Monday 13 May 2019

To Read Reviews Or Not - The After Process


This is something that's been on my to-do list for a while and something I feel like needs to be talked about more. I know that a lot of the people reading my blogs are either other writers/authors or readers looking for a slice of what it's like to be an author. For that reason, I stick to the advice posts and make sure that I present something that everyone visiting is happy with. That's not going to change, but I feel like it's a good idea to have said that upfront for what I'm about to discuss.

There is a mixed bag when it comes to authors reading reviews. There are those of us, like me, who only read them on a certain site. There are others who read every review they can get their hands on, and there are those who don't read any reviews for a variety of reasons. I want to be clear that all of those are very real and valid ways to go about the whole of author life.

But how do you decide which one is you? How do you know which slot you fall into? It's a bit of trial and error to be honest. When I first started out, I would check reviews every day and would always want to read the good, the bad and the in-between. That part of my review check hasn't changed. I don't respond to reviews (and no author should, it's bad practice and the reviews themselves are more for readers than us) but I do like to see what people are saying about my books. About the experience they had while in my worlds. I find that reading both the good and bad gives me a good idea of what kind of books I'm putting out and the effect they're having on the reading world as a whole.

Which is all well and good if you know going into this author life how you're going to react to your first "bad" review. But if you're unsure, then this might be the piece of advice you need. Know yourself. How do you generally react to critique? How do you react to people thinking negatively of your work? Is it something that's going to cause you undue anxiety? Is it something that you feel excited about? Do you only want to read the good ones? Do you have someone who can read them for you and filter out the things that don't really matter? All of these are questions you can ask yourself, but ultimately it's up to you to decide.

The problem with reading reviews is that sometimes, you are going to have a reaction to them. And it's not always going to be a good one. I have a folder of screenshots on my computer that has all the random pieces of praise I've gotten from reviews and readers, and I keep that because sometimes I will come across a bad review and find myself a little stuck with how to move past it. I open up that folder and find all the positive pieces and it helps to lift me back up. Because lets be real here: bad reviews are going to happen.

It's something I've talked about more on my Authortube channel, but no author in the history of ever only has five star reactions by every single reader. They may only have 5 star reviews on a site, but that doesn't mean that every reader who picked up this book had the same kind of experience. It just means some of the ones with a bad experience didn't leave a review. So once you take that on board, you have to realise that it's going to happen to you. It's going to hurt, and it's going to suck, but you need to move past it.

And if you think that you're someone who can't move past it, then maybe it's time to stop reading those reviews. Either you stick to the positive ones, or you stop all together. I know of authors who have major anxiety and can't read any reviews. And like I said above, that's completely okay. I personally stick to reviews on Goodreads, which may sound odd because a lot of the time, those reviews are a little more critiqued than any other sites, but I like knowing the good and the bad. I know it sounds like something people say and they mean something else, but for me it's actually true.

Does that mean that I don't have any negative reactions to reviews? No, not at all. They will get me down a little, but I have a process that allows me to take on what's needed, and move past it. Like the random praise folder that I mentioned above. It gives me the lift I need and it allows me to see that this is just one readers opinion, it was their experience and it is valid, but there have been more than one reader.

All of that to say that basically it's up to you as an author as to whether you read you reviews. You are the only one who can make that choice and I know of a lot of authors who choose not to. While we're on the subject of reading reviews, I did want to mention a little etiquette thing. If you're a reviewer and you read an author's book and don't like it, don't tag them on your post. That's just rude, especially if they're someone who doesn't like reading any reviews in the first place. While it's your right as a reader to dislike a book, it's also the right of the author to not have to read your review. So bear that in mind.

At the end of the day, there's always going to be ups and downs when it comes to reviews. I think it's something that only the author can decide about and that whatever choice they make, it's perfectly valid as an option. So go forth, read or don't read, and keep writing.

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