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Do not read reviews of your writing.

It might sound strange. It might even sound dangerous. But I encourage you to live dangerously.

Nothing good was ever gained by reading the reviews of people who make a living by pretending they hold the fates of unsuspecting authors in their hands. Their job is to criticize you. And even if they are a particularly nice reviewer, they will never capture your meaning in the words you so long to hear or summarize your tale in any but a paltry way. Do not be fooled by the title ‘Reviewer’. They are not God. They do not know your target market as well as you and your publisher do.  They did not weigh the decisions you made with as much care and consideration. They do not have the same stake in the success of the book. And as they review book after book they look for flaws. Few readers read your work with the intention to pick it apart (and you should not write for those readers anyway).

There is a place for reviews. Negativity has its time–BEFORE the book is published. After: not so much. There is far more to be gained by observing what wonderful pieces of your work readers hold onto then by worrying over the few things they did not get. So readers, if you hope to influence a writer and you just have to email them, then tell them what you loved, not what you hated. Writers, I suggest getting someone else to skim reviews (be they from professionals or unprofessionals) before you waste your time. More than likely even the kindest words will crawl into your skull and whisper “You’re not doing that right” whenever you sit down with your laptop to compose. Even the words of good friends can destroy the joy in writing.

And before you think that I am blogging this in rage and tears, know: I have not read a review in months. My writing life is not compromised; my mental status is much happier! My advice to you: submit to criticism before your work is released; do not read post-publication reviews.

Sincerely,

Someone who learned it the hard way

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