The first Monday of every month is Inspirational Monday. We share something that inspires us and this month I'm going to share my thoughts on reviews, specifically negative reviews.
Reviews are the lifeblood of any author; self-published or traditionally published. They often lead to more sales but the emotional capital is just as important. When I started out with fanfiction it was the reviews that inspired me to continue writing. Fanfiction.net is a poor place for constructive criticism but a great place for validation of your skills; most reviews will be something like 'great story' or 'update soon'. These tell the budding author that they are doing something right and so they continue to write and as they write they get better.
Later I started original fiction and it was like starting over because I had to start from scratch. It was very hard to build the confidence to let anyone read it but when I did I was glad for it. The people I showed it to liked it; they laughed when I wanted to be funny and cheered the characters I hoped they would cheer for. It was still hard to push that 'publish' button on Amazon but I'm glad I did because twelve of my fourteen reviews are positive and they make me feel wonderful.
The other two make me feel bad but that makes them important too. 'Remember Caesar, thou art mortal.' If an author is showered with nothing but praise their head will get big and they will make mistakes that could ruin a book. On TvTropes we call this Protection From Editors and it never goes anywhere pleasant.
For myself I have a review for A Mage's Power titled 'Nope' with which I have a love-hate relationship; on one hand they write a paragraph about why they don't like setting but on the other hand they write a paragraph about why they don't like my setting. It is a detailed criticism. I love that; I appreciate it, and even though it says bad things about my book I like the review because it is four paragraphs long. I keep their criticism in mind when revising the sequel (Looming Shadow) because I want to address their concerns. Finally, their review generates discussion about my book. As of this blog post thirty six people have voted whether or not they found the review helpful which is far more than any other review I have on Amazon.
Speaking of bad reviewers I just read a post from Jean Gill about the importance of not stalking them. Click here if you want to read it.