Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Writing Wednesday: Should You Read Your Own Reviews?

I recently returned from a vacation in Mexico (yes, it was wonderful and fabulous and you should all be uber-jealous) and during the first week I got a lot of writing done on my young adult WIP. It's the third book in my Son of a Mermaid series, and I'm pretty excited about the way the action is moving along.

But then...

Sometime in the second week (again, go ahead and send all those jealous curses my way. It was worth it.) I got a Google alert about a new review on Goodreads.

I made the mistake of clicking the link.

It was not a good review.

And yes, I read it several times, trying to parse it out. Feeling worse each time I read it. The sinking feeling in my gut had little to do with the tequila I'd had the previous night, and more to do with self-doubt. Why was I wasting my time trying to get my characters to cooperate?

I didn't open my manuscript for the last few days of the trip, nor have I returned to it since getting back home. Now, granted, I've been crazy busy catching up with work that piled up at my day job, as well as organizing the bake sale for the high school musical and cooking dinner for 50 for the drama department fundraiser and opening the pool for the season.

But I've found enough spare time to read 5 other books and write two reviews.

Just not work on my WIP.

Has this ever happened to you? What do you do to snap out of it? How do you let the criticism roll off your back - or do you?

How do you deal with negative reviews? Please share your strategies, because I need a boost.

And chocolate. Lots of chocolate.




33 comments:

  1. Katie - I find it hard to believe anyone could give your work a negative review~It's always so wonderful. But.. I get it. Reviews are such a vicious necessity for writers, especially in the age of Amazon. The more reviews we garner the more Amazon will promote for us. I can get 10 great, glowing reviews, but it's that one piddly, mean spirited one that will stick with me. The only way I can get through it so that I can continue doing what I love most - namely, writing - is to remember what my grandmother used to tell me about people: "Everyone has an opinion. Some will agree with yours, most won't. Don't hate those that don't agree with yours just because they are wrong!" Katie - your are an amazeballs writer - and i know you KNOW THIS!!! Get back at the WIP. The world needs your work, your words, your creativity. As for the negative reviewer, leave her for God to deal with. Keep writing---PLEASE!!!!

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    1. Thanks, Peggy - you are the sweetest. And I really didn't write this post looking for personal validation (although it's nice) but more because i KNOW we all go through this at one time or another. And I've been here before. But for whatever reason, I'm feeling the need for new strategies.

      And I also have to say, I don't think I've ever appreciated the word amazeballs in a sentence before. But now I do. Thanks for that!

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  2. Yes, unfortunately, I sometimes pop around and check on my latest reviews. Inevitably, there are some stinkers in the ranks, especially at Goodreads. I once heard it said that Goodreads is where an author's ego goes to die. How true. Amazing how many good reviews it takes to make up for one (or more) bad reviews. The more reviews you get greater the chances are that some will not make your day. I totally get that. Sail on Silver Bird, sail on by. Rise above the meanie heads, as I say to self, because they will always be there. However, if you pay for a book blast through one of the reputable book promo sites, and your book blog tour includes possible reviews, don't put up with a stinker there. I howled loudly and they took it down. Not on my dime, buddy. You can kick me around for free elsewhere.

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    1. "Goodreads is where an author's ego goes to die."

      LOL - thanks for making me smile, Beth! Meanie heads indeed.

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  3. Okay, first of all, sending lots of virtual chocolate your way. :) Negative reviews hurt and make me feel like I should give up writing. But then I remember that it's one person (or maybe even a few) out of a billion potential readers. There's always going to be someone who hates my work, just as there will always be someone who loves it. Talk to people who like your books--especially people who know you. They'll make you feel better, and their opinions are just as important as those who leave reviews. And then just sit and write. Good luck. :)

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    1. Thanks for the chocolate :-)

      And for the advice. I do understand that reading tastes are subjective. And it's actually heartening to hear that other authors do read their reviews and struggle with these same thoughts - As I hit "Publish" on this post, I figured everyone would say "Don't read reviews" or "avoid Goodreads" - not possible...

