"From my close observation of writers... they fall into two groups: 1) those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and 2) those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review." Isaac Asimov
It would be not a far stretch to say writers as a whole are a bit schizophrenic in how they react to a review. On one hand, you have those copious bleeders who splatter one and all when they get a bad review. Or you get those who glow so blindingly over a good review that it's hard to believe.
My favorite quote about negative reviews is by Max Reger, German composer, who pithily offers, "I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me." It might take a minute or two to register, but you may agree with me that his sarcastic response to a bad review is quite funny. We're probably fortunate that he wrote music and not books.
Even Danielle Steel has this to say about reviews, "A bad review is like baking a cake with all the best ingredients and having someone sit on it." You can probably guess that she was having a bad reaction to a less-than-warm review. Let's face it. Some reviewers seem to look only for what's wrong in a story or they're taking out some personal vendetta against the author. They appear to think their role is to rip to shreds all books except for the crème de la crème. Walter Kaufman, German philosopher, offers that "The first function of a book review should be, I believe, to give some idea of the contents and character of the book." I wonder what he might have made of all the review sites popping up on the Internet
People like to offer their opinions. It's almost as if there is some monetary value in being able to tell someone what you like and having them buy into you enough to believe that your opinion is what they should believe as well. If you find a reviewer who consistently likes what you like as well as consistently dislikes what you dislike, then you've found a match made in heaven. But how often is that? I know I go to movies that professional reviewers trash simply because I, like so many others, want to determine if I like something for myself.
Still, I do agree with Kenneth Koch. "It's enormously cheering to get a good review by someone who seems to understand your work." When I get a good review, I want the entire universe to know. I've had reviewers who saw into the hearts of my characters. They seemed to know my characters as well as I did. And I loved it. When a reviewer tells me that I've moved them to tears, it does my heart good. My job is to tell the best story that I can as consistently as I can. I am trying to touch my readers on several levels, especially on an emotional level. So to hear that a reviewer has been touched? Oh yes, it makes me a glowingly happy author.
How do you deal with bad reviews? What about good ones? And if you review someone else's work, how to you approach it? Do you rip the books you don't care for to shreds or do you try really hard to find something, anything that you can talk positively about, even in books you don't want to read again?
I like to put links to reviews I’ve received up on my website – curious? Check some of them out on my