The Truth About Reviews

Some topics just never go away. One of those perpetual subjects is Book Reviews. Oh, my, I can't think of 2 other words that bring such joy or anguish to writers.

This past week, on many of my various writers' lists, reviews have been discussed endlessly. For every writer who can't ignore reviews, there is a writer who will go to great lengths not to read reviews.

From bemoaning membership in the 1-star club to rejoicing in membership in the 5-star club, reviews can sweep you from hell to heaven, all in the space of a few minutes.

Authors can quote their great reviews verbatim. They can also quote the soul-killers that can compare a book that took you years of meticulous research and writing to garbage not worth the time it took to read it. I've read much worse comments that attack not just the book, but also the author who dared pen it.

Grace Metalious, author of the famous novel Peyton Place -- a book that sold millions and spawned movies and a TV series -- was once asked her thoughts on all the bad reviews her book had received. Many of them called her books poorly written trash read only by those "with lousy taste in books."

The fabulous Ms. Metalious replied: "I guess there are a hell of a lot of people with lousy taste."

Then she probably proceeded to cry all the way to the bank.

You Must Remember

Remember this the next time you get a review which should have as part of its definition, "the most subjective piece of writing that exists." A review is just one person's opinion, and that opinion is filtered through God knows what in their brains. The same way your opinions are filtered through your brain.

For every person who hates your book, there will be one who loves it. Unless you have enormous confidence in your ability as a writer, don't ever read your reviews. If you're at all lacking in belief in yourself, bad reviews will affect you. The jolt to your fragile writer's ego is a high price to pay for curiosity.

Takeaway Truth

Take heart and hang onto the thought that there will be more who love your book than hate it and keep on trucking down that long road to success.


  1. Hi, I run a blog about ereaders and ebooks,( and am quite often asked to read and review ebooks by their authors. I have a simple rule about this. If I enjoy the ebook, then I write a positive review of it, if on the other hand I do not like it, then I simply send the author a friendly email saying that the ebook was not really my sort of reading matter, and do not write a review of it. My reasoning for this is that any review I write is strictly my own feeling about the book, and as you point out, another reader might love it.

  2. Hello, Tony. Bravo to you. I have the same review policy posted on my FAQ page, and that's the way I do all reviews unless I'm writing a formal review.

    Reader reviews are like cocktail party conversations where someone asks, "Read any good books lately?" is cleanly laid out and well done. Looks as if you're quite a scuba-diving adventurer. Good luck with the blog.