Let me say one thing right up front: I think it’s wonderful that there are so many opportunities on the Internet for readers to review novels they’ve read. I absolutely love being able to check out what other readers think about a book I want to buy. If most of the reviews of a certain book are glowing, I toss out the solo stinker, assuming the reviewer either has an ax to grind or very esoteric taste. Similarly, if most of the reviews are negative, I’ll assume the one or two fabulous reviews are from the author’s mother. If my mom were alive, I know she’d be sending reviews of my books to Amazon under a dozen aliases.
So, reader reviews are a boon to the reading public. However, it’s another matter if you’re the author under scrutiny. I know some authors say they never read reviews of their work, but I don’t believe them. How could they not?? The problem I have is that I tend to read reviews just before bed, after I’ve finished working and am idly surfing the ‘net. I’ll read ten reviews of one of my books on Goodreads, let’s say, or Shelfari. Nine reviews will give the book four or five stars and the tenth will give it three stars. A one star review, I can ignore. I simply assume it was written by the girl whose boyfriend I stole in the 2nd grade. But that three star review. . . hmm. That one gets to me, because I feel as though I failed a reader. I’ll lay awake, thinking about the negative or mediocre review, trying to figure out what I did wrong. Did I really let the middle of the book drag? Was the main character truly too whiny? Did the ending honestly fail to satisfy? What can I learn from the review? I ask myself that last question all the time.
Are you a reader who leaves reviews on these and similar sites? I hope so. It may feel kind of creepy to think that the author will be reading your review, but I think I can speak for most of us when I say that we take them to heart. It’s a wonderful way not only to let your fellow readers know what you think, but the authors as well.
From now on, though, I’m going to read them in the morning.