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  • Writer's pictureJessica Nacovsky

120: Avoiding Reader Reviews

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

Howdy! My debut YA dark portal fantasy novel, Stem & Stone, was released on September 19th, so nearly a month ago. In that time, I'm aware that the novel has accumulated some reviews. The Goodreads app now brings me to a page featuring the star rating for Stem & Stone when I visit "My Profile." I'm sure they have a valid reason for this, but I'm fast learning to avoid clicking that link.

What reviews my publisher has shared with me have been positive and I'm grateful. However, I've witnessed enough very public author reactions to reviews, that I plan to avoid them entirely. Plus, as a generally anxious person already prone to second guessing myself on the regular, I'm not looking to add to those insecurities. The book is out in the world now. It's finished and, while perhaps some minor adjustments could be made to a future edition, I have no intention of making any great changes. There is a sequel outlined but I don't know when I'll get to it, as there are other manuscripts in need of drastic revisions first.

I'm outspoken about the importance of treating critiques as feedback, both with regards to visual art and writing projects. And I mean what I say, but there is a difference between sending out an excerpt to an agent in the hopes that they'll agree to champion it, and having them respond with a detailed critique—versus having the reader waltz up to give their opinion. Making a project public, selling it as a product, or sharing it as content, is to make it widely available for the judgement of others. And consumers are wholly entitled to share that judgement but I'm not actively seeking it out. In this scenario, I reached out to the agent due to their professional reputation in this creative field, so their providing an account of why they've chosen for or against my work, is objectively helpful for the growth of the project. Whereas the consumer has reacted to a finished piece and while their feelings may influence some future endeavor, they can have no major impact on that which is has been released. Their interpretation may weigh on the opinion of other consumers, which is fine, but I don't want or need to know it. The reader is not entitled to subject me to their interpretation of my work.

Forever ago, I learned that Eminem doesn't use the internet, or social media really, because he would obsess over consumers' reactions to his work. I've done exactly zero research to verify this claim, and have a much less public facing lifestyle, but I agree with the sentiment. It's always appeared brazenly rude to me, when reviewers tag the author in their negative review. The author will choose to read reviews if they want to know the opinion of the reader. I don't, and if I do, I'll ask for it. This is me prioritizing my mental and emotional well being.

Thanks for stopping by! I drop a new blog post every Monday! Toodles!

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