The Love/Hate Authors Feel Toward Book Reviewers

If you write, if you publish, there will be reviews. The problem starts when not everything reviewers have to say is flattering.

It’s an uncomfortable truth that not everyone will like what you produce.

You spend weeks, months, even years writing a book. It goes through many revisions. Betas tear it apart. An editor rips it down again. You rewrite and rewrite, and finally one day, it’s as ready as it will ever be. You take a deep breath and send it out into the world, hopeful it will experience a happy landing.

And then the reviews start, and you realize you were full of shit. 

A few will like it. Some will even rave, but inevitably there will be those reviewers who nitpick your baby to death, and those are the ones you remember. Those are the ones that will keep you up at night as you mentally repeat particularly vitriolic phrases over and over again. This isn’t right, that is crap, your characters suck, the story is weak, you got sidetracked on the way to greatness (poor you!), and on and on it goes.

Those reviews are like a knife in the gut. A sword in your heart. The final nails in your coffin. You vow never to write or publish anything again because this pain is too much, too harsh, too undeserved.

So you retreat for a while to lick your wounds. When people tell you how much they liked the book, you smile and thank them and don’t believe them for a second because that reviewer said it was garbage,  so it must be, right?


There is another truth authors need to remember: not everyone will like your book. Not everyone will recognize it’s worth or the trouble you took to build wonderful characters and create scintillating plot points. Not everyone will appreciate artful foreshadowing and amazing correlations. Some will read it while in a bad mood or suffering a migraine. Some will have gotten bad news that day and the resulting emotional fallout will slop over into your book as they read it, making them think less of it than they normally would.

Have you ever read a book and thought it sucked, only to read it months or years later and really liked it?

Don’t take reviews too seriously, not the raves or the pans. Just believe in yourself and keep writing. Keep doing what you love and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. He’s rarely as insightful as he thinks he is anyway. 😉


Who doesn’t love water drops sparkling on plants? Taken at R’s place one morning when the dew was still around.

Water drops in field 11.14.14

Waterdrops Two 11.14.14 sm

Have a great week!


About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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21 Responses to The Love/Hate Authors Feel Toward Book Reviewers

  1. Beautiful pictures. The water drops, particularly in that first pic, are stunning, so perfectly round 🙂

    You know, I have several author friends who make it a practice not to read their reviews. Because there are always gonna be bad ones & it’s so hard on you emotionally. I can see the value of that. I can get super upset, as a reader & friend, seeing a bad review – particularly a mean spirited or disrespectful one – of an author of whom I’m a fan and/or friend. And I’m quite sensitive about that sort of thing myself, so I can easily imagine being in the author’s shoes. I’m not sure any insight you gain from reading reviews is worth the pain.

    • I almost never gain insight from “bad” reviews. Because as the writer, I usually disagree with their assessment. Heh. And I don’t generally change what I write based on a review. I know the story I want to tell, and while I can see it won’t appeal to everyone, it pleases me; the author has to please himself first or the book won’t get written in the first place.

      I love the water drop pics. So delicate, and the way the sun sparkles on them is eye-catching. These were taken in macro mode, so the lens was quite close.

  2. ludwigcarol5 says:

    This is why I don’t like to leave reviews. If one only reviews books that they felt were good then after a while it looks like they rate high on everything. That does those writers a injustice I think. But to write a bad review just seems hurtful and insulting. I also would not like to tear down a writers baby after they spent so much time building what they felt was a work of art. I once thought to write my own story. I even went so far as to look into what I needed, to do so. My lack of schooling would have been my first hurdle as I was never able to finish even 7th grade before I was left alone and homeless. Aside from that, there was so much one had to do to get their book out there. I have the utmost respect for writers. It’s not just putting words to paper, which in and of it’s self is hard work. It’s so much more then that. So many of us who are readers, just see the words on paper and think the writer has it made. What a easy job they must have. We don’t think of the hours and hours that went into putting this book together. Or what it takes to get it to the next, and then again to the next levels before it gets to us the readers. I have read books that I thought were bad but others thought were good. I have also read books that I thought were above good while other thought they were below bad. Often it’s just a matter of taste. My daughter loved ‘Fifty Shades of gray’ while I myself hated it. Often just a matter of taste.
    The pictures Theo. So simply peaceful. Thank you.

