I would like to thank everyone who bought The Unfinished Song: Taboo on its launch day. You helped make the debut successful, and I'm really grateful. It's really heartwarming to know that there were readers eagerly anticipating the second book in the series.
The second book has no reviews yet, and I was not kidding yesterday that I live in terror of receiving reviews on it (what if people don't like it?!). The only thing worse, of course, would be no reviews at all.
It's important to keep that in mind...no reviews at all is worse than the most terrible review in the world.
I think by now probably most of the writing community has seen the pathetic train wreck of an author going ballistic over a lackluster review. For me, it was like rubbernecking at an accident. Although I knew it was a bad idea to keep reading, I couldn't look away.
It pained me to read another book reviewer comment, "And this is is why I don't accept self-publish for review." Apparently she missed the case of the (ahem, traditionally) published author who tried to sue over a negative review. It's not being self-published that is the problem; it's being a fckwit.
I reached my own conclusion, which was that my policy of not commenting on reviewer blogs was probably for the best. Not that I would ever, ever start telling people left and right to "fck off." If I did comment on reviewer blogs that reviewed my books, it would be to thank them for the review, regardless of the content of the review. Michelle Davidson Argyle does this, and I've always thought she was so gracious and delightful about it, no matter the content of the review.
However, I read a discussion between a couple of book reviewers mentioning that they don't like the sense an author is looking over their shoulder when they write the review. Although they could obviously on speak for themselves, and other reviewers might feel differently, it kind of spooked me off commenting at all, even to express gratitude. What if it were too tempting to me to leave it at that, and I found myself wanting to answer the reviewers questions about this or that point? For instance, one very astute reviewer of The Unfinished Song: Initiate wanted to know why there were no domesticated dogs in the story, when dogs were domesticated far earlier than cats. I was tempted to jump into the comments section and say, "There are dogs in another tribe, one we haven't met yet." But is that really my place to jump in like that? I don't want to give the impression that he book cannot speak for itself. So I didn't say anything. I really liked that review, though. The reviewer made so many intelligent observations.
If I were a book reviewer, I wouldn't want the feeling the author was hanging over my shoulder either. Still, the internet cuts both ways. If a reviewer really did write a meanie-pants review, the author is going to find it and read it and weep soggy tears over it. Even if authors don't comment, we are just as capable of ego-googling as the next person. I actively search the internet for reviews of my books, so I can link back to them from the website. I am probably not the only author to do so.
I admit, I have considered not reading reviews at all. I can link to the site without reading them. I keep telling myself that's what I'll do and I came leaving anyway.
The problem is that I can't stick to that. Morbid curiosity compels me, but it's more than that. When else can one's get independent feedback about one's book? That's too good to pass up. The danger is that the review will mention some flaw in your writing that you can't dispute, casting you into the deepest bowels of depression. The benefit may be that a reviewer could show you an insight into the book that you were too close to see yours.