I Like Being Reviewed

I like getting reviews of my work.

Not everyone does. Not everyone is required to like it, or even to read reviews of their work. But some of us like reading reviews and commentary (which is how I think of feedback that states it isn’t intended as a review, or is briefer or less thorough than a review).

Reviews can give me a new way to think about my work. I like it when they confirm an opinion I already had about the story. I like it when they identify weaknesses, so I can think about those and how I might strengthen those weaknesses next time. I don’t directly make changes, but I might be influenced. The best thing is when a reviewer comments on something they liked or even disliked – and even if they disliked it, if it’s something I did on purpose, it makes me happy that my intentions came through.

Reviews, of course, aren’t always pleasant to read. If there’s one that’s too difficult for you to read without becoming overly angry or upset, my recommendation is not to read it, or not to finish reading it if you’ve started, and most especially not to comment and read the comments of others. I think most writers would agree it’s best not to argue with reviewers, because their opinions as readers are just as valid as those of the writer. Maybe return in a few days when you’ve had a chance to think it through, if you can then read with a clear head. But there’s no law that says you’re required to read every review of your work.

I especially love gaining new insights from commentary on my books – how do readers perceive what I’ve written? I want to know if they liked certain characters, their favorite scenes, and what they wish would have happened, or happened differently; the things they loved, the things that made them angry. Their thoughts and interpretations give the novel new life; their opinions help me to see the story from the outside, as a reader might. Since I write things I’d like to read, to me this is extremely important. I feel a little moment of wonder every time.

Even more than all those considerations, I like having my books reviewed because it means someone read the book. “Silly,” you say. “Thousands of people read your book.” (Or however many it was. I’m guestimating.)

That isn’t the point.

Sure, I know that copies sold. I see it in bookstores. I have all sorts of figures. It’s still not the same as having a stranger tell you what they thought. And that is different from having a friend read the book and tell you what they thought. The feedback in a review is coming from what was on the page. It’s feedback from someone who is more interested in the book itself than in its author.

Since I’m the author and I already know about me, I want to know about my book, unaffected by anything else. I want to know if anything in it struck the reader as true or meaningful, or if they loved a certain character, or wished an event had turned out differently. It’s a special treat to find out. It doesn’t matter, at base level, if the reviewer hated the book or loved it. What matters is that they went to the trouble of writing about it, and sharing their view of the novel’s world with me. Thousands don’t bother.

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen [she, her] currently writes cozy space opera for Kalikoi. The novella series A Place of Refuge begins with Finding Refuge: Telepathic warrior Talia Avi, genius engineer Miki Boudreaux, and augmented soldier Faigin Balfour fought the fascist Federated Colonies for ten years, following the charismatic dissenter Jon Churchill. Then Jon disappeared, Talia was thought dead, and Miki and Faigin struggled to take Jon’s place and stay alive. When the FC is unexpectedly upended, Talia is reunited with her friends and they are given sanctuary on the enigmatic planet Refuge. The trio of former guerillas strive to recover from lifetimes of trauma, build new lives on a planet with endless horizons, and forge tender new connections with each other.
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5 Responses to I Like Being Reviewed

  1. Ember says:

    You said it great! I just love knowing someone read my book, and cared enough to put their thoughts on it in writing.

  2. Victoria Janssen says:

    We just need *sob* love! *heh*

  3. Kate Pearce says:

    I'm like you, I'm genuinely interested in what worked and what didn't work for readers. Sure, I get all sad when they hate it, but I usually get over myself. :)

  4. Victoria Janssen says:

    Awww, don't be sad!

  5. Savanna Kougar says:

    Interesting. I share some of those sentiments. And, it doesn't bother me if a reviewer doesn't like certain things, if it makes sense in terms of the story, itself.

    However, I had one reviewer, who was just downright nasty and worst of all provided an incorrect picture of what the story was about. If a reader purchased the book expecting that kind of story, they were bound to be disappointed, so I asked them to take down the review. Which they did.
    A bad review is one thing. Giving readers a false idea of what the story is, is a whole other matter.
    Fortunately, I had another reviewer who got the story and wanted to know when I was going to write the next book in the trilogy.

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