Last week I asked the question, “Do you write reviews?” And it seemed to me that many authors don’t, in fact, write reviews, although readers seemed to want to share their thoughts on books somewhat more consistently.
This week I’m kind of asking the flip side: Do you read reviews?
I’m very interested in the answer to this one because it has different meanings for readers and writers.
As a reader I don’t usually read reviews. And if I do, I’m not usually swayed by them (for the same reason I expressed about not agreeing with critics last week, i.e. my evaluation of Jewel of the Nile vs. critics’ view). An intriguing blurb will get me to buy the book quicker than glowing reviews. The only exception is if a review or word of mouth comments that there are historical inaccuracies or if it’s generally poorly written. Then I steer clear because those things make me crazy as a reader.
As a writer I don’t usually read reviews of my works, not because I can’t take criticism—I’ve been directing plays for many years and have had my share of bad reviews—but because I don’t want to dwell on the negative ones. And that’s the same reaction I’ve found with several authors who’ve told me they don’t read their reviews. I could have six glowing reviews and one bad one and the bad one is going to be the one I think about constantly. I love the good reviews (I have read reviews in the past, you see) but when a bad one comes in, I can’t help asking myself, “What did I miss? What could I have done to make that reader love my book instead?”
And even though I know, with certainty, that 100% of readers are not going to like my books, I still obsess over why they didn’t.
So to keep from going crazy (again), I don’t usually read the reviews. I will look at ratings to keep an eye on how my books are doing, but I do steer away from the reviews.
For readers, however, I’m very interested to see how many of you use reviews to guide your purchases in romance. Do you read them all? Do you read some good, some bad? Do you not read them at all? And if you read them, do they sway you one way or another?
Inquiring authors really want to know!