Someone posted earlier on Facebook about how they couldn’t understand why some people on Goodreads could live with themselves after leaving nasty, spiteful reviews. The replies, of course, told the author to stay away from Goodreads. Good advice, but sometimes, especially when you’re new to the game, it’s hard to not give in to the impulse to see what people are saying about your baby.
The answer to the question “Why do they do it?” is complicated. Mainly, it’s because they can. Maybe a snarky review makes them feel clever. Or maybe they really hated the book and want to vent about it. That’s fine, but they often get personal, or they say incorrect things about the book. “I didn’t know it was set in the 1920s!” Well, it says so in the blurb. And the cover models are dressed in 1920s garb. Why didn’t you get the clue? So the author reads the tirade and wants to correct their statements. Yeah, don’t. Just don’t.
Here’s my advice, for what it’s worth. Don’t go to Goodreads. If you use it, like I do, to list and review the books you read, try not to give into the impulse to read comments on your books. If you do, just read the 4 or 5 stars ones. Skip over everything else. Some people say that you could learn something from negative reviews, but generally that’s not the case. You just get depressed, and there’s nothing you can do about it. The book is out, and it’s too late to change things. And we all know that you can have 20 or 30 great reviews to one bad one, and the only thing you can think about is that one bad one. So don’t read them. What’s the point?
Because, let’s face it. Most writers have fragile egos. We can sail high when someone says they love our book, but we also hit rock bottom when someone starts their review “Okay, I admit it. I read this piece of shit.” (An actual opening to one I got!) Or the person who goes through your entire series, giving the books 1 or 2 stars because they had to skim because they didn’t like the characters. I had that one, too. And, yes, I had to wonder why they bothered to keep reading (or skimming) the series if they didn’t like them. Boggles the mind. My only conclusion is so that they could give their 1 star reviews. How lovely of them!
Not every person is going to like a book. I just listened to an audio book that I absolutely hated. I despised the main characters and wanted to smack them. Curious, I glanced at the comments on Goodreads. Mostly, people loved this book. One or two agreed with me, but overall this was a popular book. So go figure. Now, I won’t be leaving a review of this book on Goodreads. I usually don’t, if I think it’s a one or two star book. I wouldn’t do that to another writer. If they’re deceased, of course, it’s fair game. But otherwise…nope, not going there.
So. Reviews. They’re one person’s opinion. I just read through reviews of that book I hated. Some loved the book for the very reasons I hated it. Some thought the main character was funny. I thought he was an annoying twerp. Now, I would never leave a snarky review and possibly hurt someone’s feelings, but some people don’t look at it that way, obviously. But as an author you are under no obligation to read their comments. And I recommend that you don’t.
And, no, I won’t say what the books I read was.