Ah, yes….the reviews.
This is one of those things that writers both love…and dread. You wait on tenterhooks for that first review to come in. Google tells you your name has popped up somewhere and, heart in mouth, you click over and look.
Today I’m just talking about reviewing sites, like Locus, SFSite, SFReviews, etc. The reviewers there have one thing that reviewers on, say, Amazon often don’t have. They know the genre.
Therefore, as authors, we tend to put a lot of stock in what they say about our work. Since I’ve only had short fiction reviewed in the past (although a couple of mine are just a hop-skip-and-jump away from novels), I can only talk about the experience from the POV of a short story writer.
You really hope they like you. You glance down at the last line of the column first to see their summation of “It’s worth a read” or “It really didn’t work…”. At least I do. (I often cut to the end of a mystery novel before I read it. Yes, I’ll eat dessert first, too.)
Then you go back and read their thoughts on your piece, cringing in places or crowing (hopefully internally.) And then you very quietly step away from the keyboard before you unthinkingly insert a response.
Most of us have learned that arguing with reviews is not all that smart. If you argue with a reviewer on a review site….that’s just asking to get slapped down because so many others of your peers read that site.
Here’s the main point. It’s nice to have reviewers like your work. It feels good. You get that nice “I’ve had external validation” glow for a few days. You smile a lot. You post links on the internets so your friends can click over and see your good fortune. If they didn’t like your work, you go tell your best friend and then sulk in silence. But then you get over it, either way…and move on. (One hopes.)
And then you have to write something else. Good reviews are nice and they give you a boost, bad reviews suck the life out of you (or make you really angry), but either way you just have to get over it. The alternative is not writing any longer.
(Sorry I didn’t post yesterday. I’m trying to get this edit done.)
Next time I’ll talk about NON-PEER reviews, which are a different animal altogether