Thursday, September 17, 2015

by Beth K. Vogt 

Don’t read book reviews. 

I’ve heard variations of this statement ever since I published my first novel, Wish You Were Here, in 2012.
I don’t read my book reviews (said by other authors).
Don’t read your book reviews (said by my mentors).
What are you doing reading your book reviews? I told you to stay away from [insert name of Amazon/GoodReads/review site here] (said by my mentors when I confess that I’ve ignored what they said and read my reviews).
Why don’t you read your book reviews? I like to read reviews of my books. I always learn something from the negative reviews (said by other authors who have a stronger emotional stability than I do – or are just lying).

My honest take on the subject: Book reviews make me crazy.

There are two fundamental reasons why book reviews push my crazy buttons:

I can put too much credence in positive reviews. It’s a bit like actress Sally Field exclaiming, “And I can’t deny the fact that you like me … right now, you like me!” when she won an Oscar for Places in the Heart. We all want to be liked, and every author wants their books to be liked too. But being liked “right now” becomes being liked “then.” We can’t go through life holding our breath, waiting for the next positive review.

I can let negative reviews ruin my day. On a normal day – if you’re inclined to believe writers have normal days – I’m resilient enough to a) not read reviews and b) not let reviews be more than someone else’s opinion. But when I’m on deadline and the story is snarled and I’m doubting my abilities as a writer…well then, negative reviews are the equivalent of pouring myself a glass of battery acid and then chugging it.

Howard Books, 2015
I wander over to Amazon or to a blogger’s website or to Goodreads, and I let someone tell me what they think about my book. And yes, I take it personally instead of being a professional and remembering some people will like my book and some people won’t. That’s the biz.

I made this mistake as I lasered in on my most recent deadline. At the same time I was working toward pushing SEND, but I was also keeping track of my just-released novel, Crazy Little Thing Called Love. Checking its Amazon ranking. Sneaking peeks at reviews. When they were good, I was good. When they were not good, I tanked.

I had no business trolling online and counting stars, looking for the positive and getting hamstringed by the negative. But I did it anyway – I invited the crazy right in.

How did I show “crazy” the door and get back on solid ground?

1. I went for the fun. One of my mentors, best-selling author Rachel Hauck, reminded me to have fun with my story. To do this, I had to forget what other people were saying about my just-released novel. No checking Amazon. No reading reviews. I needed to focus solely on the story I was writing, remember why I loved it, and enjoy writing again. 

2. I put up a boundary. I am blessed to have a virtual assistant (VA), who truly does help my life run more smoothly. Now, when I get sent a link that a review is up on Novel Rocket or when someone tweets that they posted a review, I send that info to my VA so she can read it. If she wants to tweet a positive quote, so be it.

3. I remember the truth. Several weeks ago, I had a custom ring made for myself with a partial quote by Charles H. Spurgeon. It says: “He is the only ground of confidence.” Every day – sometimes minute by minute – I need to remember that God is my source of confidence and the only one who can tell me who I am.

Crazy Little Thing Called Love is the first novel in my destination wedding series. There’s also a fungiveaway celebrating release of Autumn Brides, a trio of novellas by authors Katie Ganshert, Kathryn Springer, and me.

Beth K. Vogt
Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author who said she’d never write fiction, the wife of an Air Force physician who said she’d never marry anyone in the military and a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “never.” A 2015 RITA® Finalist and a 2015 and 2014 Carol Award finalist, her 2014 novel, Somebody Like You, was one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2014. She lives in Colorado with her husband, Rob, and their youngest daughter. 

For more information about Beth, visit her website, become a fan on Facebook or follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.


  1. Great advice. Personally, I loved this book and your style of writing, but being a daughter of greatest King is the best label and title we ever want. I love your authenticity and humanness. Thanks for being real!

  2. Hi, Sarah: Thank you for your encouraging words. And yes, standing in the Truth of Whose we are is the most important thing!


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