Tuesday, December 15, 2015

My Audience

A popular post from October 2009

By Julie Wright

Reviews are of the devil. No really. They are.

And I'm not just saying that bad reviews are of the devil. I think most reviews are. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE getting glowing reviews. Really. Love it! But I despise the evil reviews, the ones where someone who is NOT your target audience bemoans your story, characters, YOU. I've had reviews that have made me cry. I've also had reviews that made me feel like I was earth shatteringly amazing.

Both sides are a little jaded. And the emotional roller coaster that comes with reading your own reviews is not a safe place for most writers. The incredible highs and abysmal lows are things other, normal people get medicated for. Bi-polar anyone?

I think reviews are good (and necessary) for the reader, but not a benefit (for the most part) to the writer. Readers need reviews so they know what they want to read next. Writers don't need to know what is in their book. They wrote it. They already know.

Maybe you're different, but what happens to me when I read a bad review is akin to writer's block. I can't move. I can't think well enough to type. I feel this awful pit in my stomach that seems it might never go away. A bad review could set me off for a couple of hours, or a couple of days, depending on the review and the moody mood I'm in when I read it.

What happens when I read a good review is akin to writer's block. I can't move. I can't think well enough to type. I feel this insane euphoria as I bask in my own brilliance. A good review could set me off for a couple of hours, or a couple of days, depending on the review and the moody mood I'm in when I read it.

See what I mean? Of. The. Devil.

So what do I do to avoid this review roller coaster? Try not to read them—that is how I handle it. It might be a little head in the sand, but I feel emotionally unstable enough without other people projecting their admiration or scorn on me. I used to read them all the time, like a bizarre obsession. The great reviews sent me soaring. The bad reviews made me crawl under my covers with ice cream and a spoon. I can’t afford either extreme so I just don’t read them anymore.

I had a friend recently lamenting over three stars on their review. Three out of five stars isn’t bad though. It means the reader liked the book and might even recommend the book to others. It doesn’t mean they would pull the book out of their burning house if they only had time to save only one thing, but that they read the book and enjoyed it for what it was.

I’ve also come to conclude that I write to the people who love what I write. They are my audience. But not everyone will love what I write—and that is okay. I am not writing to everyone. I’m writing to my audience.

6 comments:

Stephanie Black said...

Julie, I SO admire you for being disciplined enough not to obsessively read reviews. I'm still in the obsessive stage . . . it's a sickness.

Kimberly said...

I? Am definitely a happy memeber of that audience. I shan't go into details though lest I send you reeling up to the highest heights, as it were.

Well said, Julie. This is advice I hope to have the opportunity to take some day!

L.T. Elliot said...

Well, I love what you write so we're all good. =]

Lu Ann Brobst Staheli said...

I don't read my reviews either. Now the comments from my critique group? That's another matter altogether. Their comments come at a stage when I can still do something about it. Same goes for the editor's comments, but a reader? Although I hope they enjoy what I've written, to allow myself to stew over specifics they might or might not have liked only stops me from spending time writing the next book or article, and that's time I don't have if I want to be a paid writer.

Josi said...

I keep thinking I'm to a point where I can objectively handle reviews--but I can't. They deeply affect me and, like you, I get stalled by either pride or despair. It's lame, but it's true for me.

Nick said...

It means the reader liked the book and might even recommend the book to others. It doesn’t mean they would pull the book out of their burning house if they only had time to save only one thing, but that they read the book and enjoyed it for what it was.

You talk about "the reader" a singular noun, but use "they". Why?