Reviewing Reviews

Reviews are the lifeblood of a successful writer’s career. When I get a favorable review, I feel pleased that I was able to satisfy a reader of my story. When I get an unfavorable review, I wonder why am I pretending that I’m a serious writer and why don’t I just take up bagging groceries at King Soopers as I was destined to do?

The truth is, you can’t satisfy all readers. I know that intellectually, but I still strive to create a book that pleases everyone. Like most writers, I tend to overlook the positive comments (though those are the ones that do the most to entice new readers to try out my books) and focus only on the negative comments. After all, if I am already pleasing my audience, how much improvement can I make? On the other hand, if I am not pleasing my audience, perhaps I can find ways to improve my writing.

When I examine the negative remarks (which I regard as anything 3 or lower), the criticisms fall into two main categories: criticisms of my competency as a writer; and criticism of elements of the story. The first group of criticisms are ones that I take seriously and definitely want to correct. Criticisms of the second group are questionable in my opinion. Some of them might be resolved if the reader goes on to read other books in the series. I ignore some of the criticisms if they focus on elements I actually do want to include in my story. In a similar manner, there are limited actions I can take if a reader expects one kind of story but finds that my story belongs in a different category.

Ultimately, however, it is impossible to please every reader. All I can do is thank the reviewer for their honesty, see if I can do anything to improve what I do, and plow onward with the rest of my series.

After all, out of fifty reviewers, forty-five of them like what I’m doing, and it is that audience I am trying to please.

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