Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Should an author read reviews? Here's what Anne has to say.

Anne here on authors reading reviews.

If reading reviews hurts you as a writer, then don't do it. Nobody says you have to read reviews and there are plenty of good reasons not to do anything that hurts you. Reviews are written for other readers, not for writers anyway. Myself I do read any and every review at least once.

You can't control what you "believe." A good review, a negative review, any review might ring a bell with you, teach you something, inspire you in some way. Or you can be blocked by what you read in a review. Again, you cannot control what you "believe," or what you feel.

But you are in control of your work; and your obligation, as I see it, is to write the best book that you can write according to your standards. That's what I think my readers want of me. They want me to be true to my own judgment, my own passion, my own voice. And do the best I can.

Yes, different readers will have different reactions. That's a given, especially today with 360 degree internet exposure for a book. Authors have to live with this. But you must forge ahead with courage and respect for your own passion.

I'm honored that Lestat is so real to people that they fight with me about what he would do or say on occasion. That's a wonderful thing, to have it confirmed that your character is real for people. That doesn't mean I'm not hurt when some people slam me for the choices that Lestat makes or that I make with him. Of course I'm hurt. But I keep right on going.

Again, there is no winning a perfectly happy audience. If you think there is, choose any book you positively loved by George R.R. Martin or Stephen King and read the negative reviews of that book on Amazon. 

The creation of a fictional world requires courage, stubbornness, a great quiet faith in oneself, and a ruthless on the part of the writer to protect herself from what is harmful. And again, reviews aren't written for us; they're written for other readers. We may bristle at the seeming "unfairness" of a review; but we must move on from that. 

When you do want critical feedback on your work, choose teachers or critics whom you trust for specific reasons. It is your right to be very careful in this regard. Protecting your talent and your morale are your responsibility.

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