The Effect of Negative Reviews, or Why I've Stopped Reading All Reviews

Someone out on KindleBoards asked the following question:

Do negative reviews ever make you feel like giving up?

The responses were varied but there's definitely a common theme: Don't let them get to you.

Early on negative reviews did bother me. Now? Not really. In fact, I've gotten to the point now where I don't even read reviews. It doesn't matter if they're good or bad. I know a lot of writers do this. I can't help it if a person likes my writing or not, and while it's validating and reassuring to read a good review I tend to get sucked into the negative ones too once I'm out there. I can't do anything about them either way, so unless the person has pointed out some mechanical errors what am I going to do with it?

Another reason I've stopped reading reviews is because I think readers and reviewers should be left alone by the writer. I didn't always think this way. Initially I was liking and commenting on any review that came my way. I think some of that early writer enthusiasm has worn off, though, and so now I've taken on a more hands-off approach. It's different if a reader/reviewer initiates contact first either through Twitter or Goodreads or some other channel, but if that relationship has not already been established I leave it alone. It doesn't matter if it's a good review or a bad one. People are all over the map on this. Some think that because we're now living in such a connected world that such behavior is normal and even appreciated. I don't know… I think as a reader and reviewer myself that having an author jump on a review of mine with comments, etc. is kind of creepy. Almost stalker-like. Even worse, it makes me hesitate to say what I really think. I don't want my own reviewers to have any hesitation. I want the gospel on their thoughts. So Stalker Scott is laying low.

The last reason I've stopped reading reviews is because they really don't nudge me one way or the other on my writing journey. I'm not doing this to be liked or loved or to gain the appreciation of the masses (or the opposite). I'm also not doing this for money (read this if you have any illusions about the potential for independent writing riches). Last, and this goes against the goals of many other indie writers, but I'm also not doing this in order to enter into a new career. I like my current occupation as a software engineer just fine.

All this being said, I do appreciate people taking the time to leave reviews, but I've come to believe that those reviews are not for me. They're for other readers to help them make an informed decision about their next read. I can only control the product itself. Not what other people think of it once it's 'out there'. If I've learned anything out of life at this point it's to only worry about the things I can control. Reviews isn't one of them.