A Writer and Reviews

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What exactly does a review of a book mean to a writer?

For different writers it means different things.

For some it is a sign of recognition, a ticket into the exclusive club of writers, for others it is a validation of their writing. But most of all, I think, for any writer, a review is a sign that there are readers out there who have noticed her book, welcomed it and befriended it. For a book, born in the safe vault of a writer’s mind, being published and sent out into the world is a big outing and both the book and its creator are bound to experience nervous pangs. A review comforts them.

Of course, this is assuming a review is positive. There are reviews that find huge holes in the plot, dismiss the logic of the story and sneer at the way the book ends. What does a writer do then? How does she react to a negative review of her book?

A negative review is painful, it leaves the writer feeling vulnerable and unsure, wondering if she ought to even write again. No well meaning comfort from friends, family and editors works at this point. It is entirely the writer’s responsibility to understand that no story can be universally liked. The writer has to accept that every reader is bound to have an opinion on how the book could have been edited better, or how the characters could have been made more likeable or even what would have been a truly thrilling climax. Some reviewers even offer kind suggestions on how the writer can improve her writing style, her characterization or even her dialogues.

All I can say is – take these in good part. What they all mean is that your reviewers have read your book with close attention. It shows that the reviewer spent some time thinking about the story and the characters, and some additional time coming up with suggestions for you.   The involved nature of their comments suggests a level of engagement with your book that should thrill any writer.

Because, after all, isn’t that why you became a writer?

So people would read your stories?

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