Why authors shouldn’t read reviews – and why we do

On Goodreads, all reviews 3 stars and over are considered positive. Goodreads will even tell you what percentage of readers liked your book. At the moment, 93% of people ‘like’ One Summer in Santorini.

Overview of reviews

Or, to look at it another way, 7% of people disliked or even hated my book.

One review was so scathing, I followed the breadcrumbs to the reader’s blog and she’d posted ‘Ten Reasons I Hated This Book’. Of course, I read them – all of them. Some reasons had me wondering why she’d picked up the book in the first place – she hates love triangles, for instance and the blurb mentions the love triangle. Other reasons indicated that she hadn’t actually read the book – which was confirmed at the end when she wrote ‘I skim read most of it.’

The thing was, the book didn’t engage her enough for her to actually read it – and that’s okay. Sarah, a protagonist who is very like I was at her age, is not for everyone – just like I wasn’t, just like I am not everyone’s cup of tea now. And that’s okay.

Some 3-star reviews rave about the book, which indicates that for those readers, 3 stars is high praise. Thank you, readers.

I’ve read reviews where the reader is cross about the ending (no spoilers). I’d love to reply that it is slice of life – just that moment in time – and that I’ve written two follow-ups (one a direct sequel), which will be published in 2020.

Replying to reviews is, however, a no-no.

So, why do I read reviews at all?

Simply, because the good ones feel amazing – validation that the hundreds, if not thousands, of hours I spent in isolation getting the story down and honing it, were worth it.

I’ve read reviews where the reader says how much the theme of the book – falling back in love with life – resonated with them, and that they want a bigger life, just like Sarah. That means so much to me. I also love hearing that the book is a ‘fun beach read’, because that’s one of the genres I love reading, too.

So, no, authors probably shouldn’t read reviews – or at least, we shouldn’t obsess over the ‘bad reviews’. But as long as we go into it knowing that our book will not be for everyone – that some people will find it boring, or the protagonist annoying, or the ending frustrating – then we can take the bad ones with a grain of salt. Because for some readers, our book will brighten their day.




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