On author sites, I see a lot of people saying not to respond to bad reviews (which I think is good advice), and in amongst it, occasional advice not to read reviews.
If you're the sort to be easily discouraged or put off by a negative review, I suppose it makes sense. No matter how thick skinned you are, a bad review can make you wonder what you're doing as an author, whether you're in the right job, or whether you should just scrap that sequel you're working on and go watch paint dry instead. So I can totally understand why someone would choose not to read their reviews.
However, it's not something I can do. I check Amazon and GoodReads daily, and I read every new review. I love reading reviews, since in many cases, it's the only contact with my readers I get. (Maybe one day I'll start getting fan mail, but not yet.) Sure, there are some that have made me take a few deep breaths and take a break from reading, but I keep coming back for more.
Because for every bad review, there are two, or three, or even four good reviews. And while I could do without the bad, it's the good ones that make me pick up that novel again, and get enthused about my writing. Every time someone says, “I can't wait for the sequel,” it reminds me that I'd better get working on it! Ever time someone says, “I couldn't put it down,” it makes me smile.
Sometimes, you have to take the bad to get the good.
I guess I might think differently if I was seeing mostly bad reviews, or even an equal mix. However, I'm not the type to bury my head in the sand. If I was getting mostly bad reviews, I'd want to know so I could do something about it, rather than continue writing in ignorance. Critique is always hard to accept, but sometimes it's necessary to grow as a person, and as a writer.
How about you? Do you read your reviews? And readers, do you think authors should be reading what you write, or are you writing only for fellow readers?