I never react to reviews of my books. In fact, while I enjoy stumbling upon a great review of one of my novels (and if I really like it, I may even tweet about it), I seldom read through a review that promises to be unpleasant. Reviewers are entitled to their opinions, whether I like them or not, and there is no point in getting hot under the collar if someone doesn’t like my work (or me).
But I do read reviews of other author’s books, both before and after reading the book itself. Comparing views on a book is interesting, because you learn why people react to the same thing in different ways, and also because a keen-eyed reader may have spotted some important detail that you have missed. I am particularly interested in reading negative reviews left by readers of a book that I rated 4 or 5 stars, and sometimes I learn interesting things about what may put a reader off.
Many of the differences between readers have to do with preferences – people who must have a happy ending, or who want more romance, or less of it, etc. Since there is no accounting for personal tastes it is difficult to draw many conclusions from their reviews.
And then you have the morons.
I have recently finished reading a great book (the title of which I will not reveal, to avoid any potential exposure of the reviewer to whom I will make reference below). The book was masterfully written, with a riveting and original plot and likable, three-dimensional characters – in short, one of the few books that I catalogue in my mind under the “I wish I had written it” category. So I had to read a review that gave it 2 stars and find out the reasons for the low rating. The reasons given by the reviewer were essentially the following: