I was recently asked by a reader how I deal with negative reviews. Wanna know a secret? I don't read many reviews unless they are sent directly to me by a reader.
Sure, I sometimes glance at them when someone brings it to my attention. Some reviews are flattering, other funny. I'll admit some sting.
But I do not hover over my books to see what reviews are coming in. I don't think that would be healthy for anyone. I used to read them, though. I remember getting a scathing review years ago. I read the comments, believed they had merit and addressed the issues. I even contacted the reviewer to ask them to join my advanced reader copy team. Never heard back from this individual.
Then, I stopped reading them after I came across an interview with Mickey Rourke, where he said how much reviews impacted him. He was told he shouldn't read any reviews if the bad ones hurt him. I figured if a tough guy like Mr. Rourke decided not to read reviews because they stung, I wouldn't read them, either.
Reviewing any art is subjective. It's why I refuse to do it. I will give my opinion sometimes in person, but never anywhere else.
Yes, there are some movies, books or TV shows I love and some I don't. But I think it's up to all of us to make up our mind. Too often I have not read a book or seen a movie because of bad reviews only to LOVE the content once I gave it a chance (to be fair, it works the other way, too).
I write because I have to write. It's all I've ever wanted to do. I have been traditionally published, and I now go the independent route. I like the freedom and speed. I put out the absolute best product I can by hiring professional artists and editors. I dream of improving with each novel as I've heard the first million words are practice anyway.
It is my hope you find some joy in the work I'm producing. If not, I appreciate you giving me a chance, and I wish you well.
I resist dispensing too much advice on this website. Plenty of people out there can do a fantastic job inspiring the next King or Grisham (check out Joanna Penn if you are searching). And quite frankly I have always been uncomfortable giving sage advice unless someone asks.
However, I want to address all new authors writing their first novel. You should not hesitate out of fear of receiving poor reviews. I have known many people who never put their work out there for this reason. Let me tell you right now people will give you lousy reviews. It happens even if you have poured your heart and soul into every word, hired an editor (or three or four), and have the perfect book cover. Some people will not like your novel. Reframe it as being thankful for someone in the world reading your work.
If you are an author who would like to commiserate or discuss publishing, I'm always happy to chat. Drop me an email at email@example.com.
For now, I'm going to keep writing.