Whether or not authors should read their own book reviews has been a topic written about a lot. Some people say yes. Most people say no. Honestly, it’s up to you. I used to read my own reviews. But, the negative ones had a bad impact on my mental health. I never got used to it or learned how to deal with it. Now, I read reviews people post on their blogs, most of the time. They’re a good place to get quotes to put in your description. For sites like Goodreads, Amazon or Barnes and Noble, I’ll look at the overall star rating but I never read those reviews.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re on the fence about reading your book’s reviews.
Book Reviews Aren’t for Us
Years ago, when I was thinking about whether or not I should continue reading my own reviews, I come across a post that said book reviews are for readers, not authors. The reviewers are readers telling other readers what they liked and didn’t like about the book. Because of social media, if someone wants to contact me, personally, about their opinion of my book, they can DM me or email me. This convinced me that I don’t need to read my reviews.
Decide If You’re Someone who Can Handle Bad Reviews
I am not in a good place where I can handle bad reviews. That’s fine. Be honest with yourself. Are you someone who can handle a ton of bad reviews? You will get them. You may even get a lot of them one right after the other. That doesn’t necessarily mean your book is bad. My books are dark. They tend to have a lot of gore in them. Unfortunately, they sometimes fell into the hands of people who didn’t like that.
Don’t Look for Validation in Book Reviews
Like most people, this past year has done a number on my mental health. For me, things have been pretty bad since 2016. Obviously, nothing is all good or all bad. Some good things happened but overall the past 5 years have not been great. I’m slowly trying to figure out how to fix that.
Temporarily, I’ve stopped looking at website analytics, Instagram post likes and social media followers. I’m generally avoiding my Instagram and Twitter Profile pages, sticking to the Home and Explore feeds. Why? Because I realized I was looking for validation through those analytics and I’d get depressed and frustrated when I wasn’t getting it.
I like being active on social media. I enjoy sharing nerdy stuff. Even before the rona, I didn’t have a lot of nerdy people around me. It’s fun to have a space where I can talk about anime and video games, to talk about photography/hiking stuff and what I’m learning about both. I’m trying to get back to that.
I would suggest, in general, don’t look to outside input for validation. It’ll only depress you when you don’t get it.
Taking the Temperature
This author gave a valid point about why she reads her own book reviews.
Mostly, she reads them to gauge how her books doing. But, she reaches a point where she’ll stop.
Looking For Feedback from Reviews
I’ve read a lot of comments from authors who got good feedback from their negative reviews, comments that helped them improve their next books. That’s the reason I had started reading my book reviews in the beginning, But, in my case, the bad reviews were from people who’d never enjoy my books. I published my first book in 2014. Since then, I’ve never received a helpful negative review. I get my best feedback from beta readers.
By the time your book is released, it should’ve gone through editors and beta readers. That is where you should be honing your skills, learning what does and doesn’t work in your story. Some things will slip through the cracks. People aren’t perfect. But, as I mentioned before, reviews aren’t for you. It’s a bit too late to learn about a major flaw in your book through reviews.
Should you read your own reviews? It’s up to you. Sit back and think about why you’re reading them. If you’re looking for validation, what’s going on happens when you get a series of bad reviews? You can’t control how people receive your book. However, good or bad, you should never comment on a review.