Indie authors actively seek customer reviews because we know they can generate word-of-mouth book sales. Not surprisingly there are actually review mills, offering positive reviews--for a price.
When I first started publishing, I asked my inner circle to PLEASE write a review. And you will see some common names if you check out my various books.
However, as time has gone by, the reviews have come in spontaneously, without begging or coercion. I was shocked last week to discover AIN'T LOVE GRAND? had garnered 23 reviews at Barnes and Noble when I wasn't looking. And you know what--I'm not going to read them!
Yes, I've learned the hard way that reading customer reviews really messes with an author's mind. Several years ago I remember Suzanne Brockmann saying she doesn't read the customers reviews and I thought it odd at the time.
Now I understand. The praising reviews just flit through the mind, but the solitary 1 star sticks like a thorn, forever implanted. I've received two 1 stars that I know of and in each case, I had hit a hot button for the reader. One person ranted about my historical inaccuracy in my satirical comedy, ROYAL REBEL, a twist on the Robin Hood legend.
The other 1 star was one sentence on AIN'T LOVE GRAND? calling it a "religious trap."
It's true that faith and spirituality are a common theme in all my books, even the comedies. It's who I am, the air I breathe, the thoughts I express. Don't read my books if you want to avoid God-talk.
Once a book is published, it's pretty much a done deal. True, now with digital publishing, we can revise with the push of a button. So, I do have a friend read all my reviews in case there is some glaring editing problem that needs revision.
But, on the whole, it's time to move on to the next project, go where the muse leads. Looking back at the customer reviews makes me lose focus on what's ahead. They make me second guess my instincts with everybody's opinion.
Still, it is encouraging just to see a new person has taken the time to say a few words about the story. Maybe someday when I've decided I'm all written out, I'll go back and read the reviews. Hopefully, the good will out weigh the bad and I'll know readers found joy in my imaginings.