I did my “what’s new” scan of my books and found a lovely review from “Romancing the Book” review site for http://romancing-the-book.com/2014/09/review-zipper-fall-by-kate-pavelle.html#more-24770 (“Zipper Fall,” in case my linkage didn’t come through). This pleasant find made me realize how my approach to book reviews has changed in the last 18 months of being a published author.
I have five books out and three more slated to come out by Spring 2015, so I’m still pretty new at this writing thing. More books are in the works. At first, I knew I wasn’t supposed to read book reviews and wasn’t supposed to care, but who are we kidding? Of course I’ve read them all, and of course I care, albeit within limits. That’s to say, if the review is good and fair, I use the validation to smile and forge on. If the review is too negative, I shrug and say, “But I don’t care about reviews, right? RIGHT?” It’s a defensive reaction, to be sure, but sue me. I’m only human. Writing is a solitary pursuit, and aside from the occasional piece of fan mail and the undying support of my beta readers, reviews are the only feedback I get from the outside world.
In light of recent cases where authors pursued reviewers with vengeful zeal when a bad review came out, some writers and reviewers wrote at length about the dynamic that’s become difficult with easy internet access and easy searchability of real reviewer (or author) identities. Some pundits went as far as to say that leaving a review isn’t an invitation to a conversation, and that reviews are for READERS, not for AUTHORS.
I beg to differ. Writers are readers too. We read a lot, and we are in an ever-closer contact with our fans. This is fun a lot of the times, but it can feel a bit claustrophobic, too, with strangers clamoring for sequels in a series when the author feels entirely burned out. Publishing a work, be it a book or a review of it, does, in fact, constitute an opener to all kinds of conversations, even if some of them are unintended. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander and if authors manage to receive and answer mail, reviewers should get used to the same. I never expected to have a protracted email conversation with a reader from France or New Zealand, but there you have it. It’s a connected world and we’re part of it.
In this world, even though it’s always bad manners to argue with a reviewer or show any disrespect to their opinion, it is my strong belief that it’s okay to send a note thanking them for their effort in reading the book and actually communicating their opinion of it. Sometimes I do that, at other times I don’t.
Nowadays, I read all reviews but I don’t dwell on reviews the way I used to. The fan mail I’ll read and answer whenever possible. Time has become a precious commodity, though – there are books to write, you see. And writing new books is a lot more fun than reading about my old ones!