I’m not one to read reviews. I admit that I don’t have quite thick enough skin for it. I do well with constructive criticism, but reviews? Nope. Don’t care for them. I find the good ones make me feel as though I have to continuously live up to those high expectations and negative ones...well, lets face it, who wants to be told they suck?
Don’t get me wrong I don’t hate reviews or think they should be banned. I’m actually very supportive of reviews and people expressing their opinions. As an American I believe in the freedom of speech one hundred percent. People have a right to speak their minds, even if it hurts others feelings. But I digress. That isn’t the point of this post.
Sometimes glancing at a review can be unavoidable. It’s like finding a stash of toys at Christmas time in the back of your parents closet covered with only a quilt. As was the case the other day. I saw a review, a negative one actually. The reviewer remarked on how she thinks I write with a formula because I always have the same things in my stories. Her examples were cowboy hats even on werewolves, bratty heroes, and evil families. Another criticism was that the story in question was just like an old Harlequin. Instead of hurting my feelings the comment made me smile. The story was written to pay tribute to my love of serial romance, so saying it was like a Harlequin was actually quite a compliment. But the other things made me think. My first thought was a very belligerent “I do not always have those things and I do not write to a formula!” But then I stopped and really thought about it. I don’t always have those things, but I do have them in several books. Which brought another question to mind. Why? Well, because I like them. Those things are all things I enjoy. A bit of my personality if you will.
I think all authors have these little things. I find that when I read authors who continuously have certain elements in their stories they tend to be comfort reads. Not to say they don’t surprise me or that their stories aren’t fresh, but I know a little of what I can expect and I personally like that. I think that is the reason I love serial romance and all the varied tropes.
So for all you new writers out there. I’d like to say this: Number one, it’s ok not to read reviews. Number two, be yourself and let your personality and your likes and dislikes show in your work. Don’t write to please others. If you please yourself you will undoubtedly please others as well. However, writing to please everyone else... not a good idea.
Also for new writers, I highly recommend to new writers a book by Katie McAllister called Improper English. It's not a gay romance or a writing book. It is a contemporary romance, but it has a lot of valuable lessons hidden in it for writers. It’s also an enjoyable read and very humorous.
Oh and for those of you, like me, that don’t recall my having written a werewolf in a cowboy hat, never fear... I will. Very soon. I promise. ;)