It seems like there has been a lot of controversy in the literary world lately surrounding reviews and various people’s reactions to them. My post today is an adaptation to a response I wrote to a concerned reviewer/blogger. You can read the original thread here.
Writers have been trending towards being insulted by reviews lately, some extremely so. As a writer, IMHO there’s nothing wrong with a three star (middle of the road) review. It’s a good thing. It means someone read your book, and didn’t hate it. Yes, great reviews are a better thing, but even your average meh review can be very constructive if you take it as such. If you examine the same book reviewed by different reviewers, you’ll get varied responses because people like different things. I try to focus on the fact that if people are reading your book and not hating it, then you’re doing okay! You’re never going to please everyone, because everyone is different.
One thing you learn early on when becoming involved in the arts (in any medium) is that it is a highly subjective field, and by putting your work out there, you are opening yourself up to thoughtful—and sometimes less than—critique. If that is something you don’t know how to separate from personal feelings, it will be a very tough industry for you. I’m a very sensitive person, but I’ve also been involved in the arts most of my life, and I know how to take a critique.
As a reader, I don’t let individual reviews sway my opinion on a particular book for the same reasons. There are very specific factors unique to me, that will make me like or dislike a book. As a rule, I generally won’t read first person books. I just can’t connect with the voice…but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to give someone the chance to change my mind. The thing I look at most are averages. It takes a lot of 3 star and below reviews to bring the average down to a 3 or below, not just one. If I see averages that low, I may think twice about reading the book–or I may still read it because my friend/cousin/sister/mother loved it. You never know. That’s the beauty of free will.
Bear with me, I’m gonna wrap this up and jump off my soap box. ::clears throat:: In conclusion, for any reviewers out there who may be conflicted about author responses or reviews in general, I would base your reviews on your own standard of what constitutes a good book, and writers/readers can put on their big girl pants and deal. As a writer and a reader, I appreciate what you do!
For authors, take reviews with a grain of salt, because each one boils down to one person’s thoughts and preferences. Take the critique for what it is, and use it to better yourself. That doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a bubble bath, a glass of wine, and a good cry if you get a sucky review, but it should stop there.
Until next time…