To Read or Not to Read

Reading reviews of your own book can be an unhealthy occupation. You tend to remember only the bad comments even if the review overall is favourable. If there is only one negative sentence in the whole article, that’s the one your brain tends to zoom in on, forever branded on a wall in your mind under the category of,  ‘you’ll never be good’. All favourable comments will be swept aside with that one yucky sentence. Unreasonably too, you begin to have a personal grudge against the person posting it.

So, is it better not to read reviews of your own books?

I don’t read newspapers or watch or listen to the news anymore. I know that if it’s a big story I’ll hear about it anyway. Being a full time writer I am always working on a book and need to keep my focus. These days, the news is full of disasters, murders, death and how terrible man is to man, and of course there’s sport. Every time I used to read the newspaper I would be left with a sickening feeling and thoughts of – We are all doomed. What’s the point of it all?

Where is the good stuff? The stories that inspire, that make you want to rush out and share in the goodness by helping a stranger? Good breeds good.

Getting back to reviews then. Reading reviews of your own books can either leave you asking, ‘what’s the point of it all?’ if it’s a bad one.

Or inspire you to write and write and write some more like this one has.

10 thoughts on “To Read or Not to Read

  1. So true, Gabrielle! I remember reading a review of Secrets of Eromanga and the reviewer had lots of good things to say about the story and my writing etc, but the one negative thing she said is all I remember about it and that was 4 years ago. Dumb, I know!
    PS Can’t imagine anyone saying anything negative about your stories!

  2. I wish I had your discipline not to read reviews but what if you are a glutton for punishment…that’s me. But it is so true. You end up wondering what was up with the reviewer and create all sorts of stories in your head about their very bad days and almost begin to feel sorry for them. How weird is that?
    Anyway, Hi Gabi. I enjoyed seeing your note stream by on my facebook conversations. Just back from Israel. It was amazing. Hugs…Jody

    1. Hi Jody. I’m sure you had an amazing time in Israel.
      No, I do read reviews. I am compelled to by my egotistical/masochistic nature. I am beginning to think that negative comments in a review reflect more about the reviewer than the book itself. Well, I would like to think that was so.

  3. I thought it was only me, Gabrielle! You are so right about remembering the one negative sentence in a good review, and the feeling that somehow the positive things don’t count in the same way. And then there’s knowing off by heart the worst review you ever had. “Goopily sentimental, drearily didactic, with not a single emotion un-telegraphed or story trope un-pilfered, this forced effort will appeal to only the most unsophisticated romantic.” That was a review of Clair-de-Lune. I’m sorry to say that I WILL NEVER FORGET IT.
    P.S. I’ve given up the news too.

    1. I can’t believe that someone would write that about any book and especially not about Claire-de-Lune. Its plain they were just showing off how clever they were at using all those funny words in the one sentence.

  4. Lovely review for a lovely book, Gabi,

    I have to agree with you about the comments reflecting more about the reviewer than the book.

    I had a review of Letters to Leonardo that reminded me of the time my dog attacked the Thai Chilli plant in the backyard. She is always picking the strawberries and eating them. She must have bitten into a chilli thinking it might taste nice and as far as she was concerned, it bit her back so she totally destroyed the bush. The review I had was really lovely at first. Then it became obvious that the reviewer had taken it personally the way I had ended the story and her attack became almost vitriolic. It was as if she had turned on me for what I had done to one of the characters in my book.

    It’s human nature that we can’t help reading our reviews but I agree that we need to try and keep some perspective.


    1. The book didn’t go the way the reviewer was wanting it to hence the vehement attack, Dee.
      In one of my reviews for Little Paradise the reviewer criticised the book for not having much info about the baby. I could have included heaps of stuff having raised two of my own but purposely left it out as there was so much other stuff to write about instead that would keep the story moving. I also didn’t think that it was something teenage girls are particularly interested in. I think that comment says a lot about the reviewer though.

  5. I think it’s important to read reviews because if all the reviewers have the same criticism, there may be something in it, and we can always learn. That said, opinions are subjective. As you said, reviews often say more about the reviewer than the book itself. Someone recently said that my book would make good toilet paper. It didn’t bother me because I know that person’s views – in fact, if I wrote a book she approved of, I’d really worry.
    Congratulations on the lovely review in Inkrush!

    1. What you say is true, Robyn. We can learn from ‘some’ reviewers’ comments. But I don’t see the point in insulting comments like the one you received. So totally uncalled for. Why write a review at all then?

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