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Thursday, July 5, 2012

More Author Insight: Negative Reviews

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

"I stopped seeking out reviews a number of years ago. If someone points me to one or shows me one, I'll read it, but generally I try not to pay attention. The thing is, when a book is reviewed…it's done. And very few reviews contain the sort of information that carries from one book to another. So even if I agreed with someone's criticism, there's not much I can do about it. Plus… Look, my books are all flawed. I'll be the first to admit it and the first to point out the flaws. But most negative reviews totally miss the actual flaws, so I just can't take them seriously." - Barry Lyga, author of I Hunt Killers

"I am hardwired to take the negative more seriously than the positive, and always to want to fix it next time.  So, yes, they are helpful." - Huntley Fitzpatrick, author of My Life Next Door

"I don't read reviews. I'm too busy writing the next book." - C.J. Redwine, author of Defiance.

"Authors and editors advised me before I was published to never read them. So far, I’m grateful our professional reviews from the newspapers, journals and sites have been amazing." - Lissa Price, author of Starters. 

"I used to read all of them but found it frustrating. Really, I don’t get a lot of negative reviews, but the ones I’ve read have always made me wonder if the reviewers actually read the book. Their comments seemed so far left field.  I tell myself everyone is entitled to their opinion. We don’t all like the same songs. (Some tasteless people, for example, enjoy the song Hotel California—which is a creepy song about a hotel that people can’t escape from. Um, yeah, that’s something you want to belt out when you’re singing in the shower.) We’re not all going to like the same books. That’s okay. Smart people like mine. I’m good with that.use party where they met the president. I got back three leads. How awesome is that?" - Janette Rallison (AKA C.J. Hill), author of Erasing Time

"I actually try to avoid reading negative reviews whenever I can, so I can’t really say if they’re particularly helpful…and I certainly would never respond to a negative one! That being said, even if the review is negative, I’ll always be glad that someone picked up my book in the first place!" - Sarah Maas, author of Throne of Glass

"I don't think there's anything helpful about reading reviews. Good or bad, they get in my head and interfere with my process. There's enough doubt and second-guessing that goes into writing anyway. Whenever I get the itch to check Goodreads, I go to Pinterest instead." - Leigh Bardugo, author of Shadow and Bone

"I read the negative reviews. If a fair number of people express a similar concern, it’s definitely worth thinking about why they feel that way. But I don’t think it’s helpful to obsess over them.  It’s important to be discerning about who you listen to, because criticism is painful (but of course vital). I have been lucky to find close friends and editors and an agent who are all really hard and frank with me, and who I trust deeply. If they are all super excited about something I’ve done, (or not), I take it to heart. It wouldn’t make sense to take as gospel a review by someone you don’t know at all. Then you’re just trying to please everyone, and then you’re not making art, just commerce. You create something for you and your people, my people in this case being the teens who gravitate to my work. I have been lucky to get some really positive feedback on my work, to have fans who vibe on the same things I do, and conversely, I’ve gotten some really negative feedback where people completely don’t enjoy what I’m doing. If I’m getting the former, I can endure the latter."  - Kevin Emerson, author of The Lost Code

"I read all reviews I come across, but I don't respond.  That just seems like an easy way to get yourself into trouble.  Instead I try to take the negative aspects as objectively as possible and see if there might be something I can learn from there." - Jessi Kirby, author of In Honor

"I read very few reviews. I did once see a negative comment that helped me avoid a certain crutch phrase in my next book—so they can be helpful in that sense. Negative reviews aren’t helpful if they’re just one reader’s personal take, or if they’re about how they wish you had written a different book. The thing is, for every review that might say something like, “The author shouldn’t have ended the story with the exploding car,” there’s another review out there that says, 'The exploding car was the perfect final note!' (By the way, none of my books end with an exploding car.)" - Jennifer Hubbard, author of Try Not to Breathe.

"I was a publicist for years before becoming an author so I was prepared for criticism. Every author gets criticized, it’s part of putting yourself out there. I don’t actively seek out reviews – good or bad – but if I do read something that has thoughtful criticism (as opposed to 'this author is what’s wrong with the world'), I take note. I haven’t read or heard anything that has changed my process or how I write, but I have seen things that I can understand where the reviewer was coming from. But I try to not let any of it get to me." - Elizabeth Eulberg, author of Take a Bow.

"I avoid reviews as best as I can, but in this age of social media, it's difficult when someone Tweets their review at you. I don't react to negative reviews—and I think it's bad policy for anyone to react, even if a review is factually incorrect or personally insulting. It's just going to make you look petty, and a Tweet or comment shot off out of anger will come back to haunt you. There's absolutely no way to react to a negative review gracefully." - Cara Lynn Shultz, author of Spellcaster

On Tuesday, find out what the authors think are their biggest writerly faults!

1 comment:

  1. And Loudly Flows the Styx

    The spirits of the dead traversed the Styx,
    That “woeful river,” foul and toxic stream.
    Some melancholy Greek devised the scheme:
    Charon collected coins from dead men’s mouths,
    Then ferried them through suppurating steam.

    Today our own Styx flourishes again,
    Devised by many a Yankee evildoer:
    Great novels clog the literary sewer
    Consigned there by some boneheaded factotum—
    The witless hack known grandly as “Reviewer.”