There are two kinds of writers: those who read their reviews, and those who lie about not reading their reviews. I fall firmly into the former camp. I've never tried to pretend I'm blasé about reviews, because I'm not. I set up Google alerts with the titles of my books so that I know when new ones appear, and I have to remind myself to breathe while reading them. When The Damage Done was published in September 2010, I checked Amazon and GoodReads on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis, looking for reader feedback; I've calmed down on that front, but it's a rare week if I don't surf by those sites at least once.
What I don't do is obsess about bad reviews. I've had some — in major publications, to boot — and they're never easy to read. The first negative review I received made me want to bury my head in the sand, ostrich-style, and my book along with it. How could I live with the shame? But, after a while, I realized the sky didn't come crashing down. Most people didn't even seem to notice the lousy review — or if they did, they flat-out didn't care.
On my website, I quote from good reviews, so it seems only fair that I mention a couple of the worst here:
"The Damage Done isn’t a bad book: it has its moments. But it is something of a disappointment." — Quill & Quire
"Davidson’s first mystery follows 18 nonfiction books. The story is zealously overplotted." — Kirkus Reviews on The Damage Done
When it comes to reviews, I've learned to let go. Not everyone is going to like my books; in fact, some people will hate them with a fervor normally directed at deadly diseases. That won't stop others from enjoying them (or stop a book from earning awards). I like to remind myself of one Hollywood executive's early assessment of Fred Astaire's screen test: "Can't sing. Can't act. Can dance a little."