5 Reasons Not To Read Your Reviews

When you are published or you self-publish, suddenly there’s your book on Amazon and Goodreads and other places where people can review it. And it’s in the hands of review bloggers who are going to write something longer than a line about it. Every author wants reviews. They think reviews sell books, or indeed that bad reviews put people off buying. How true that all is, who knows? But wanting to have reviews doesn’t mean it’s a good thing for you, the writer, to read them.

Don’t read reviews:

  1. If they upset you. If critical ones make you unhappy and discouraged. People will tell you to toughen up, but it’s not wrong to feel bad about them. You feel what you feel. Maybe you’re over-sensitive? So what? There’s no law against that. But if that’s how reviews make you feel, especially if they make you want to give up writing altogether, then they are doing you no good. Don’t read them.
  2. If you don’t get that they aren’t for you. The audience is not the writer, it’s the reader. Also, a lot of what we call “reviews” on Goodreads or Amazon are not actually reviews in the literary sense. They’re reactions and feelings about the book. Even ones that are more formal reviews are under no obligation to do anything the author wants, like give “constructive criticism” or “find at least one good thing to say about the book.” If you don’t get what reviews really are, don’t read them, because you won’t find anything useful in them.
  3. If they fill you with useless rage. They get you all riled up and angry that people are dissing your book and saying such rude things about your plot and characters. How very dare they?! Don’t they know how long you sweated over that book? Could these idiots write a book even a quarter as good? Think not! You seethe internally and before you know it your dentist is diagnosing night-time teeth grinding. Believe me, it’s not worth the blood pressure hike. Keep away from them and chill out.
  4. If you can’t resist responding. Maybe you can’t stick with seething internally. You can’t bottle up all that rage. You must unleash it. You must respond to reviewers. You know this usally leads to disaster and ends up with the author on a badly behaved authors list. But you cannot let that review stand without a reply. You absolutely must respond or go mad! In this case it’s best to not even expose yourself to the temptation. Don’t even look.
  5. If they make you into a raging asshole. Some people go far beyond just arguing with reviewers, or posting ranty blogs for the amusement of the rest of the Internet. Some people gather minions to sic on the reviewers, or ally themselves with sites like “Stop the Goodreads Bullies”. Some stalk reviewers through the internet, maybe reveal their offline identity and details. Or stalk them in the real world. One has even travelled the length of the UK to physically assault a reviewer. The lastest variation on this ludicrous theme is the author who co-wrote a book with one of the characters as a thinly disguised version of a reviewer she hates. Such people should be legally banned from reading reviews, for everyone’s good.

If you think you can read your reviews without falling into any of those traps, then go for it. Otherwise, stay well away for your own sanity and in a few rare cases, public safety!

9 thoughts on “5 Reasons Not To Read Your Reviews

  1. Good advice. I must admit, the type of person I am I read the reviews… If I don’t like the review, I take the adult approach that not everyone will like my books. I go look at some top authors – even my favourites, and look at her shitty one star reviews and this makes me feel so much better.

    1. If you can take that attitude, you should be safe. And a good idea to look at the reviews for top authors. Everyone gets bad ones. Of course being famous and successful doesn’t guarantee you won’t do any of the above – look as Anne Rice. ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Very good advice.

    I do try not to get hung up over reviews, but I don’t quite yet have the intestinal fortitude to ignore them altogether. Hurtful ones are hurtful, but I’ve found a few days reflection have been enough to make me put them to one side and plough on.

  3. I’m seeing a lot of writers recently who don’t engage with the reviewer, but mobilise friends to downvote negative reviews and to plant their own positive ones. And that’s just gaming the system. It’s a way of responding to reviews without directly responding and it smacks of immaturity to me, a writer who can’t handle someone saying their baby’s ugly.

    Hell, I’d be grateful to just have some reviews at all!

    (Might help if I wrote more books, eh?:D)

    1. Ah yes, trying to do it at one remove starts moving the person into the raging asshole territory. Also very risky, because once you set those dogs loose you can’t control them and don’t know what they will do. But in the end you;ll be held responsible for it.

      Yes, Scarlett, get writing more books! I know, it’s tempting to slack off now it’s nearly summer and you have a couple of hours of daylight up there, but get typing! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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