As a reader who suffers constantly from too-many-books-not-enough-time and has a book-buying budget of one book per month,* following reviews from people whose taste is close to mine has helped me to find books and authors I absolutely adore that I probably wouldn’t have come across on my own. I also search Goodreads for books I’ve heard mixed reviews for, to help me make up my mind whether to track down a copy and decide for myself. If someone has given the book a rave or a panning I’ll often look at the rest of their blog/Goodreads shelves to see what they’ve enjoyed in the past and decide from that whether our taste is likely to be similar. It’s not a failsafe technique but so far I’ve had more hits than misses. (This is also an excellent procrastination technique – I can attest that the hours positively fly by when you’re
All books have their share of fans and detractors, this is a universal truth. For every person who loves Pride and Prejudice there is someone whose loathing for it cannot be expressed vehemently enough (i.e. me). Likewise, I have had to accept that not everyone loves My Family and Other Animals as passionately as I do (but they should, dammit!). The beauty of a community like Goodreads is that these views can sit side by side; we can all have our say and everyone’s opinion is equal. The beauty of having a book blog is that it’s your own space to express yourself. But some authors seem to think that this is precisely the downside to online reviews and are unable to resist arguing with less-than-glowing reader responses, a reaction that, frankly, befuddles me.
As a writer one of the things you have to get used to is accepting criticism (constructive or otherwise) and choosing whether to take it on board or let it go. For most of us it’s obvious whose opinions we should pay attention to (our critique groups/beta readers/agents/editors/others with the goal of helping us to produce the highest quality book we are capable of writing) and whose to accept as their right to an opinion but not take to heart. If you can’t differentiate between the two, you shouldn’t even make your writing available for public consumption, let alone hang around Goodreads (or Amazon or any other consumer review site) or Google your reviews.
(And if you choose to take things personally, for pity’s sake don’t vent your hurt feelings online! Seriously, have we learnt nothing??)
|Got hurt feelings? Tell a friend, not the interwebs.|
ETA: Just as I was about to hit the Publish button I read Veronica Roth's post on the author/reviewer relationship on YA Highway - a very balanced and sensible discussion of the issues, with some insightful comments from bloggers.