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No, reviews Are Not Just for Readers

Essay 4 | Writing & Self-Empowerment Series

By Cendrine MarrouatPublished 4 months ago Updated 4 months ago 4 min read
Top Story - January 2024
Photo credit: Cendrine Marrouat - creativeramblings.com

A few years ago, I came across the worst review ever written about any of my books.

According to the reader, the cover looked amateurish; the poems made no sense; and the whole concept was poorly implemented. The book had zero redeeming qualities and did not even deserve a second look.

Did that review impact sales? Could I have prevented it from being published? Should have I lost sleep over it? No, no, and no.

In a perfect world, readers would always use the sandwich method to share their thoughts. But we do not live in a perfect world, so expecting that is a waste of time.

An increasing number of indie authors now refuse to read reviews. Their reasons?

"Reviews were written for other readers, not for me. I don't need the added stress of knowing whether readers like or dislike my work. Indie authors, you are better off without those kinds of things."

(Interestingly enough, the discourse changes as soon as their books receive 5-star reviews...)

Yes, many readers do not write reviews to please indie authors. Actually, I do not think they have other readers in mind either when they do. And yes, of course, authors do not have to read comments about their books if that makes them uncomfortable or they do not have time. But, here is a question:

Why then invest hundreds of hours and dollars to create something whose success is mainly dependent on word of mouth, if you do not care about said word of mouth?

Let me state two things that indie authors often conveniently overlook in conversations:

  • As soon as you hit the publish button, your book is no longer yours per say. You may own the copyright, but the product it becomes will have a life of its own.
  • Readers are consumers. When they buy your book, they have the right to tell the rest of the world what they think.

Reviews are for readers AND authors alike. Any indie author telling you otherwise clearly does not understand how business works.

"Cendrine, you are so wrong! Feedback from beta readers is the only thing that authors should worry about."

Yes, beta readers are wonderful. My books would certainly not be as good as they are without those I have worked with. However, beta readers can only do so much for me. Even if I asked 50 of them to help on each project, that number would still not be enough for me to cover the full spectrum of my current and future readers.

That is why I and all the indie authors I know force themselves to read reviews. We want to know how impactful our work can be. For many of us, reviews are pretty much the only tool we have to gauge who our ideal readers are.

On the fence about reading reviews of your own books? That is okay! However, I would recommend asking yourself why. Chances are that you will find out that Imposter Syndrome might be the culprit.

Trust me on this. Reading readers' comments, even when they are not as praiseworthy as we would expect, can be a very educative experience. Here is what I learned on my end:

You cannot please the whole world. Readers have specific tastes, opinions, and expectations.

A bad review is (very) rarely a personal attack against you or your book. It is someone’s way of telling you how your words have affected them. 

Readers are allowed to have opinions, especially if they believe that you did not deliver what you promised in your blurb. A bad critique is not evidence that the person is stupid or does not understand your message or passion.

Not every review is meant to be helpful. Always separate the wheat from the chaff. Take what you deem constructive enough, ditch the rest, and move on with your day.

Of the two examples below, which one do you prefer? Number 2, right?

Finally, and this is probably the most important lesson: Learn to let go. Bad reviews are certainly not nice to read. But it is the way you react to them that will determine your success as a creative. Because nothing turns people off more than a person who lets their ego do the talking.

Now, go follow your bliss! 🙂


This essay is part of the collaborative series on writing and self-empowerment that Mackenzie Davis and I started a few months ago. For more information about it, click below.

That's it for today! Thank you for reading.


Cendrine Marrouat is a writer, photographer, podcaster, blogger, anthology editor, and the co-founder of Auroras & Blossoms and A Warm Cup of Cozy. She has authored and co-authored more than 40 books, including The Train: A Short Story (2023), In Her Own Words: A Collection of Short Stories & Flashku (2022), After the Fires of Day: Haiku Inspired by Kahlil Gibran & Alphonse de Lamartine (2021), Rhythm Flourishing: A Collection of Kindku and Sixku (2020), Walks: A Collection of Haiku (2019-2020), and In the Silence of Words: A Three-Act Play (2018).

Cendrine's work has appeared in many publications. She is the creator of the Sixku, Flashku, Sepigram, and Reminigram; as well as the co-creator of the Kindku, Pareiku, Vardhaku, and Hemingku.


About the Creator

Cendrine Marrouat

Writer & Author⎜Photographer⎜Artist⎜Co-founder of Auroras & Blossoms / A Warm Mug of Cozy⎜(Co-)creator of literary forms

"The Train: A Short Story" is out!

