I just discovered, by email notification, that a blogger I follow on WordPress has apparently read my first novel, Passports. The blogger evidently devoted a post to it. Understand that (as of this writing) I have no idea what that blogger thinks of the book because I have not read the post.
And I probably will not read it. Why not? When I saw the notification, I instantly thought of my uncle, who has told me he studiously avoids reading reviews of his novels.
It’s a quandary. Think about it. It’s inappropriate, and even tacky, for an author to bask in a positive review’s sunshine, and perhaps even to “like” it.
On the other hand, if a reviewer doesn’t like a book, well, what’s to do? Do a Chris De Burgh? Probably not.
Back in 2009, the Irish singer fired off a scathing retort to The Irish Times, berating a concert reviewer. In it, De Burgh launched some real zingers. He was furious at the reviewer’s negative take on a recent Dublin show:
That strikes me as almost never the way to deal with even vicious criticism. Almost no one even days later would have really remembered that review, but they will long remember it courtesy of De Burgh’s angry response. One would’ve thought someone like De Burgh would’ve known that.
If someone directly approaches you (with an email, say), you are entitled to respond if you wish. That’s now a personal conversation: a correspondent is seeking you out, either positively or negatively. However, I feel the best way to react to public reviews is with silence, mixed with unseen appreciation people out there think enough of your books to buy them, read them, and discuss them.
First rule for every published author: Once your book is released, it ceases to be “yours.” It now belongs to each and every reader separately, and every one of them approaches your work from his/her own intensely personal perspective. In the end, as with music, how the book is interpreted is out of your control, and you won’t please everyone.
Have good day, wherever you are in the world. Me? Uh, time for more cold medication. Ugh. 😦
UPDATE: For more on this issue, from (by pure coincidence) today as well: