Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Should An Author Read Their Own Book Reviews? By Kara Isaac
Don't read your own reviews. I got that piece of advice more than once from veteran authors as early reviews started rolling into GoodReads and the official release date for Close To You loomed large.
And let me say this is it good advice. Right up there with eat very limited processed sugar and get 30 minutes of exercise a day. But here is the truth, I did not have that kind of willpower in me. At least not when it came to my debut novel which had been ten years in the making since I first started writing. I could no more stop myself from reading reviews in those early days/weeks than I could stop myself dreaming of Taylor Swift reading Close To You and tweeting about it to her twenty-six million followers (dream big, I say).
Who knows? Maybe if I am ever fortunate enough to be a veteran author with a stack of titles out there in the big wide world the lure of reading my own reviews will abate. But for now, these are my four tips for those of us who cannot say no to that GoodReads or Amazon page!
Don't Be Obsessive
Checking in every few days in okay, sitting on the page for an hour hitting refresh to see if any more have come in since the last time you did is, well not.
Make Sure You Have Perspective
Ever read a book that all your friends raved about and then when you picked it up you thought it was a bit meh? Guess what, that will also be the reaction some readers have to your book. It's not personal. Your book, for whatever reason, isn't going to resonate with every reader. That's okay. It doesn't make you a bad writer and it doesn't make them a bad reader.
Don't Rely on Reviews As Your Primary Validation As A Writer
If reviews become your primary source of validation then the way that you write becomes subject to the whims of strangers. The way that you perceive your own capabilities as a writer becomes on a rollercoaster of other peoples' opinions.
I have a team of editors whose job it is to let good books be published. I have an agent whose income relies in hi being able to recognise good writing. I have a cadre of critique partners who are all great writers. If they tell me something needs work, I listen. If they tell me something isn't working, I try to fix it. If they think that the writing is good and the characters are compelling, then their opinion has to mean more to me than the reader who had a bad day and thought my characters were whiny, immature and made her want to throw my book across the room.
Don't Ever Ever Publicly Respond To Negative Reviews
I read a bad review for Close To You recently. Which I was actually remarkably okay with (see point above) but what really got under my skin was the factual errors. Hate my book if you must but at least have the courtesy of spelling my name right and not making errors about the content. In the words of Disney Let it go, let it good.
In that vain, don't encourage friends or family to do so either. I've read a few review responses that were clearly by friends or family of the author and it just looks petty. Sometimes well-meaning people will go off on their own and do something like that without you knowing but do everything you can to discourage it.
What about you? If you're an author do you read your own reviews? If you're a reader have you ever seen authors respond to reviews and what did you think?
Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Her debut romantic comedy, Close To You, is about a disillusioned academic-turned-tour-guide and an entrepreneur who knows nothing about Tolkien who fall in love on a Tolkien themed tour of New Zealand and was an April 2016 release from Howard Books. When she's not working her day job as a public servant, chasing around a ninja preschooler and his feisty toddler sister, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand. She loves to connnect on her website, on Facebook at Kara Isaac - Writer and Twitter @KaraIsaac