We continue our discussion of how we react to reviews of our novels.
So far, I’ve read most of my reviews. I’m sure I’ve missed one here or there as I don’t actively seek them out. But when the Google Alerts hit me, I generally check.
The good reviews are great. I read them over and over and cherish every word. I even read things into them to increase the happy feelings they give me. As for bad reviews, there are two kinds I’ve run across. There are the bad reviews that actually look at something critically and analyze it. These type of reviews recognize that any book has merit, and these reviews point out the merits along with the aspects which could be improved. As an author, I know I have room to improve. If I didn’t think I had room to improve, there would be an issue. So a critical analysis of my work is fine. As for the bad reviews that do nothing but slander a book and spout how horrible it is and how the author shouldn’t even be writing, I ignore these. I might read them once, feel a bit bummed for an hour or so, but then I recognize the review for the unprofessional bunch of words it is and move on. I am even able to laugh at these.
I’ve been very fortunate in the review department, having received far more positive reviews than negative ones. But the negative ones (especially the really bad ones) do say one very good thing: there are people besides my mom and my friends reading my book. This means I’m done something right in the world of marketing. And this is a good thing.
I enjoy reading reviews because I’m really interested in how people perceive my book. I want to know if they really get what I was trying to say. Most of the time they do, sometimes they don’t, and other times it seems like the reviewer had some preconceived notions going into it. Great reviews can brighten your day, and bad reviews give you something to joke about. (At least hopefully you can joke about them – after you’re finished going “uuuugh” into the phone to your best friend.)
Really, though, the reviews I look forward to most are the ones from the kid readers themselves. It’s one thing to read what Publisher’s Weekly or Kirkus or a big name blogger has to say, but it’s quite another to hear directly from your target audience. Those are the reviews I really take to heart.