So I have been obsessively checking my reviews lately. I’m not sure why, it’s not like I get a lot of them. It has just become an automatic thing for me, and I know I need to stop. Mostly, they are positive, although a lot of people seem to think my work is odd, somehow. I am a little bothered by this, and also a little happy about it.
I have always been odd, I guess. And like many people who have been hurt and excluded, bullied and teased, I clung to my oddness as a kind of security blanket. My quirkiness put me in my own clique, and let me laugh at those who could never understand me.
But now I’ve taken my own brand of weirdness and published it. And in so doing, I have basically invited everyone to talk about me… to judge me. Luckily, I have not had any horrible, mean, scathing reviews. I’d like to think this is because my work is awesome, but I’ve read too many really bad reviews of really good books to believe that.
So anyway, here is the catalyst for this blog post:
For my book ‘Taming the Fox”, there was a reviewer who basically sold my book for me. I mean it was a really great review. Well written, intelligent, mostly positive, just nice. It wasn’t over-the-top gushing, which is good, (I always ignore 5 star reviews when buying books, myself) but he clearly enjoyed the book and wrote about why in a clear and detailed way. I don’t know who he is, but it was an awesome review and I know it made people buy the book. I was so grateful!!
Then, last week, he wrote a review for “Roadblock”. It was not as positive. It was still a “good” review, I guess… he gave three stars and said it as well written and overall good, but he also stated his disappointment. Now, I know (because I read this review very carefully like a dozen times) that the main issue was he just didn’t care for the book. The subject, the characters, the plot were just not his favorite. So there’s not much I can take from it, in terms of improving my work. Mostly, I just felt bad that I had displeased him. As if I had done something wrong. I don’t even know this person!!! But I was really sorry about disappointing him. Which is kind of fucked up.
So then I was thinking about all my reviews, and what they say, and why I care. And I decided in the end that I need to go back to being the person I was before I started obsessively reading my reviews. The person who just wrote down the wacky stories in her head and didn’t really care if they sold or if anyone ever understood them. When I wrote my first stories, I did it for me. I wrote what I wanted to read. I did not set out to make money, or be popular. I just did it for fun and entertainment, because I wanted to.
So the point is, I still want to write for myself. But how can I not care about what people think? I have tried to think of reviewers as sort of “gamma readers” (like one step after beta readers) in order to make them more useful and less hurtful to me. It kind of works.
So I will keep writing, and keep trying to improve. And I will continue to be grateful to everyone who takes the time to write a review, even if it is not glowing.
And I will try to stop checking for new reviews!!!