Should Writers Read Their Reviews?
Any writer who says s/he doesn’t read press reviews is a liar. We all do, without fail, because it’s human nature (also, if they’re good they get forwarded on by all sorts of people). What we should never do is over-analyse them. Or believe in them.
I know how hard it is to get reviewed at all because I periodically review for newspapers, and just scraping up enough column space to cover anything now in the dying world of print is exhausting – you have to badger your editor until something cracks, and most people simply aren’t being rewarded to do so. There are certain authors who are reviewed no matter what they write. Either they’re very good and constantly in the public eye, or they’re very good at networking (usually the former – the latter doesn’t cut as much ice as it used to).
But the one thing that does make a big difference is whether, like movies, your ‘product’ is coming out from one of the five majors – smaller companies often don’t have the firepower to get a look-in.
Then there’s the matter of reader reviews. In a way these are far more important, because we need feedback from the very people we are writing for. I don’t dare to look at my reader reviews with any frequency – my frail confidence has to be pretty strong before I tackle that so I wait for a good day.
I knew that the ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) of my next noel ‘Nyctophobia’ were going out to professional and amateur reviewers last month but deliberately stayed away from checking out any results – after all, up until now the book has only be read by my agent and editor, neither of whom can be said to give fully unbiased reports.
Then I was forwarded these, which I’m confident enough to share. Maybe I’ll read a few more reviews from now on!
‘Fowler understands that, in the best eerie tales, our protagonists are haunted long before the supernatural comes into play. Nyctophobia is a clever, beautifully observed novel, evoking haunted house elements but in a way that is completely fresh and original.’ – Guy Adams, DadInfo.net
‘The writing was exquisite, rich in detail, atmospheric and haunting. I expected to find a standard haunted house story but this is completely different, and utterly, utterly terrifying. I had nightmares about this book last night, and I don’t think they’ll be the last. I don’t mind nightmares though, especially not when the cause is a book as amazing as this one. Terrifying. The best writing I’ve read in ages. Read it for yourself if you don’t believe me, but I can do nothing but recommend it.’ – Majanka Verstraete, NetGalley