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  4. Dammit! After you've said that, you remember: it's one person, their thoughts and maybe they had brain cramps while reading it or maybe they'll have brain cramps because of what they said. Either way, it's just something we have to deal with.

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    1. Thanks, Leigh. I find stamping my feet while cursing makes it better, too. It's the getting back to work part I'm having trouble with. But you're right. It's part of the job.

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  5. Yes, we are writers in a boat together, putting our passion out there, subjecting it and ourselves to opinions as well as genuine critiques. I have learned as an author that my opinion is far less valuable than a solid critique, and with a critique comes positive information for the reader and the writer. I appealed to Goodreads recently to use professional discretion as to the reviews posted, having seen them allow a 1 star review hold top billing on my book that was an Amazon #1 bestseller and loaded with 5 star reviews. The 1 star review stated they never even read the book. I pointed out to Goodreads you can't judge or review a book you haven't read, so why was that given top billing. No response from them, but it's my way of joining fellow authors in achieving integrity in the system.

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    1. Oooh, I hate that. I've had a few reviews where they get the story facts wrong and I wonder if they really read the book before they decided to give an opinion... that shouldn't be allowed, or at the very least ought to be dealt with by a librarian when it's pointed out.

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  6. I agree with what everyone has said. It's a fact of life when you are a writer. There is always going to be someone who doesn't like your work. Doesn't mean you are a bad writer, but that writing is subjective. I received good advise from a fellow writer. Read the bad review once, and never read it again. Don't dwell on it, move on. Don't let it get you down.Easier said than done, I know, but it's what I try to do. Remember there are others waiting to read your next book, don't let them down.

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    1. Thanks Tena. I do know this too - and even got a mother's day email from one of my favorite stalkers, who usually ends his inquiries about the series with a "no pressure" kind of line. I love hearing from him. I'll focus on him instead :-)

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  7. Some people are just mean. They enjoy the power they have over people like us. I once read about a reviewer who said they hoped the authors children would die. I totally ignore mean people. The ones I pay attention to are the good reviewers who say - 'I enjoyed the book, however...' Sometimes you can learn something by those.

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    1. Constructive criticism is always a good thing. I liked Beth's "meanie head" description of those non-constructive reviewers, don't you?

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  8. Oh, Katie. I'm ploughing through a chocolate-nut bar just for you. :) I think people who don't have the imagination to write, deliver stinking reviews. Maybe it makes them feel better! The good reviewers who take the time to read a book, rarely if ever post a devastating review. They choose rather to leave nothing or just a 'did not finish.' All we can do is work to push the negative feelings and self doubt where it belongs...far far away. And we definitely can't let it linger for more than a day...or a shot of tequila! You are a wonderful author! Anni xx

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    1. I totally appreciate you taking the calorie hit for me, Anni, since I'm currently on a stupid last-ditch diet before my college reunion. I'll save my calorie count for that next shot of tequila :-)

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  9. Katie, I read the negative reviews only once, consider their opinion, and then move on. In most cases, it's always followed by a glowing review. Yet, do I get angry, cry, or stomp by foot? Yes to all three! But I swiftly move onward. There are those who need to be mean--crave the power behind the screen to spew nasty comments. Whenever I start to doubt my work, I recall one of my favorite quotes by Eleanor Roosevelt, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Hugs!

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    1. Thanks for that reminder - one of my other favorites from Eleanor is "Do One Thing Every Day that Scares You."

      Although I don't think she meant read reviews. I think she meant more along the lines of get your writing out there to be criticized.

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  10. Katie, as always, a lovely thought-provoking post. I'm used to reviews for my yoga teaching because I teach numerous classes on an international yoga website. Those ones can be fun--one reviewer waxed poetic about me clearing my throat and wanting to kill me for it. Obviously, she needed more yoga. Now that my book reviews are coming in for my debut, I can't help but read them. Once again, I remind myself that not everyone will like me or you. In fact, I might really annoy someone or inadvertently touch a nerve. It's okay not to please everyone. In fact, strong reactions can be a sign you touched the reader and isn't that what you want at the end of the day? Although, a mean email without public nastiness would be preferred! Let it go. Move on. Know you are fabulous, because you are! Claire Marti

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    1. "Obviously she needed more yoga."

