My poor neglected blog! It’s been two months since my last post, and while I wish I could promise a return to regular entries, I have been busy doing things like writing my next book and traveling and napping, so entries will remain sporadic. But. This is not a blog about why I’m not blogging.
Two and a half months ago, THE GIRL BEFORE hit shelves. But even before that I had started receiving reviews from those who had advanced copies, readers, bloggers, trade publications. At first, I read every word. The glowing to the harsh and everything in between. The trade publications were generally positive. The reader reviews were also overwhelmingly positive, but there were some negative ones mixed in.
Guess which ones I focused on.
It didn’t seem to matter how many positive reviews I had. The negative ones stuck out, seized me with their claws and wouldn’t let go. And that’s when I made my decision. By the time release day rolled around, I was done reading reviews.
My reasoning for avoiding reviews is two-fold. First, most obviously, for my own mental health. I know myself well enough to know where my focus goes. I think this is human nature, this focus on the negative, but some are better than others at letting it roll off them. I was getting better, but it wasn’t good enough. And in the end, my book was out there. While critique is helpful in the writing and editing stages, there was zip I could do about a reader’s displeasure with the structure of the book or a particular character once the book was on the shelves. All I was doing was sabotaging my own ability to write the next book that many would love and a few would probably hate. It wasn’t good for me, and it wasn’t good for my creativity.
The second reason was because of the readers. I was reminding everyone how helpful reviews are, and I didn’t want anyone to feel like they couldn’t give an honest review because I might read it and get mad. Of course I hope that everyone will love the book, but I wanted people to feel free to say what they really thought, warts and all, without fear that it would hurt my feelings. What I don’t read can’t hurt my feelings. Reviews are really for other readers, not to stroke an author’s ego. They’re the best way someone roaming around Goodreads or Amazon or any other site with reviews has to figure out what might interest them, or how a book they’ve heard buzz about is resonating with other readers, not just in the publishing industry.
And so if I need to hop on for any reason, I get in and get out as quickly as possible. It’s nearly impossible not to view my star rating, but I avoid the rest. I have friends and family who read my reviews and will screencap their favorites and send them to me, so I do get to see some of the more glowing reviews, and they fill my heart with happy.
The best part has been those people who have reached out to me through Twitter or email or FB messages or Instagram or my blog to tell me they loved the book. When I’m having a low night, I search #TheGirlBefore on Instagram and it buoys me. I have had some amazing conversations with strangers who have opened up to me after connecting to my book, and those connections are worth all the stars.
I know there are some authors who read every review, and I am amazed at their mental stamina. Reviews are so important, and I’m grateful to every person who has left one for TGB, and I’m sorry I can’t thank you individually because I won’t see them. I’m always available to hear your thoughts, just not on those forums.
Other authors out there, what do you think? Do you read your reviews? Do you avoid them like the plague?