How I View Reviewing

Katherine Longshore 5 Tuesday, April 09, 2013

I’ve never been a reviewer.  I joined Goodreads so I can keep track of the books I’ve read and when I finish them.  I don’t review on Amazon.  I’ve let my NetGalley participation lapse.  Here on the YA Muses, we call our monthly feature a Book Blog, not a review.  We talk about books.  We talk about what books we’re reading, why we’re reading them and what we like about them. 

It’s not that I don’t have opinions.  I have strong feelings, likes and dislikes.  I can give good, clear reasons for why I think one book has literary merit or another is a cracking good read, but perhaps not award-winning prose.  But I have different reasons for loving a book (or not loving it).  There have been brilliantly-written, loudly-acclaimed novels that I have had trouble finishing because I didn’t like the characters.  And I adore a good, fast, funny mystery as much as the next person, whether or not Kirkus would give it a star.

So why do I worry when my books get reviewed?  Why do I take it so personally when an industry review is less than glowing?  Or when a Goodreads reader slams it for being what it is and not what they wanted to read?  Why do I agonize over the one-star ratings? 

I’ve done the trick where I find a book that I absolutely loved, that gets glowing comments from other writers and many readers, and I read the one-star reviews for that book.  I completely disagree with what those reviewers said.  I respect their opinions, I certainly don’t think they’re unintelligent or misinformed.  I can often see why they say the things they do, I just don’t agree.  And this makes me feel better.

For about a minute.

For a while last year, I believed that the most critical reviews of GILT revealed the truth about it.  That it truly was all the things these readers said.  That my own vision of my book was catastrophically wrong and that I was too poor a writer to make the story I intended to write shine through.  That somehow, I had failed.

It took me a long time to be able to accept my book for what it is.  To love my book for the reasons that I love it.  To remember why I wrote it and what I intended and then stand back and let other people read their own interpretation of it.  I can’t hover over them and say, but don’t you see?  This sentence encapsulates the entire point of the novel!  I have to let them enjoy it—or not—based on their own experiences, their own backgrounds, their own desires and their own visions.  I have to let go, because once my book is released into the world, it is not my own anymore.  It belongs to every reader, and I have to let them do with it what they may.

My second book is about to go out into the world.  I love this book, too.  It was harder to write; it came from a deeper place emotionally.  I lived with these characters in my head like they were parts of me and my best friends.  It will hurt when people don’t love it—don’t love them—as much as I do.  I hope I have managed to grow a thicker skin.  I need to appreciate (and believe!) the reviews that are glowing.  I need to honor the readers who reach out to me personally to tell me how my book touched them on a deep, emotional level. 

But I need to let every reader experience the book in their own way—like it or not. 


Okay so here I come with one of my favorite movie quotes, "It's easier to believe the bad stuff." Pretty Woman Julia Roberts.

And it is. It sticks with us and drowns out all those four and five star reviews all the compliments, anything nice anyone has ever said about your writing. (not that I have any experience with that I'm just putting myself in your shoes).

And then, I'm pretty sure one of you have stated that even JK Rowling has negative reviews for her series and was rejected many times by big publishing houses. So try to remember these are opinions, especially on Goodreads. And just enjoy the release of your book.


Thank you, Heather! I think a lot of us have that problem--bad stuff sticks. But you're right, the good stuff should win in the end.

I read GILT and loved it!

I've found that with nearly everything - be it a hair product, a pair of shoes, a book - there will always be someone for whom it just doesn't work. And that's fine. I've learned to skip over the overly negative book reviews and read mostly the positive ones, because for the most part it seems the negative reviewers are just plain nitpicky!

Thank you, Cassandra! And bravo, being able to skip the negative reviews! I'm still working on that one. It definitely helps to remember that I love my characters, and nothing can change that!

I think all Goodreads reviewers should start with this premise: It's not my book, I didn't write it, here is the story the WRITER is telling, whether I like the story or not. Followed by: here is what I like, what I don't and why (within the context of the story). Way too many diatribes take place on Goodreads, in my opinion.
But perhaps any art-of-reviewing (major to minor) is not the point of Goodreads...

Post a Comment

Grid_spot theme adapted by Lia Keyes. Powered by Blogger.


discover what the Muses get up to when they're not Musing

an ever-growing resource for writers

Popular Musings

Your Responses

Fellow Musers