Let’s take a step back. When you’ve finally picked yourself up off the floor after seeing that one, lonely gold or red star followed by all those empty ones, read that review. As difficult as it is, you earned it. Like it or not, a reader’s interpretation of your message is the most important thing. It’s why you write. You don’t do it for you, unless you’re some kind of masochist. Writing isn’t fun. Words don’t always do what you want them to do. Sure, it can be therapeutic sometimes, but the reason you do it is to report or entertain. You want somebody to read your story and say, “By George, that was a fantastic story!” When somebody takes the time to read your story and write a review, you should take the time to see what they thought of it, even if it hurts really, really bad.
Okay, so paying back effort with effort isn’t the real reason you should take the time to read these reviews. In fact, the reviewer will probably never know whether or not you read their review. The real reason, is so you know what they hated about it. If you read it, and I mean really read it, you may find some useful tips to improve your writing. Not always, some bad reviews aren’t helpful at all. For example, here is what Amazon Customer said about Hell and the Hunger, “the author is a vampire...and keeps sucking your energy while you are reading the book”. This wasn’t helpful. I can’t even tell if they actually read the book. It was a verified purchase, so I hope they did. In any event, they probably read at least some of it and hated it. I earned that. They did not like my story. This, of course, is only one end of the spectrum. Some negative reviews can actually be very thoughtful and helpful.
In a Goodreads review, Johnny also gave Hell and the Hunger one star. Here is a link to the full review. The difference with this one star review and the other I mentioned is the time and thought that went into it. Johnny’s review is actually one of my favorite reviews for Hell and the Hunger. There were some things he really liked. However, there were many things he simply didn’t like. Hell and the Hunger is about a vampire who is much more than just a vampire. Johnny was looking for a straight vampire story, something more akin to Anne Rice’s work. My story isn’t that. There are angels fighting demons, a priest killing hookers to help nurse a sick vampire back to health, and a whole slew of other non-traditional vampire nonsense going on. Bottom line, I messed with vampire folklore. Not all fans of vampire stories are going to appreciate that. Some do, I have a handful of four star and five star reviews by readers who really liked what I did with the story. Those reviews aren’t any more important to me than Johnny’s, or even Amazon Customer’s. I earned them all.
Good or bad, own all your reviews. By all means, don’t let them define you. You can’t please everyone. Keep reading, keep writing, and be happy that, not only did someone take the time to read your work, they cared enough to share their feelings about it. Bravo, my friend.