You Can Read Your Reviews
by Sera Trevor
Authors—especially new ones—are often advised to avoid reading their reviews. Negative reviews will be too disheartening, they say. Besides, reviews are for readers, not authors! Best to leave them alone and focus on writing.
But I’ve discovered that, actually, you CAN read your reviews. And I’m going to show you how!
First, you’ll need a few things:
One alcoholic beverage.
You want something stronger than a beer, but don’t go too crazy—and for god’s sake, stay away from anything blue. I find that a nice glass of chardonnay or a gin and tonic is about right. And remember, you only get one.
Two oven mitts, or a pair of mittens.
Basically, you need some sort of glove that’s going to make it difficult to type.
Once you have your equipment ready, it’s time to read your reviews! Turn on your electronic device of choice and pull up your book’s page. Now put on your oven mitts—these will prevent you from burning down your career in a fit of pique. Ready? Okay!
First, sort your reviews by star. Read the four and five star ones first—and I mean, really read them. Read them several times. Read them out loud. Memorize them. People liked your book! Isn’t that great?! Take a celebratory sip of your alcoholic beverage.
Now sort for three star reviews. Hey, you know that you didn’t send a perfect product into the world. And everyone knows that the only way to learn is through mistakes, right? It’s a good thing you read your reviews—so many people have thoughtfully pointed them out. Take some notes, if you can manage to hold a pen while still wearing your oven mitts. Or don’t—the mistakes are probably burned into your mind now, anyway! Take a soothing sip of your alcoholic beverage.
And now it’s time for the bad reviews. Take a bracing sip of your alcoholic beverage.
Bad reviews might seem scary, but once you understand the types of bad reviews, you will see there is nothing to fear. These are the categories:
“Hey,” the reviewer says. “I thought that this pizza was going to be pineapple, and it turns out it’s pepperoni! I hate pepperoni!” This kind of review cannot possibly hurt your feelings. You and the reviewer just have different tastes! It doesn’t matter if only a deranged individual would put fruit on a pizza—that’s their business, not yours.
The reviewer is confused.
“I was with this story until the rabid space dogs started attacking people,” the reviewer says. “That doesn’t make any sense—clearly the dogs would have been quarantined before they were released to Earth.” But wait a minute—your book didn’t contain any rabid space dogs! The reviewer mixed your book up with another, or fell into a fever dream while reading your book and didn’t realize it. That’s frustrating, but other readers will come along and figure it out.
You screwed up.
Everyone makes mistakes. You already know this from reading your three star reviews. But sometimes, you make a really, really big mistake, and reviewers are annoyed. Enraged, even. But look at it this way: if you had your skirt tucked into your underwear, would you want someone to point it out, or would you rather your butt remain exposed? There’s no untucking the skirt at this point, but you’ll remember to always check that your ass is covered from this point on.
It’s a troll.
Sorry to say, but it’s probably not a troll. I know it’s tempting to believe that the only possible way someone could dislike your book is if they were being deliberately contrary, but review sites are not very fertile grounds for trolling. (Unless there is already a large fan base for the troll to pick fights with, in which case you probably don’t need this guide.) That is, unless that troll is looking to start a fight with you, specifically. If that’s the case, it means…
You’ve made an enemy.
And isn’t that sort of exciting? You’re like Batman now!
Phew! That was exhausting, but also pretty thrilling, right? You can go ahead and chug the rest of your alcoholic beverage now—you deserve it!
So there you have it—a foolproof guide for reading your reviews. Now that you have the hang of it, you can do it whenever you want. However, just like drinking alcohol, reading reviews is something that you should do in moderation.
About Sera Trevor
Sera Trevor is terminally curious and views the thirty-five book limit at her local library as a dare. She’s a little bit interested in just about everything, which is probably why she can’t pin herself to one subgenre. Her books are populated with dragons, vampire movie stars, shadow people, and internet trolls. (Not in the same book, obviously, although that would be interesting!) Her works have been nominated for several Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards, including Best Contemporary, Best Fantasy, and Best Debut, for which she won third prize in 2015 for her novella Consorting with Dragons.
She lives in California with her husband, two kids, and a cat the size of three cats. You can keep up with her new releases and gain access to bonus content by signing up for her newsletter here.