As a first time author, I have to admit I'm torn over whether to read reviews or not. Last October I attended a writer's conference, *Imaginarium, where the resounding advice was: "Don't read your reviews. Let your friends read them and give you the highlights." Writers, editors, and publishers alike gave that advice. At the time it seemed sound. It still does.
Yet, I know the value of reviews. In my own life, I've used reviews of movies, books, hotels, restaurants, etc to help guide my purchasing decisions. An insightful evaluation, whether positive or negative, is a useful tool. However, when the comments are about something you wrote or produced, the value and impact of them become quite different.
Let's be honest, it's nice to read all the good things people wrote. It's more than that, it's down right heady. Anything positive said can reassure that part of my muse which is always plagued by self-doubt and harsh self-criticism. Knowing people liked my story, the world I built, and the characters I shared gives me energy as I work on my current project.
The flip-side though, is the more critical reviews, no matter how constructive or instructive, can suck the wind right out of me. There's a danger there in obsessing over what people didn't like, or felt was lacking. It can feed the negative shade that haunts my muse making it all to easy to grab a bag of Dortitos and binge watch the Syfy channel rather than write. Hence, one of the reasons to avoid reviews.
Still, no matter how personally I might be affected by them, reviews really aren't about me. They are about the people who wrote them. Reviewers took the time, not only to read a book, but to write down what they thought about it and share it with the world. I respect that, a lot.
Reviewers are writers too. Writing and posting a review takes time and effort, while at the same time making the poster vulnerable as well. I mean honestly, when they put their opinions out there some people are going to agree with then, some aren't, but mostly others are going to use them as a gauge as to whether or not they want to take a chance on a book.
So, whether or not a review is favorable, I honestly have to say I do appreciate the comments. I truly am grateful for them, all of them. I am deeply grateful to those who took the time to share their thoughts and reactions.
*PS If you are anywhere near the Louisville area, I highly recommend Imaginarium. It's a great conference whether you are an aspiring writer, a published author, a publisher, or editor!