Do not read, and certainly do not believe your own press.
If someone hates what you do and thinks it is dreadful, and she writes about it in whatever medium, you will be crushed. I don’t care who you are, or how successful, a bad review, even if it’s written by some internet amateur who can’t string a sentence together, will sting. Why put yourself through it?
Why put yourself in the position of worrying about what is already in print, let alone what comes next while you’re still in the process of writing it?
If someone loves what you do and thinks it’s wonderful, and he writes about it in whatever medium, there is a risk that your head will swell. I don’t care who you are, or whether it’s your very first book or your tenth, a good review, especially if it’s written by a professional critic for a broadsheet newspaper, will make you feel invincible. Why put yourself through it?
Why put yourself in the position of believing you can do no wrong, and expecting vast sales, and a change in your fortunes before you’ve even begun the next book?
Reviews are not for you. Reviews are for your audience. Reviews are there so that readers can find things to interest them.
All publicity is good publicity.
One review on Amazon (yes... I know... I mustn’t swear)... just one, no matter how negative it is, will increase sales of a book by up to 30%. I realise that doesn’t help much if you’ve sold fewer than three books, but, once you’ve sold the third, if things go well, selling the fourth ought to be a little easier.
The people that matter are the readers, the people who vote with their purses and wallets, with their money-clips and pocket-books. Your reviewers don’t pay your mortgage, your readers do.
Thus far, I have not had the misfortune of having a great many reviews written about any of my work, because, so far, it’s mostly been short stories tucked away in anthologies, or anonymous stuff for kids, or collaborations, but the husband’s work is reviewed on a daily basis.
He’s a lucky writer, the husband. He doesn’t read his reviews, but you can bet your life that I do. I read the good ones and the bad ones, and I’m happy to tweet them, or pull quotes for new editions of whatever book is being discussed.
Not every writer has someone to run the office, but if and when I start putting myself out there, one of the very first things I’m going to do is pay the daughter thruppence a go for reading my press for me, and then telling me nothing about what she’s up to.
I do so love having a plan.