Reviews are important. There’s no point denying just how much a review affects us, regardless of whether it is positive or negative. Even if the review is generally positive, we still find ourselves paying attention to that very last less-than-good remark the reviewer included as an afterthought. The “If only the author had done this, the story would’ve turned out much better”, or “It’s a good book, but [include bad remark here]”.
That said, however, I actually feel surprised whenever a complete stranger reads my book and compliments it. It’s as if I cannot believe that all that praise is for my obscure novel. I almost want to tell the reviewer, “Hey, are you absolutely sure you’re not reviewing the wrong book?” Haha.
I’ve been lucky so far in terms of reviews. I am still waiting for that negative review to come along. Every time I see someone add my book to their Currently Reading shelf on Goodreads, I try to prepare myself mentally for the possibility that this new reader will absolutely HATE my book and give me a review so horrible I’ll sit in a corner and cry. But it has yet to happen. I almost want it to happen so I can stop worrying about it. Is that weird?
Recently I received two lovely reviews from Patricia and Richard Bunning for Puppet Parade, and I can’t tell you how happy they made me. But amidst my squeals of delight, there was this niggling voice in the back of my head that could not believe these two lovely people were talking about my book. Why is it that we so readily take criticism to heart and yet find it difficult to accept that yes, maybe our novel is really worth all that praise?
Is it perhaps because we’re our own worst critic? Do we lower our expectations so much that we can’t readily accept a glowing review when we see one? Or maybe because we think that there are books out there that are more worthy of the praise we received? Or is it that we don’t think very highly of our books?
It’s not just reviews either. Whenever I receive an award here on WordPress, I feel touched and surprised that people think of me and perceive me deserving of such awards, or decide that I’m interesting enough to be spotlighted on their blogs.
What do you think? How do you react when you receive a review or an award? And what do you more readily accept, the positive or the negative?