Yes, I read all my reviews. I didn’t always, but I have written enough published works that I no longer experience depression or ecstasy from reading them, just minor irritation or tentative pleasure, and even those as background noise to useful tidbits in my ongoing growth as a writer.
There are times in every writer’s creative cycle when discouragement lurks. The reason may stem from diminishing royalties, fewer readers, or simply the sameness of routine, day after day. But nothing picks me back up more than a happy, positive review from a reader for whom one of my books has made a difference. These are the sparks that stimulate a new surge of creativity.
By the same token, a less positive review, while first tending to be discouraging, if meaningful, can open a new perspective for me, which in itself is a renewing experience. Such reviews are seldom about the craft of writing (I look elsewhere for that), but are comments about themes and plots, character development, likes and dislikes, all serving to remind me of the diversity of the human experience.
I expect a reviewer will have read the entire book, thus placing us on a similar wavelength, sharing common ground. This reader may wish for a different outcome, may dislike certain characters, or wish others hadn’t gone away, and comment to this effect, but we are both aboard the same train, however long it may be, and the comments are useful.
It is evident when reviewers have not completed the book, but have departed after a chapter or two. So often their complaints have resolved themselves in another few chapters. And my particular peeve is the non-reader who rates the book a “1”. How can they know? If they accidentally selected the wrong genre, or had a different expectation, they can always return it and buy something else, but please don’t express your ire with a “1”.
I have had reviewers who notice typos, repeated words, extra words, and so on, and mention them with a page or chapter reference. This is extremely helpful (you can find such errors in any book, no matter who the publisher), and I immediately note them and remove them and republish (yes, we can do that!). Please don’t say something like “there are many errors” but neglect to say what or where. The books run sixty to eighty thousand words. Finding those errors (if they still exist), without knowing which edition or format the reviewer has read, is a near impossible job.
Then there are those (a few) who Email me and explain exactly where they found errors and what format they had read. And when they begin their Emails saying how much they enjoyed the book, it is the icing on the cake.
Reading reviews tells me how well I have reached my targeted audience and suggests more precisely what one hopes to find in my novels. While I can’t please everyone in a single book, I do keep your thoughts in mind when writing. If the reviewer is commenting on book #9, I can probably assume I have hit the target somewhere in the previous eight!
I write novels to entertain, and reviews tell me how well I am doing with that. Keep writing reviews, and I’ll keep writing novels!