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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Author Insight: Negative Reviews

What's your policy on reading and reacting to negative reviews? If you read them, are they ever helpful?

"I plan to avoid at all costs. I know it’s important to have a thick skin, but I also know myself well enough to know that mine isn’t quite there yet. Thus, I try to avoid negative reviews so I don’t fall down some internet rabbit hole of self-loathing and misery! I have some really talented, really professional editors on my side to help me with the constructive criticism. There are some really valuable negative reviews out there, but for myself, I just know I need to avoid them." - Lauren Morrill, author of Meant to Be.

"I read them all, with intense interest! If they’re linkable to, I put a link on Twitter, perhaps quoting something that sounds silly out of context. I don’t comment on reviews, although I feel free to blog about snarky articles, if they get up my nose. They’re helpful in a general sort of way, mostly in reminding me that I can’t please everyone. Although I’m fairly well past trying to do that." - Margo Lanagan, author of The Brides of Rollrock Island

"I don’t think reviews have anything to do with me, or are meant to help me, but I’ve read a couple that made me look at my writing from a new angle. That was helpful, and really cool." - Dan Krokos, author of False Memory

"I've written tons of articles and columns online, and have been blogging since 1999. Not everybody loves what I do. I don't read reviews unless I stumble across them. I don't comment on negative reviews. I don't love everything I read, and it's OK by me if people don't love my work. Most of my experience, though, has been really good. I love it when readers reach out, and I am grateful for how much time people spend creating thoughtful and interesting blogs." - Martha Brockenbrough, author of Devine Intervention

"I do read most of my reviews as I find them. It's hard not to obsess a little over negative reviews. I know a lot of writers swear they don't read them or don't care and that may or may not be true. I have little use for mean reviews -- either of my own work or of other people's. Reviews that don't seem to understand a book are frustrating. You know, often it's a matter of style or taste and while I do benefit in the larger sense from seeing what people react to, I think ultimately it's about doing the work and telling a story as honestly and effectively as I know how. That said -- a number of readers (myself included!) expressed great frustration for the eye-damaging cursive font that my publisher first used for Anastasia's journal entries in Dreaming Anastasia. This was hard for me to read in reader reviews (and not something pre-pub readers saw because it wasn't like that in the arc) because it was something over which I had zero control. But what was awesome was that eventually about a year later, Sourcebooks actually changed the font and the new very readable font was one that I got to pick!" - Joy Peble, author of Anastasia Forever

"I read reviews, but don’t actively seek them out.  Whether good or bad, by the time a review comes out, I am at least one or two manuscripts further down the line so I have more immediate things to consider.  And again, whether good or bad, there’s nothing I can do about them, anyway." - Greg Leitich Smith, author of Chronal Engine

"I read everything! For better or for worse. But I've definitely found constructive bits in middling or negative reviews that I've thought about in future projects. I don't respond to reviews, unless they're tweeted at me or emailed to me by the reviewer." - Kirsten Hubbard, author of Wanderlove.

"I deleted my Goodreads account recently because I realized that I am too sensitive to reviews. They can either spoil or make my day, which is totally ridiculous, but I'm wired strangely. I used to read them and thought they were helpful to me, but after some time I realized it was driving me insane trying to please everyone, and it couldn't be done. I feel like reviews and Goodreads are great . . . but they're for readers. Authors should just run away, far, far away." - Cyn Balog, author of Touched

"I read all reviews because I MUST KNOW what people are saying about my work. But I don’t react, at least not publicly. Readers are entitled to their responses to a book. I can’t say that I’ve found them particularly helpful, as most that I’ve encountered criticized certain stylistic choices I made, which are really a matter of personal taste. But the ones which critique my craft—that my dialogue didn’t sound right or my plot felt telegraphed—those just fire me up to work harder in the next book.." - Dayna Lorentz, author of No Safety in Numbers

"I avoid reviews. I’m not built for them, honestly. Too thin-skinned. And I’ve rarely found them helpful to me as a writer. These days folks tend to confuse the word 'review”'with what amounts to a reader’s 'reaction.' For example, a neighbor may tell you she loved the new Adam Sandler movie, that’s a personal reaction – valid, for what it is – but not a review, which should aspire to something deeper and more elusive. In the blogworld, we see long, thoughtful, analytical reviews and a lot of superficial gloss: a plot summary and a sentence of opinion." - James Preller, author of Before You Go

"As a policy, I try to avoid negative reviews and if I do see one, I choose not to comment. Everyone has a right to their opinion. I write my stories with the hope that people will love and connect with my characters, but I understand that taste in fiction is intensely personal." - Katie McGarry, author of Pushing the Limits

"I try not to read reviews. People seem to be very opinionated about novels in verse and I understand that they aren’t for every reader—even though I enjoy reading them." - Sarah Tregay, author of Love and Leftovers

"We read all reviews, the good, the bad and the ugly. Interestingly, many of the negative ones, while difficult to stomach, have provided some of the most constructive criticism we’ve received. They offer an unvarnished, candid take on what can be improved in our work and that can be a very valuable takeaway for the next novel. Other times, the bad reviews are simply venom spewed by someone who doesn’t get or doesn’t like our writing and there’s nothing to gain from it. Those are more easily dismissed." - Stacy Kramer & Valerie Thomas, co-authors of From What I Remember

Come back Thursday to find out whether the rest of the authors read reviews of their books!
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