I, like many authors, have a love/hate relationship with reviews. We do what we can to get them early so Amazon algorithms will smile upon us. We search out flattering turns of phrases that we might be able to pull and use in social media to entice prospective readers. We (I) breathe sighs of relief when those first reviews come back saying wonderful things about the new book.
And yet, I implore authors, especially new authors, to avoid reading their reviews. As in, avoid it like the plague. Because, here’s the thing—as soon as strangers start reading your book, you are going to start getting those dreaded three-, two-, or even one-star reviews.
I can tell you from personal experience, you can have a hundred glowing five-star reviews, but the solitary one-star will put you in a funk for at least a week.
Or maybe that’s just me.
Some of the lower-rated reviews can be laughed off. The reader gave the book a one-star because it arrived damaged. Or because they didn’t like fantasy when the cover clearly shows wizards and dragons.
The sad truth is some people are mean. They not only don’t like your book, they want the entire world to dislike it as well.
I have at least one review out there (a one-star) in which the reader rants about every aspect of the story and proceeds to give away every plot twist, every reveal, including the ending. That one makes me break out in hives. Dude, if you disliked what you were reading so much, why not toss the book in the trash and move on? Why immerse yourself into the story so deeply that you felt the need to re-tell the entire thing in five long paragraphs on a review site?
Most of the time, I put on blinders when I’m looking at my books on those sites. I avoid the reviews, find what I’m there to look for, and close the page. Unfortunately, the other day I got lured in. I clicked on the reviews. And as I said above, in spite of all the lovely five-stars, the handful of one-stars are what captured my eye and made me question my career choice.
At which point, I gave myself the same advice I’ve given others over and over again. Step away from the reviews. I did, but they still stung.
I’ve always been told those reviews are not for us. They’re by readers, for readers. Fine. Lately, however, there seems to be a new social media trend. Readers post reviews trashing a book and then tag the author. Why on earth do these people feel the need to do this? We’ve already faced truckloads of rejections from agents and editors to get to this point. It’s not like we need to learn what that feels like.
So I’m putting these questions out there: To my fellow authors, do you read your reviews? Have you ever found yourself tagged in a bad one? To my fellow readers, do you write reviews, even if you dislike the book? And if you’ve ever tagged an author in one of those bad reviews, can you please explain your reasoning? I’d really like to understand.