Should authors care about reader feedback?
Authors care too much about what unimportant people think
Do you care about the reviews on your books?
Do you obsess over one-star reviews on Goodreads? Are you losing sleep because somebody didn't like your book?
Before I get into this post, if you've got a minute, listen to this bit from shock-jock Howard Stern:
Love Howard or hate him, doesn't matter your feelings about the man himself.
Listen to the attitude.
He knows that his value as a creator is not about responding to what his fans think.
He didn't build the brand of Howard Stern by asking his listeners what he should do better.
He did it by being Howard Stern.
HOWARD: The way that I was an innovator was to IGNORE the feedback.
If you make things and send them out into the world, you must understand this.
Get it tattooed somewhere if that will help you. But remember this.
You are not in the game of responding to feedback from the audience.
Reader reviews are like the rules in a game
Imagine you're off on a relaxing vacation.
You meet a group of friendly strangers who invite you to play a game of Monopoly.
After a few moves, you make a couple of bad deals and you're on the hook for a lot of money.
Are you on the hook for your bad investment in the Short Line railroad?
No way. It's just a game.
A group of people got together and agreed to obey these rules until somebody won or flipped over the board.
What would you think of somebody that treated the game as if it were a real part of his life? Everybody else picked up and moved on, but this guy's still acting like you owe him rent on Park Place.
You'd think he was pulling your leg, or a total nutcase.
The game's rules only matter as long as you're playing.
When you stop, nobody cares.
Feedback from your readers is no different.
It only matters if you're playing the game.
What game are you playing as a writer?
Are you a writer because you need everyone everywhere to like your work?
I won't speak for anyone else, but I write for me.
If you like my work, great. If you don't care for it, it wasn't for you. No problem.
I'm not playing the game of "everybody please like me".
My game is "I write what I want to write". I take a stand, I have a point of view.
Don't get me wrong. A good review is always a boost to the ego. A bad review can sting, even if it's one of those one-star reviews from a person who couldn't make ice in Antarctica.
But you must remember one thing...
Your response is your responsibility
If you aren't playing Monopoly, then it doesn't matter if you landed on "Go to Jail".
The police aren't going to come arrest you.
Things happen. Nobody can control that.
Whether things matter is your call. Not me, not the cliques on social media, not the cartels of reviewers.
Their power begins and ends with your decision to give them attention.
If you don't play the game of "reader feedback" then you don't have to play by its rules.
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