Earlier today, CassaStar author and ninja blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh talked about authors reading reviews of their own books. Should we do it?
A lot of people have different opinions on this one (Alex thinks we should read them, for example) and I thought his was such a great post that I'd chime in.
Euurreaaarrrgh. That's pretty much how I feel about the topic. Should we read what people are saying about our own work? On the one hand, I think, no. We shouldn't. Reviews are written so that readers, or prospective readers, have a sense of what to expect and what other people think of the book. They're not a letter to the author.
But on the other hand, I think, yeah. Sure we should. For the same reasons Alex talks about. Certain things highlighted in a review - praise for excellent writing, for example, or a rant about a horrendously two-dimensional villain - can help an author do as well or better next time. We may get a sense of what worked and what didn't. We can learn a lot from readers' responses to our work.
But then on the third hand, I think, no, we shouldn't read these responses. Because the 'learning a lot' thing can backfire. Spectacularly. Dramatically. Cataclysmically. A lot of other -icallys.
What if you start writing things because you think a reader wants it? What if it takes you away from the story you really need to be writing? I won't mention any specific books here, but there has been many a time that I've got to Book 3 or 4 of a popular series, only to find that things suddenly seem a bit... off. And it seems a little like the author's been reading too many reviews. (Yes, if you're wondering, I do have a morbid fear of this happening to me!)
So should we read reviews of our stuff? Euuuurreaagh just about sums it up.
As for the other question... will I read them anyway?
Hell yes. I won't be able to resist.
What do you think?