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Mixed Review? Why It’s All Good.

on readers [1]
by Flickr’s Chris JL

A debut author I know recently wrote to ask:

[Ho]w do you assess a poor review from a Goodreads member (or anyone, I suppose)? Being new to this, I’m looking for some great tips on developing a thick skin.”

First, it’s worth noting that there are different kinds of poor reviews. Reviews of the “I hate your guts and your book’s guts” variety are one thing, and thankfully they’re pretty rare. (Erika Robuck wrote a great post on venomous reviews [2] this past February, addressing how some authors cope.) Usually reviews are a mixed bag of things that did and didn’t resonate with readers, and aren’t meant to make an author feel like s/he should give it up and become a banker.

Let’s assume you have a mixed-bag review, and you’ve read it and you want to know… Now what? Can you take anything from it of value? And if so, how can you do that without becoming completely neurotic?

Let’s start with what you probably already know. It bears repeating:

Here’s what you may not know:

Goodreads thing

Criticism is essential to our evolution as writers, and there is no truer pool of it than readers on review sites who are not your mother, sibling, spouse, or Aunt Mabel.

What do you think? How do you assess criticism on review sites, if you do? What’s helped you to develop a thicker skin?


About Therese Walsh [3]

Therese Walsh [4] is the editorial director of Writer Unboxed, and co-founded the site in 2006. She was the chief architect and first editor of the upcoming Writer Unboxed book, Author in Progress [5]. Her second novel, The Moon Sisters [6], was named a Best Book of 2014 by Library Journal [7]; and her debut, The Last Will of Moira Leahy [4] was named one of January Magazine’s Best Books of 2009 [8], and was a Target Breakout Book. She's never been published with a lit magazine, but LOST's Carlton Cuse liked her Twitter haiku [9] best and that made her pretty happy.