Why Reading Reviews Won’t Improve Your Writing

Reviews Hurt Writing

In three weeks, my fourth book, THE WARRIOR, will release. I should know by now to stay far, far away from reviews, and to focus instead on my next book. But alas, I no good at being learned. So I sometimes read my reviews, and what I tell myself is that they teach me how to be a better writer. They have to, right? Because I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked in interviews if reviews improve my craft. I used to believe they did. And then this happened.

I decided this morning to browse through my reviews to uncover my obvious strengths and weaknesses. By and large, what I learned is that readers had contradictory opinions on every single aspect of my writing and storytelling.

Let’s have a side-by-side look, shall we?

 

CHARACTERS:
*From Fire & Flood
Positive – “Tella, a girl who was once interested mostly in clothes and makeup, develops an inner toughness and emerges as a strong leader. Well-developed secondary characters and the unpredictable Pandoras add depth and interest.” – VOYA
Negative – “Characters are two-dimensional, and some, especially Titus and his rogue Triggers, are downright cartoonish.” – School Library Journal 

WORLD-BUILDING:
*From Fire & Flood
Positive – “I found myself completely drawn into the story, completely sucked in. I was never totally confused or lost, nor was I ever halfway asleep.”
Negative – “The foundations are shaky, almost as if the race was given all the attention, and not enough thought was put into the hows and whys. ”

PLOT:
*From The Collector
Positive – “Now, the plot of the book is excellent as well.”
Negative – “Plot-wise, unfortunately, The Collector is lacking.”

PACING:
*From The Liberator
Positive – “There are definitely twists and turns along with tons of action in the book, which I thought kept things moving at a great pace and had me at the edge of my seat with every page. ”
Negative – “The plot was a little slow at the beginning, but once you get about a 1/4th of the way through the plot picks up…”

ENDINGS:
*From Fire & Flood
Positive – “The ending was to die for.”
Negative – “I did like some of the reveals towards the end, though the entire scene in the last sequence came across shoddy and rather messy. ”

SEQUELS:
*From The Liberator
Positive – “[Victoria] has achieved what I suspect all authors strive for when writing a sequel. And that is that it will be better than the previous book. Well, The Liberator is way beyond better. It is amazing in it’s epicness.”
Negative – “I’ve read The Liberator straight after I was done with The Collector, you know, when my whole body was still simmering with expectation. Sadly, my expectation wasn’t met.”

 

So, what has this taught me? That reviews are useless? Not at all. Reviews help readers decide what to buy, and that serves an incredible purpose. But should you, as an author, base your next book, or your self-worth as a writer, on reviews? Hell to the no. You know that old adage, write for yourself? It turns out it’s pretty true. With so many stories to choose from, we should be grateful that someone has chosen ours to read, regardless of how they feel about it. As for you..the writer…work hard on your books, love your story, and keep your eyes on your next project. Your stories are worthy, and beautiful, and entertaining. And you don’t need me or anyone else to tell you so.

Keep writing!