    • Glad you liked the photos.

      I was on Amazon the other day, checking out a book. As always, I glanced at the reviews. One person posted, “Got this because I know the author but haven’t read it yet.” That idiot gave the book two stars! I left a message for her, asking how she could possibly rate a book she hasn’t read yet.

      One of my earlier books was given one star because a different reviewer, a friend of hers, I guess, said there was cheating in it. There wasn’t, but the damage was done.

      No author likes negative reviews, especially when they are this stupid, but if you really didn’t like the book, by all means say so. But read it first, ya know? Otherwise, you have no opinion and shouldn’t be foisting your ignorance on others.

  3. Allison says:

    I actually normally find myself being more critical of a book in a reread although I’m sure I’ve ended up liking some books more. I have found myself liking a movie more on a second viewing more than once.

    Writing a good critical review is difficult, I can snark my way through anything but I try not to do that and have even gone back to change reviews I’ve written. I know how much it hurts when a reviewer doesn’t like something you’ve written not because I’m a writer but because I have had negative responses to things I’ve done and been proud of. Anything you put your heart into hurts when it’s rejected. As long as it doesn’t become a personal attack or an attempt to get attention for the review(er) instead of the book (which happens much too often) it’s just something that is going to happen. As you said, no one is ever going to write something that everyone loves. ((Hugs))

    I love the picture of the water drops! That is just amazing. As you do in your writing you immediately put me in the scene with that picture. I can feel the heat of the sun on my back and the slightly damp feeling of Florida’s mornings. 😀

    • 🙂 It was hot that morning. And quiet and still. Every once in a while, a breeze would blow, lifting the grass and stirring my hair, then it would die again.

      My happiest moments are when I have a camera in hand and am stalking a photo, or when I am writing a scene that suddenly flows like fast-running water.

  4. Jaycee Edward says:

    From a writer’s perspective, I can’t speak from experience on this (yet), unless you count that one time a certain editor gave me less-than-glowing remarks. ;o) From a reader’s perspective, though, I know how much it hurts me to see a book I loved, or an author I adore, get a less-than-glowing review. Even if I see their point, it still hurts me as if I’d written it myself. It’s why I stay away from GR as much as possible. People seem to go out of the way to be overly nasty on that site. The bottom line, though, is we all come at things from different life experiences and we’ll all have a slightly different ‘take’ on things and we all have a different standard when we leave reviews. After reading King Perry and King Mai, I decided I’d never be able, in good conscience, to leave another 5-star review. I doubt anything will ever compare to the reading experiences I had when discovering those books – it was life changing. Sorry, but unless it has me doing the ugly cry at 2 a.m. and drunk-dialing the author, or vowing to be a better person and changing how I see life, it ain’t gettin’ 5 stars from me. That’s me. A friend and I have discussed this in depth and she feels differently. But that’s just it – we’re all different. Something in a book that made me laugh might totally rub someone else the wrong way. A lot of people hate cheating in a book – I think it adds drama and angst. I kinda’ like it. Heh. I guess the key is to be able to consider the criticism and decide if it’s warranted or not. Sometimes it’s what we need to hear (like in my case) and sometimes it’s just that particular reviewer’s ‘take’. On a personal level, I read this entire post with a huge smile because I’ve really missed your blog posts, I’m thrilled at the positive attitude, and the pictures are stunning, but… we only get two? You have a new camera and we only get two pictures?

  5. diannegray says:

    Your photos are beautiful! As far as reviews go, I’ve never really been attacked (so to speak), but I don’t like it when people leave low star ratings on GR without any words to back up their thoughts. I find that really odd.

    • It makes you wonder what their real agenda is, doesn’t it?

      In this particular case, it was a review I simply didn’t like. Heh. Just as the reviewer is entitled not to like things, I am entitled not to like what they say. LOL

  6. Heather C says:

    There is one thing that authors often seem to forget: most reviewers review for themselves and other readers…not for authors. So we really don’t expect authors to take our advice and change how they write. My review is only one opinion and it is MY opinion and can never be wrong as it is a subjective judgement. And as a reader, I have the right to express my opinion in the form of a review and I should be free to say whatever I want as long as it is about the book and not the author as a person.

    Imagine a world where reviewers and reviews didn’t exist. Or all the review blogs shut down their sites. How would word spread about book? Maybe authors give too much power to reviewers? Maybe reviewers don’t get the appreciation they deserve?

    In the end, no one reads the same book…and everyone has a right to their own opinion.

  7. Helena Stone says:

    Gosh, there’s a lot of talk about reviews in the past view days and it turns out people have very strong opinions about it. My attitude towards reviews is relatively simple. If I love a book without reservation it’s a 5, if I do have one or more reservations the rating drops accordingly. If I really can’t get into a book I don’t finish it, and if I don’t finish a book I don’t rate it. It will appear on my blog as DNF, but since that option isn’t open to me on official review sites I won’t do anything with the book there. Some people have told me I should rate books I do not finish because that might tell other readers something. While I understand that point of view I don’t think it’s fair to rate something I haven’t read to the end. How I will cope with reviews once they are written about my own words is something I won’t find out for a few months yet and to be honest, for the time being at least, I try to think about that as little as possible.

    Those pictures are once again gorgeous. You do have a wonderful eye for beauty and we are lucky you continue to share it with us.

    • GoodReads is my least favorite review site anywhere. I always do worse there than at other, more professional sites, so I tend to avoid it.

      I used to read and review books, and assign them a number no matter what. I have given books one star and stated my reasons for doing it. But as time went on, I decided that was simply downright cruel–not because of what I said but saying it at all.

      I see both sides, being an author and reader, but now I will only rate a book if I can give it a three or higher. If it was bad enough to get one or two stars from me–or worse, a DNF–well, I leave it to others to put that out there. I don’t have the heart for it anymore.

      Are there books that deserve no more than one or two stars? Absolutely. Some self-published authors can’t write and won’t face that fact. Others won’t hire an editor to fix the writing sins we are all guilty of. But I’ve decided to concentrate on being more positive in my opinions these days.

  8. Karen H. says:

    Oh book reviews, the bane of every reader/authors existence. Ironically for the most part I don’t even look at a book review until either I’ve decided it’s a book I’m never going to read or after I’ve read the book.

    I’ve actually had the experience of reading book reviews that revealed so much of the book that when I finally got around to reading the book there were no real surprises the reviewer had disclosed so much of the story that I felt like I was rereading rather than reading for the first time, and I was really unhappy about it. So now I read the book blurb, I may skim over the ratings to see get a sense of how the book was received overall, but I intentionally avoid the actual reviews because I don’t want the book spoiled for me. Not everyone uses spoiler tags or alerts 😦

    I can’t speak for anyone but myself about star ratings with no review on GR, but I know before this year I didn’t actually write reviews for books. I only did it this year as a bit of a personal challenge just to see if I could and to be honest while it was interesting and sometimes I had fun with it, I doubt I’m going to do it after the end of the year. I’ll probably go back to what I did before which was to read the book and give it a star rating to give some indication of how I felt about the book and the only reason I do that is because GR doesn’t give me the option to read a book and just shelve it as being read. They attach the damned stars so if you don’t do something to me it looks like you read the book and it was so bad you didn’t want to give it any rating at all which I think is even worse than just giving it a rating and no review.

  9. A.M.B. says:

    “Not everyone will like your book.” So true! In many cases, the book just didn’t fall into the right reader’s hands. Still, if the negative review is thorough, it sometimes helps me realize that I might be better suited for that book than the reviewer was.

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