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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 co-founded WU in 2006 and is the site's editorial director. She was the architect and 1st editor of WU's only book, Author in Progress [4], and orchestrates the WU UnConference. [5] Her second novel, The Moon Sisters [6], was named one of the best books of the year by Library Journal; and her debut, The Last Will of Moira Leahy [7] was a Target Breakout Book. Sign up for her newsletter [8] to be among the first to learn about her new projects (or follow her on BookBub [9]). Learn more on her website [10].