Website: https://creativeramblings.com

Donations: https://ko-fi.com/cendrineartist

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Comments (17)

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  • Anna 3 months ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳

  • Phil Flannery4 months ago

    I take on board everything you say. My struggle is that I don't feel qualified to critique others' work, especially poetry. if it doesn't speak to me I heart and move on. Is this rude? Or simply cowardly?

  • C. H. Richard4 months ago

    I love this line learn separate "the wheat from chaff." So true. I totally agree with all the points raised in your article. Well done and congratulations on Top Story 👏 ♥️

  • Bopo4 months ago


  • Alistairpo4 months ago

    Great texst

  • The Dani Writer4 months ago

    I like the specificity you went into here. Turning the microscope inwards is a BIG plus showing that you practice what you preach. And to tackle an awkward/uncomfortable writer issue + resolution full tilt...you, my dear, get five stars! Well done!

  • Brin J.4 months ago

    I always think the same exact thing: why write a book for people to enjoy if you don't care about their opinion of it? 🤔 It's counterproductive. I agree with your viewpoint; just don't let the bad reviews stick with you. Learn from them, and then move forward.

  • Kendall Defoe 4 months ago

    Excellent article and a good reminder of why we are all here... 😎😉

  • Babs Iverson4 months ago

    Congratulations on Top Story!!!🥰🥰🥰

  • Babs Iverson4 months ago

    Wonderful Wonderful advice!!! Loved it!!!💕❤️❤️

  • Rachel Deeming4 months ago

    This echoed lots of thoughts of my own. I hope more writers read this!

  • Test4 months ago

    Well done! Keep pushing forward with your excellent work—congrats!

  • Yes, the feedback in reviews is very important. I have several self-published books on the market. The first one I published back around 2008 was receiving poor reviews almost all poor reviews. At first I ignored them then I started reading them. I came to find the four reviews were because the formatting of the book somehow became messed up when I published it. Therefore I unpublish the book and I fixed the formatting. Put a new cover on it. Published it again and promoted it a bit. And I went on to sell over 4,000 copies of the book. This time around I got very good reviews.

  • Kenny Penn4 months ago

    I’m with you, I think feedback is important no matter where it come from. However I think it’s also important to not take a single review alone to heart, good or bad. Good advice, great article Cendrine

  • Mackenzie Davis4 months ago

    This is great, Cendrine! I have been waiting for this essay, and even considered writing about it myself, but you’re in the better position to do so, since I have not published any books yet. The bit about beta readers is particularly important in my opinion. OF COURSE a batch of beta readers wouldn’t represent the full spectrum of readers. It really is a silly argument for not reading reviews. 
Great tie in to the imposter syndrome, too. I hope anyone reading this can take your advice and figure out why they’re struggling with reader reviews. I get the anxiety, but we should all strive for developing a thick skin and being open to other people’s viewpoints, especially when it comes to our own selves and our achievements. This piece of advice you give is my favorite: "A bad review is (very) rarely a personal attack against you or your book. It is someone’s way of telling you how your words have affected them." This is important to remember. Of course we can acknowledge that not all that we read is a personal attack. But in today’s digital landscape, it’s much harder to believe that. I think you offer an alternate perspective here that really helps change the emotional reaction to one of practical awareness. A pile of words is first and foremost an expression of someone’s thoughts and feelings. The intention onto the other person(s) comes next, yet we so frequently want to start with the latter. And look where we are. I love the idea that the blurb is the sales pitch or the product description. I haven’t thought of it quite like that before. Of course it gives a window into the book but I never connected it to the review side of things. It makes perfect sense that a bad review would include whether or not the book was appropriately marketed, blurb included. This such a resource! I think we should publish it to Medium soon, because it might hit more eyes that way.

  • Melissa Ingoldsby4 months ago

    I found your refreshing perspective on reviews to be helpful. You have a mature view on it indeed I agree with you

  • sleepy drafts4 months ago

    I really enjoyed reading this perspective! Especially since I keep seeing "Reviews are for readers" circulating a lot in the "BookTube" community, it was refreshing to read a new take on this. 😄💗 I understand there have been a select few circumstances on social media that featured writers in review spaces going poorly, butttt I don't think that's the majority of writers. As you said, so long as you don't lose sleep over reviews, I think you're in the clear! Reviews seem like a great way to get a feel for who your audience is and what they like/dislike. Plus it feels like some of the most honest feedback you could hope for! I haven't published a book yet so I can't speak from experience. That's why it's especially nice to read from the perspective of someone who *has* gone through the process. 💗 Thank you for writing this piece!

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