A friend recently posted the above Thomas a Kempis quote on Facebook. I thought immediately of this week’s Debutante Ball theme: reviews. To me reviews can take all different forms, not just straight-up book reviews. A verbal comment can be a review. No comment at all also can be a review.
When you publish a book, address a crowd, blog, vlog, or offer some bit of yourself in any public arena, you invite judgment, evaluation. That’s the nature of the beast.
Also the nature of the beast: certain reviews reveal much more about the reviewer than the material being reviewed.
Some writer-friends of mine seek out every review of their books that they can find, whether it’s in a major magazine, Goodreads.com, or a book club they visit. They treat it as a learning experience, a way to learn what readers like and don’t like, a way to join the conversation.
A few of my writer-friends avoid reviews of their work, because they know themselves, and they know that even a small criticism might sap their creative energy, drain their hard-won self-belief, color their current writing projects, darken their moods, trigger depression ….
Many writers are sensitive. Some are acutely sensitive. Sometimes, in reaction to nasty, negative reviews, we resort to defensiveness, or simply point out that, by virtue of publishing a book, we take a risk that most others do not. As Rocky Balboa says to the guy who calls world champion Apollo Creed a bum: “What shot did you ever take?” Maybe that’s a valid response; maybe not.
Regardless, if you have something positive to say about a book — any praise, however insignificant it may seem — please, say it. Shout it, blog it, email it, tweet it, status update it, give it as many stars as possible in online forums. If the author sees it, she or he will take it to heart. More than anything else, authors — even big-time authors — need fuel. Positive “reviews” are among the best fuel.
My book is a few months away from reviews. I’m not sure how I’ll respond. But I know I’ll keep the sound advice of an author-friend in mind: Never let a less than kind review get you down.
For as you are, you are.