Should authors read reviews about their books?

Sunday, May 24, 2015
   I always hear authors talking about how reviews are just for people who are looking for something to read and that it's not really meant for the authors. While I agree with that, I think that maybe it could be for them. I consider reviews constructive criticism. It can be used to help them improve on their writing skills. But then there are some (not all) authors who go bananas after someone gives their book a low
rating. If they take a review personally, then they should definitely stay clear of them. There was an incident last year where an author stalked a reviewer for giving her book a one star rating. It was such a big shock to the blogging community. I even got scared that it could happen to me or anybody.

   This is not the first incident that I have heard of. There was another time when an author and her agent went off on a blogger for also giving her book a low rating. And how they started giving reviews of 4 or 5 stars a "like" on Goodreads. As well as another author who created a bingo card that sort of made fun of the way some bloggers reviewed books. Like how some people use too many gifs. I decided not to read her book after that.

   I know that reviewers can sometimes be very mean and harsh on their reviews that they start attacking not just the book but the author as well. And that's not okay. There is a line that should not be crossed. 

   I have seen authors talking about how when they read negative reviews of their books that it can be hurtful for them to see so I know that reading reviews might not be for every author. But then others talk about how it brings them joy to see reader's enjoy their books.

   Whenever I write a review, I always tweet out the link to the author if it's 4 stars or above. I don't think it's okay when people rate a book like 3 stars or below and they tag the author. I find that to be disrespectful. I mean they are spreading the word about the book. But when the authors sees that, it can be hurtful. Every author knows that not everyone is going to love their book. But when someone directly sends them a link to a negative review, I don't think that's right.

   Maybe some authors will be thankful that they took their time to write the review either way. And they'll be cool about it. But it still might be hurtful to others and can bring them down.

   There were some bloggers talking about how they don't ever send their reviews to authors because even if it's a good star rating of a book, their might be things they talk about that they didn't like in the book. And that would hurt the feelings of the author. It kind of got me thinking if I should even be tagging the author. Everyone seems to have different opinions about it.


   Here Are Some Of My Thoughts from Both Sides:

Yes Factors:
  • Reviews can help authors better understand what the readers are looking for.
  • Authors can improve their writing.
  • They are motivation.
No Factors:
  • Bad reviews make authors want to go back into the story and edit it.
  • They exist ONLY for readers to connect and discuss what worked and what didn’t.
  • They shouldn’t affect the outcome of the book.
  • Negative reviews can ruin someone's whole day.

What do you think — should authors read their own reader reviews?

13 comments:

  1. I think it depends on the author. Some authors can handle constructive criticism and some can't. I think authors who can't handle it, won't read them.

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    1. It really does!! But even if it's a negative review, the author has to know, regardless, that us readers are still purchasing their book and so we are helping them out as well.

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  2. Yes! I NEVER tag an author if I didn't like the book. I don't want to hurt their feelings. I would hope most authors have trusted editors and friends around them to help them grow as authors. It might be helpful but I see more potential for hurt, UNLESS of course it's a positive review! Authors need enocuragement!

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    1. I've always been known to tag authors with my reviews but now I'm not sure if I should even tag them at all. Because even when I talk about something negative of the book, I always try to say it in a gentle manner. But even that could still hurt the author :/

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  3. I completely agree with everything you said, Karina! There are some cases when authors have found my not-so-positive reviews on their books and were respectful about it, but there are a few (like the examples you gave) whose buttons are easily pushed. And yes, people who tag authors in their low rating reviews should think twice before they tweet.

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    1. I'd probably feel bad if an author found a negative review of mine on their book that's why I've sort of had a change of heart. But then it brings me joy when an author tells me they loved my review!

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  4. Loved your post and totally agree with you! I usually tag the authors, if I loved their book and it's a review with 4 or 5 stars, because I think they should know. It worked out pretty well so far and mainly the authors are really happy to read that I loved their book (who wouldn't want to read good stuff about their work?)... So I don't think you should stop that, because it's encouraging for them, too... I also agree with you that one shouldn't tag authors with bad reviews, as well as one should write respectfully about what one didn't like about a book. In the end everyone has a different taste, so it's ok to not like books, but that doesn't mean you're allowed to be abusive in your review!

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    1. Thank you! I agree, I've never tagged an author with a review below the 3 star rating. And I've also been seeing people post their negative opinions on authors Facebook pages which is so disrespectful that I don't even know what they were thinking.

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  5. Karina,

    You make great points. We (authors) can most definitely learn from reviews and *obviously* they are a huge part of what gets our books in the hands of readers, so they are appreciated so much!

    However, reading *all* (or tons) of them continually can be a (pardon my not-too-cute way of explaining it) time suck (takes away from writing/editing/ect.), as well as a put-down, since not everyone is going to absolutely LOVE our books!

    "Well, that's to be expected!", you say? I totally agree. But here's an example I used a while back: reading every review is like going to each person you see every day and asking if they like your outfit. There's going to be some "eh"s, some "it's great"s!, some "not my style', and who knows what else (some meaner, some nicer). The continual "look to them to see what they think" can lead to a roller coaster of emotions as you hear what each person thinks about something YOU put together. Which then takes away from writing (a lot of times), because if you *are* hurt (over and over) you tend to either pick your current writing apart, or feel like quitting, or, well, tons of things. Not only that, but it can take the author's eye off the reason for writing the book their working on: the fact that that story needed to be written. Now, they've got "what ifs" and "last time, they thought thises" and whatnot making them second-guess themselves.

    Does that always happen? No. But it can pretty easily if one reads tons of negative reviews. (The same would happen if you decorated your house and loved it and people kept saying they thought the inside was ugly. At first, you'd be able to shake it off, but after a while?)

    Sometimes it helps to show readers what it's like on the other side. So while I agree that we should read our reviews because readers have been so kind as to take the time to share how they felt, I think there has to be some serious balancing with it.

    As for your referencing tagging authors in your tweets, that's so nice and can totally make someone's day! Sometimes we aren't sure what to say, so we don't respond... especially when the review is not a kind one. (I mean, it *is* a business, so most authors aren't going to RT every negative review they get, if you know what I mean.) But most appreciate the tags, even if they don't respond, because not only does that potentially get their books in front of more people, but it usually also brings them more followers! :)

    Jessica

    P.S. I think constructive criticism is always nice in a review. It's also pretty obvious to anyone reading the review that you're analyzing something you think needs fixing, not harping on the author and saying, "YOU ARE THE WORST!"

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    1. Those are amazing fine points you make. I can definitely see why some authors might not want to read their book reviews. I honestly think if I was an author, I'd be one of those who would be tempted to read my book reviews and be hurt by the negative reviews. And I honestly hope that no author quits because a review brought them down :(

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  6. You have some great points and while it would be hard to read a negative review, I'm with you on it being constructive criticism too.

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    1. Thank you! I find writing negative reviews to be the hardest. I hate saying things I don't like because I feel like I'm being mean or something. But I always say things in a gentle manner.

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