I have a confession to make.
I read a lot of one-star and two-star reviews on Amazon.
Okay, so it’s not so I can laugh at the author, but I still feel a little guilty about it. I always read the book first, so I'm supporting the author by purchasing the book (especially if it's a debut author), and so my experience isn’t tainted by someone else’s opinion. Then I read the reviews to see if other readers caught the same things I did—which is the case about 99% of the time. Oftentimes, the same issues pop up in review after review.
Why would I subject myself to so much negativity?
I agree there are some reviews that are unnecessarily mean, but many are well thought out and very well written. The best reviews weigh the good against the bad—showing what’s working and what’s not. Sometimes, they even point out things I’d glossed over and ignored because the same things are happening in my work. This was especially true when I was first starting out. Yes, I know not everyone is going to love my story and no matter how perfect I get it, it will never be good enough for some people, but it does force me to look at my work more critically and decide if the things I thought no one else would notice are worth changing.
Ultimately, for me, it’s just another tool to help me improve my writing.
As to whether I would read negative reviews of my own book if that ever became a possibility—I don’t know. Probably not.
What about you? Anything to add? Anything to confess? :)