Sooner or later every author will receive a negative review.
There’s a saying out there that no matter what you do, 10% of people will disagree with it.
I wonder if they’re just ornery or something.
In hindsight, I’m really really grateful that the first review I ever received was a total pan!
It was devastating at the time, and boy did I hate the smug way people at some of the writers organizations came up to me to ‘condole’.
But it taught me so very very much!
And that is that everyone does have an opinion. And as an author you have to open yourself up to be criticized.
Toughen up your skin! Make it nice and thick!
But at the same time, listen to the criticism.
Nobody likes to be criticized, but it’s very important. How else can you ever get better?
I like what one of my editors once said about reviews. She said sometimes you get a negative review and you think objectively, “Okay, yeah. They’ve got a point. Should have seen that.” And you chalk it up to the learning curve. And sometimes you get a negative review and the person just completely missed the mark.
You can’t take it personally. You really can’t.
They don’t know you.
They don’t know your intentions in writing the book.
All they’re doing is reacting to what you’ve presented based on…AND THIS IS SO IMPORTANT I’LL CAPITALIZE IT…THEIR OWN LIFE EXPERIENCES!
Reading is such a collaborative experience. It’s not just based on the words you wrote. It’s based on people’s reaction.
And once the book is published and done, you, as the author, have no more control.
So get used to letting go.
Letting it go out into the world and people reading it will bring their own experiences of what they think the book should have been.
I’m writing this post because I just happened to look up amazon, and I saw that there was a new customer review of one of my books and it was a one-star (out of five) review. And of course I was curious! The person took one of my most successful books, The Roses in My Carpets, and said it wasn’t a children’s book!
I suppose she couldn’t imagine children relating to it. She thought it was too intense.
And yet, that’s the book that I do the most. From grade three (eight year olds) to adults, kids really really love that book!
It’s not a depressing book. Not to me at all.
But it is an intense book, and maybe that’s what she was reacting to. Maybe the kids she knew or the kid she was would have found such a book appalling.
At first I wanted to comment on it, and then I thought better of it. Because actually she does represent a certain demographic of people who do think the book is too ‘graphic’ for children. I guess these are the die hard old school types who idealize childhood in some way. Who knows? Who cares? What it really comes down to is the lady is entitled to her opinion.
I’ve witnessed authors respond to negative reviews and it’s always a mistake.
There’s too much emotion involved.
So instead I shrugged it off.
And the more experience I get the more I know it’s true that no review is a bad review. Even the people who take the time to pan a book are better than ignoring it totally.
Which sounds weird but it’s true. Because the worst thing that can happen is for people to ignore your work.
It’s been a heck of a year!
Feel like I’ve grown a lot, even though it might not seem apparent in some ways.
I wish I could say that I have sold a new book.
I’ve been kind of superstitious that way. In the last fifteen years of being published I’ve never been in the state of not having a book coming out. Come January, after King for a Day gets released, I will indeed be in that position and it’s quite scary.
But I’m working on a bunch of stuff and hopefully something good will come out of it.
Been thinking and thinking and wondering and wondering, and that’s always a good thing.
Hope everyone has a wonderful year ahead.
2013…it was tough!
Can’t believe it’s almost over.
Happy New Year!