The Blessing and the Curse of Reviews

I am a debut author.  I have one book out, with a smattering of reviews, most good.  In fact, I’ve not gotten anything less than a four star review for my novel, both on Goodreads and Amazon.  Many of those reviews came as part of a review tour, rather than people stumbling upon my book by accident.  And I am grateful for those reviews, for sure.

But I also have come to understand that having a handful of reviews means nothing in today’s publishing world.  Amazon doesn’t notice until you have fifty or so.  Until then, I’m just invisible.  Which is probably as it should be for a new author.  I am no J.K. Rowling.

Reviews, I think, can be a blessing and a curse.  The struggle to get them is a curse – it is hard to do, and can become an obsession.  When you get a less-than-stellar review, that can wound.  But if you get several less-than-stellar reviews, it might actually mean that your work is not up to par.  That can really set you back, because it can indicate that you need to make some changes in how you write.  Some low reviews can, of course, just be from someone who wasn’t into your genre or didn’t like your cover or didn’t like your main character.  That is always going to happen, and you can probably move on from those and not worry about the larger impact of a string of poor reviews.

But how much stock, really, should we put into reviews we get on our books?  It is fairly well known that I am not a fan of Nora Roberts, who writes in my genre.  I’m not alone, as I’ve read some really low reviews of her work.  Does anyone think that Nora Roberts really cares about the negative reviews all that much?  Does she read them and sob into her cup of tea over them, the way a lesser-known or thinner-skinned author might?  Somehow, I think she doesn’t really care about reviews, and probably rarely reads them or follows them.  After all, she is a prolific writer, and if she was wasting her time reading all the reviews and agonizing over the negative ones, she wouldn’t have the time or energy to write.

So I believe she keeps chugging along writing her novels, because it doesn’t really matter if they are good or not, or people buy them or not, because she’s still going to make money from the people that are her fans.  The only difference between her and I is that she has millions of fans.  I have like, three, and two of those are family.  It’s all relative, right?

I’ve purposely stopped looking at my reviews.  If I get one, and it’s good, that’s great, but I am not going to put all my emotional energy into worrying about the reviews.  I’d rather be writing my next book.  I don’t feel like the good outweighs the bad when it comes to reviews.  And I think it’s wasted energy to spend time on them.

As an author, what do you think?  How important are reviews to you and why?  Leave me your thoughts in a comment!


Fairest of the Faire – available now!

Fairest of the Faire book coverBlurb:

Schoolteacher Connie Meyers is suddenly a young widow, her husband killed in a horrific car accident. Heartbroken to find out he had gambled away everything they had, she moves to her sister-in-law’s Midwest home to rebuild her life. A trip to the local Renaissance Faire with her nieces leads to a summer job as a costumed storyteller.

Avowed bad boy and fair performer Gage Youngblood is infatuated with Connie at first sight. Despite his deliberately commitment-free life, and Connie’s don’t-touch-me attitude, he soon has her in his arms, realizing quickly she is also in his heart.

When she is threatened by her late husband’s bookie, he steps into the role of protector, his fate forever sealed with hers.

Available NOW!

Buy at Wild Rose Press:  (eBook and paperback)

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10 thoughts on “The Blessing and the Curse of Reviews

  1. Nice post, and healthy perspective!

    When I first started my publishing journey, I totally obsessed over reviews. To an unhealthy degree. At this point I’ve received every type of review from glowing to eviscerating… and bad reviews still hurt, but at least I know there are people out there who like my writing. So I’m going to keep writing.

    Reviews are important in the Amazon alogorithms, but beyond that writing the next book and honing your craft is much more important than chasing reviews.

  2. I agree with Katie. Writing the next book is always your best marketing tool. I can’t control who reads or reviews my book (or doesn’t). I can only control the words I put on a page.

  3. I agree with the writers above. Obviously, if you get a string of 2-star or less reviews, I would nudge a writer to think about taking up basket weaving or soap making. (Just kidding.) I don’t spend any time obsessing about reviews and only check them when I have to go into my book links for various reasons.

    • Judy, that is my feeling too. If you do get more than a few terrible reviews, it might be because the writing isn’t what it needed to be. I don’t know if I’d tell them to find another line of work, but I know in my case, it would spur me to take a closer look at my writing and make some needed changes. Criticism always stings, but it should also be a learning experience.

  4. I too agree with Katie. By mid summer
    I will have three books out with a possible 4 th by year end.
    I check reviews once a month. Otherwise. I have other books to write and I love the process of writing a good story.

  5. Not to bring up Nora but when she started there was no Internet. We have the ability to check Amazon 24/7 but we have to resist the urge. I think we have to keep writing writing writing and to hell with reviews. (Sorry I went off and I’m not even published yet.)

    • So true, Charlotte. But even so, I’m sure that she heard the occasional negative review. I don’t care for her writing, I find it a bit sloppy, but I know there are plenty that love her. Either way, she’s still making a bazillion dollars and I’m sure she never reads her reviews these days. 🙂

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