Authors vs. Reviewers: Where’s the Love?

January 10, 2012

The title is deceiving. I know plenty of authors and reviewers who get along—no matter the circumstances. Their behavior is civil, professional and—gasp—they even form friendships despite the occasional disagreement. But there’s this other side of the coin made up of a small but vocal group that shatters the peace, people who lash out whenever they feel their writing is being attacked. Arguing ensues. Twitter lights up with comments about the feud. And I’m left wondering why writers read reviews in the first place.

Come on! Negative reactions by at least a few are a given. We’ve all read books we don’t enjoy. As readers, we may roll our eyes, email friends, complain to our spouses and refuse to finish reading. As writers, we may do all of the above plus cry over the injustice of these “awful” books making it into print while our “incredible” creations go unpublished. Sure, none of us wants to believe her book would prompt a negative comment, but that’s naïve (this coming from the Queen of Naïve).

The way I see it, unless someone I trust directs me to a favorable review of my work, I’m not reading opinions until I’m good and ready to behave good and grown up.

Reviewers serve a valuable purpose to the reader. (I rarely buy a book without consulting reviews first.) Reviewers promote reading and support authors–sometimes spurring sales with a negative review. Just because the relationship is symbiotic doesn’t mean we have to become obsessed.

Unless a writer is strong and sure and MATURE, judging success by the approval of reviewers can be hazardous to a career. How many editors and agents are lining up to work with writers who engage in these feuds? How many writers quit writing because they can’t let go of potentially irrational hurts? By the time our writing is published, we should wear our thick skins with pride, because we’ve earned them.

How about you? If you’re published, do you read all reviews—even search them out? Have you ever responded to something negative? Did it get ugly? And if you’re not published yet, how do you think you’ll handle a negative review?

It’s something to think about.




5 Responses to “Authors vs. Reviewers: Where’s the Love?”

  1. Tilly Slaton Says:

    Good morning, Sunshine 🙂

    I have been seeking a lot of support and input from friends on the book that is *almost* finished. I’m cutting a lot of scenes and adding to others. Oh the neverending adventures of editing.

    I have received some great advice from my friends. Thus far, I have not received anything extremely negative in an unkind sense.

    I think I would more than likely seek out reviews and cross my fingers that they are not bitter and bashing. If they are, I will go to my favorite Mexican food joint, snag a beer and cheers myself for a job well done.

    Everyone has their opinions.

    • I’d much rather be with you, enjoying Mexican food and throwing back cold beers than worrying about what other people are saying about me. Let’s remember this the first time I’m hit with a nasty review. 🙂


  2. It is a bit crazy the way these things flare up. I do read my reviews, albeit through my fingers. I couldn’t not read, if I knew it was a bad review. Besides, maybe the reviewer has a point and I could actually learn something?

    Thankfully I’ve only had good reviews so far. I’m sure I will get a not so nice one soon. I’m bound to…

    When I do, I shall eat copious amounts of chocolate, drown my sorrows in a glass of wine, without doubt moan my head off at poor hubby and my crit group, perhaps even go really dramatic and shed a few tears (well, I am a drama queen) and then put it behind me and move on.

    Someone once said for every person that loves your book there is one that hates it. As an author I can’t please everyone and readers are entitled to their opinions.

    You can quote this back to me when I’m sniffing into my coffee, after a bad review 😉

  3. yhosby Says:

    Hello Elley,

    When I get published (fingers crossed LOL), I will absolutely try to find all the reviews or comments about my book. I’m just curious that way.

    Since I have a thick skin, I could handle a negative review maturely. I’d just be grateful that my book has more exposure on the web. Besides, reading is subjective, so what the reviewer hated about the book, someone else may buy it just because they’d love that part.

    If I saw that someone posted a review on their website, I’d definitely say “Thank you for your review. Sorry you didn’t enjoy it.” I’m pretty sarcastic, and it’d take a lot for me to not add a smart alec comment at the end LOL. Then, I’d link that page to my blog, so people could form their own opinions about it–I definitely wouldn’t badmouth the reviewer on my blog because I wouldn’t want someone to do that to me.

    Keep smiling,

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