As soon as I was accepted for publication by a publisher, I was given some advice by more than one writer: do not read the reviews on your book. For some reason, book critics seem to be especially harsh, and I can see how reading bad reviews would make a writer feel pretty terrible. So, I considered this to be good advice, and made a not very committed decision to follow it. Beautiful Monster has been out for less than two weeks, and guess what I’ve done almost every day since? Yep. I’ve been on Amazon. I’ve been on Goodreads. I’ve been on Barnes & Noble. I’ve been everywhere the book is being marketed and I’ve been reading the reviews.

So far, the reviews have been good… great actually. I’ve been impressed by the readers’ insights into the story, I’m fascinated by the way they are affected by it, and I am, of course, flattered by their kind words. However… it’s just a matter of time till someone feels differently, and publicly states their hatred for me as an author, and/or the book itself. It’s inevitable. The question is: how will I handle it? The answer: I’m not sure.

I’d like to think I’m thick-skinned enough to take some criticism, but after reading some of the incredibly abrasive negative reviews on some of my favorite books, I’m not so sure. People get downright nasty about these things! So… I’ve made a decision. I’m going to stop while I’m ahead and not read any more reviews. The truth is, you can not write for other people. Writing is something that is almost entirely intrinsically motivated~ you have to do it for yourself. As soon as you start listening to critics, you start questioning yourself.

I also need to use my time writing new material. Beautiful Monster is complete; there’s no taking it back, and no changing anything about it, even if I wanted to. It’s been given wings and is out of my hands. It’s been placed in a world which will do whatever it chooses to do with it. It’s not my business what becomes of the book at this point. The only business I have is to keep writing. That’s what this is all about: keeping on keeping on, and so… onto the next chapter…

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Comments
  1. clarklori says:

    It’s a cruel, cruel world out there. Until I started writing I would write really biting reviews of books I didn’t like. Now… having been on the flip side of that coin… I refuse to be cruel. I remember that it is someone’s baby… they poured their heart into that book. Now, I will never write less than a 3 Heart review on a book. If I finish the book, there had to be something I liked about it to keep reading it. Maybe I loved the main character and that character helped to carry a weak plot. Or perhaps I loved the plot but could not connect with the characters.

    That being said… I promise to read and review your book just as soon as I find time.

    And PS. I miss you!

    • It’s true, Lori. I read some random book reviews before Monster came out, just to see what I was in for. I was mortified. People can be so cruel. Then I went to read some reviews on the books and authors I really love… same thing. Yes, good reviews are great, but there is another side to that: bad reviews.
      I’m glad to hear you’re gentle in your critiques (and not just because you’re going to review my book!) but because what you said was true… someone put a lot of work into that book, and someone believed in it enough to push it as far as they could take it. It’s just too easy to criticize something when you’re just casually passing by it.
      That being said, I miss you too! I really do.
      And thanks for the upcoming review!

  2. Kim Justesen says:

    It’s a challenge to work so hard for so long, give “birth” to your baby, send it out into the world and risk people saying, “OH MY GOD what an ugly child!” It takes courage to keep writing when you know this is the potential outcome. However, if every book appealed in exactly the same way to every reader, there would be no need to keep writing -would there . . .

  3. Some writers read all their reviews, but I don’t; I find I’m too easily influenced and I’d rather be true to myself.

    When you do run across one-star reviews, just go check other people’s books and you’ll find the same there; nasty reviews crop up frequently. I once read a review of my novel, Haunted, that trashed it because it was “so full of cliches.” That one made me laugh — that was the intention! It’s an homage. But other ones can eat at you, even if you have a thick skin.

    It’s also interesting to find out what your deeper meanings are, according to readers. We write our books for ourselves, but sometimes other people read the most amazing things into them – usually they complicate things, but not always. Some of these insights are fun, some will make you realize your subconscious was at work and someone spotted it, and most will be amazingly off the mark. None of this is a bad thing. It’s just surprising, especially at first.

    Lori, I’m with you. I don’t review if I can’t say something nice! Jared, few writers are so professional so early on. Congratulations. I’m looking forward to reading you for years to come.

    • Tamara, I have been lucky so far, but I know the bad reviews will come… that’s why I am stopping right now! I appreciate your kind words. It means a lot to me. As you know… I’m your number one fan… Bwa ha ha ha! 😉

  4. everettann says:

    I think as a new published author it’s just human nature to read reviews. We’re anxious, after all, to find out what others think of our labor. Personally, I suffer from what most writers experience, I always think everything I write is not worth reading. But, when others tell me how much they have enjoyed my book, it makes me happy.

    Now, I’ve gotten some great reviews and personal emails from people I don’t know and will never know, but I’ve also gotten a really bad one star review. When I did, it broke my heart. Not so much the review was mean, but because the person truly hated something I’d written, to the point of wanting to tell the world.

    I’ve since recovered from that and moved on with the second book. It’s not out for public consumption yet, but soon will be. However, I’ve spread some ARC’s around and just last night got a text saying a certain chapter was making the texter laugh her butt off.

    Even before I was published, I never left a bad review for an author. If they had the courage to put words on a page and put them out for the world to judge, then they deserve encouragement and kind words for their effort even if the book stinks.

    I don’t read reviews much anymore, but I do check them from time to time. I can’t help myself!

    • Good for you, Everettann! That’s the important thing: to keep writing. I, too, have never written a bad review, but I also tend not to review at all, even when a book truly moves me. I should probably be more attentive about that.

      Thank you for reading. I appreciate it!

  5. Linda L. Bennett says:

    I look at it this way, everyone is entitled to their own opinions. Just take the bad with a grain of salt, if you can manage that, the the bad reviews won’t bother you so much.

  6. Erica Pike says:

    Heh, I started second guessing EVERYTHING about my writing and choice of topics after I started reading reviews on my work (like you, I was glued to every possible review site out there). Wow, it put a huge mental block in my head and I’m just now getting through it (debuted in January). It’s true, they can be very, very harsh and people don’t hold back the punches. It’s very hard for grasshoppers like me.

    However, if you do happen upon a negative review on your book, just remember your own words up there. Even your favorite books get very negative/nasty reviews, which goes to show how subjective reviews are and even if there’s a negative one it doesn’t mean squat.

    • Thanks for reading, Erica. I agree with you, and I am proud to say I am four days sober! lol. I haven’t been to any of the sites to look at my reviews.

      I look some advice a friend gave me, and have appointed someone as my personal “filter.” This person will go through the reviews and tell me only what I need to hear!

      If a negative review holds some water, this person will be able to tell me in gentler terms, lol.

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