This week we answer the question, How do you react to reviews of your writing?
I have a Google alert for my book titles, so I usually know when I’ve had a review. I want to know what’s going on with my books.
Whenever I get a review, I hold my breath and read through with hope. Usually reviews make me smile. But when I get a negative review, I tell myself this is just one person and that everyone has different taste in books. Still…there have been a few times when reviews stung. When words hurt bad enough to make me cry, I give myself permission to wallow in misery for a day or two. Then I shake it off and get back to work on the next book.
Fortunately most reviews — more often from bloggers these days – — say wonderful things that make me feel great. The reviews I value most by reviewers who enjoyed reading my books as much as I enjoyed creating them. For instance, a review from SLJ for DEAD GIRL WALKING (2008) was a favorite because the reviewer contacted me after writing the review to say how much she enjoyed my book. That meant a lot to me, and I was very glad for the opportunity to thank her via email.
I absolutely read all my reviews, and I weigh them both (though I probably shouldn’t) the same. The good ones I squeal over and post on Twitter, Facebook, my blog and my website. The bad ones are a little more complicated.
First, I must read the review no less than ten times to make sure I’ve remembered the crushing words by heart so I can use them against myself later when I’m having a pity party over some other book-related issue.
(Example: “I can’t believe my library won’t carry ‘Kittens in the Meat Grinder’! But then again, The New York Times did call it ‘A tragic tale.’”)
Second, I subject the words of the review to my own interpretation, followed by looking up any of the negative words in the dictionary, just to make sure there isn’t some other interpretation of “makes me want to end literacy”.
Third, I send the review to my critique partner, my mentor, my friends in the writing community and ask them what THEY all think. When they’re able to see the positive bits that I didn’t, I relax a little and pull the good snippets out for a blurb.
Note: I’ve never gotten these particular negative reviews. I’ve also never written a book called “Kittens in the Meat Grinder”. Hamsters work MUCH better.
Join us tomorrow when we continue this discussion…