      Another laugh out loud statement, and loving the matter-of-factness of how you take it all in stride.

      I'm so glad we're all sharing today - it helps to know we're not alone. I'm not alone. Writing can be such a lonely business and it's great to know I have all of you to commiserate with!

      Happy Writing to ALL!

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  11. Sorry that happened to you while on vacation! I'm pretty new at publishing and was lucky to have mostly enthusiastic reviews of my first book. For the two so-so/unimpressed reviews I received, I didn't take it to heart, because both reviewers seemed, frankly, kind of dumb, at least on paper. So my way of dealing with it was to turn around and judge them unkindly. I'm not saying it's a lofty response; it's just one that worked for me. And since my second book releases in another week or so, I guess I'd better start toughening my skin now. I think we all related to this post--thanks for letting us share!

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    1. Being judge-y works for me too - sounds like a strategy!

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  12. Oh, Katie, I feel for you. Why do we waste time on hurtful reviews? I sent in a short story to a contest with three reviewers. Two of them loved it, the other ripped it to shreds. All I can take from that is everyone "has" an opinion. We have to learn to let go and move forward.

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    1. What's that saying? Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts. Yeah, I know it's a subjective business. Thanks for chiming in.

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  13. My husband says opinions are like as&h@#es everybody's got one.
    😬What works for me besides wine and whining is to remember that all of my favorite authors the prolific the successful and the lauded also get those reviews. If there is anything to be gained from the review in a constructive sense, take it and move on.

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    1. Wine and whine. The solution of champions :-)

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  14. I'm so sorry someone gave you a nasty review, Katie. I like your books. I always read my reviews, even the nasty ones. Sometimes I let those nasty ones sit for a couple of months and go back and reread them to see if it's mean-spirited or if it's something I could improve on in my writing. Sometimes people just don't like the author's writing for whatever reason and those, to me, are real reviews. Others are mean-spirited. Like the one that told me not to quit my day job. That's not anything I can learn from so it now makes me chuckle. I try to read the negative reviews and see if they will help me improve. Months after I'm finished being mad about it, that is. ha! :) Chin up and keep on writing. Don't let that person get you down.

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    1. Ouch - someone actually wrote "don't quit your day job" in a review? That's AWFUL. It does, however, make for a good story for later, when you're rich and famous and sitting across the desk from Jimmy Kimmel or someone like that. I like your books too, Karilyn. Keep writing!

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  15. I just recieved a "nice" (damned by faint praise) review by a friend who said she "doesn't read" romance fiction but she would read mine because she's a friend. Then she wrote a review that tries to be "nice" while showing her disdain for the genre. She is now basking in the afterglow of having been such a good friend by supporting what she's superior to.
    My response? First, try to beat back revenge fantasies. (She has a book published by a vanity press that will soon be available for review.) Second, take this as a lesson.
    Wayne Dyer said, "What you think of me is none of my business." Rumi said, "I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think."
    I want to live like that. I want to write like that. A self-serving review is a test, a reminder to live a centered life and to write like the birds sing.
    Judy Meadows (Judy Gabriel) www.judymeadows.com

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    1. LOL - yes, well, those people who feel "above" the entire romance genre must have pretty dull personal lives.

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  16. Oh, and I light candles. I always light candles for friends who are suffering, so why not for my poor, misguided ego when it takes a blow?

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  17. Really enjoyed your post, Katie and all the follow up comments. Everyone is so supportive and has great advice. Reviews either make you feel like the next Nora Roberts or a complete failure. I received a one-star review on Goodreads from someone who didn't bother to make a comment, and when I checked into her background, it was blocked. That still angers me. I'm sorry that bad review put you off your latest WIP, but spend a few minutes re-reading all your positive reviews and carry on. Your books are great.

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