It’s still over a year before RUMP will be released, but that hasn’t stopped me from thinking ahead about what all that entails, from school visits to online presence to how my book will be received by readers. The subject of authors reading their own reviews is something I have thought about a lot.
Opinions vary widely in the writing community. Some authors argue it’s important to develop a tough skin and dive into those reviews and gain insight from both the positive and negative reviews, while other authors choose to avoid their reviews like the plague, not just for the sake of their ego, but their craft as well.
So where does my opinion fall? For now I lean more toward the camp of not reading reviews of my own book, particularly on social sites like Goodreads. Why? For one, I don’t need the neurosis. I can’t think of anything more maddening, not to mention pointless, than searching for criticism on something I can’t change. The book is published, finished. Even if a reviewer has a valid point, or a good idea about what could have made the book better, I can’t make it better. So why torture myself?
Would the negative reviews make me a better writer with future books? Doubtful. There isn’t a book under the sun that hasn’t fallen under condemnation. Try and find one. You will fail, especially with the advent of Goodreads.* Most of the negative reviews I read are so arbitrary, not to mention vague in their reasoning, any author would be hard-pressed to glean good advice from them.
This isn’t to say that I can’t take criticism. I can and I do. In fact, I actively seek it out. But choosing whom you will take criticism from is just as important, if not more important, as being open to criticism in the first place. I can’t take into account everyone’s opinion while writing a book. That’s like trying to take all the advice out there on how to raise a perfect child; in the end you will have pleased no one, and in the process you will drive yourself insane, ruin your child, and slaughter your book. Talk about counterproductive.
I have surrounded myself with smart and experienced people whose advice I trust, people who have a solid foundation in literature, who understand my particular genre, who know how to articulate what isn’t working and why, and perhaps most importantly, people who believe in my ability as a writer. I open myself up to their feedback and criticism and I do my best to improve my work based on the opinions that resonate with my vision. My goal isn’t to please everyone. My goal is to simply say what I mean to say in the clearest, more engaging way possible.
I’m at the tail-end of the editorial process for RUMP. We’re doing all we can to make it fun and wonderful and perfect, but when it’s done, it’s done. We’ll release RUMP into the world like a bunch of balloons (preferably with balloons.) Hopefully he’ll float far and wide into the hands of eager readers. I can’t say that I’ll never read any reviews or hear anyone’s opinion; it probably can’t be entirely avoided, but I don’t think I’ll actively seek them out. I’ll love the people who love RUMP and I hope they’ll let me know all the things they love about the story, but for those who don’t like him, forgive me if I ignore you. You might as well tell me my kids are ugly.**
How about you? Do you/Will you/Would you read your own reviews? Why or why not?
*I think Goodreads is great, really. I use it and love it and think it’s a wonderful tool for readers. I just think a lot of the reviews to be found there are poison for authors.
**My kids are freakin’ gorgeous!