers are. How much opinions can change from person to person. So I started to just think more about it. How often does a friend tell us you you have to watch this show, you have to read this book, you have to eat this food, but when you do you start to wonder what your friend is on. Why are they so passionate about something that I think is just… meh? There are some insanely popular books, TV shows, and movies out there, and I really don’t understand why! I just can’t appreciate them in the same way as others do. And I now admit that the same can be said for my work.
I have some readers that love my books, and some that don’t like them at all. I have others that think they are just... meh. And that’s OK. I am OK with that. I feel the same way about some books, TV shows, movies, and food too. I've read some books that were awesome and then read another book by the same author and had to force myself to finish it!
As the saying goes, no matter how much you try, you can’t please everyone.
What I can do is grow as an author. Take on new stories, learn how to write better, take course, all to perfect my style. I believe I am a better writer than I was six years ago. My writing has matured. I have actively studied and practised how to be better. And I hope some of you have noticed that. As for reviews, I love to read the good ones. They help to validate the nervous child inside me. And the bad? They help me understand readers, they help me push myself to be better. But the ugly ones? They helped me grow a backbone.
Until next time,
Stay Safe, Stay Health, and Stay Gold