I'm probably my own worst critic. No, wait I take that back. My family is definitely far more brutal than I am. If I want an honest opinion, all I have to do is ask one of them and sure enough, good or bad, they're happy to share. Now one might think that because of the constructive criticism I've received over the years, I'd have a bit of a complex, but not the case. Thankfully, the opposite happened and over the years I began to take better photographs, plant more beautiful gardens and bake desserts over and over until I created something everyone swore was the best they'd ever had.
So when it came to seeking the first opinions on my writing, I went to my toughest critics. At first they weren't kind. In fact, they were so honest I actually considered giving up. Whew—so glad I didn't because I love to write and I love my books. Now, I know I'm bound to have plenty of bad reviews over the course of my writing career. I know there will be editing errors that manage to slip past the most rigorous editing sessions, and some readers will wonder what on earth I was thinking. That's all right, because at the end of the day I know my next book will be even better and that's worth every bad review I may receive. Of course that doesn't stop me from loving all the good reviews.
In this author's opinion, a bad review shouldn't bother you because...
- There's a 98% chance that it's a completely honest review (2% on the off chance an old flame is just getting revenge).
- It's one reader's opinion, and not the opinion of the masses. You can't please everyone. What one reader loves another may not.
- Next time you'll write something better. Reviews shouldn't stop you from being you; from writing the way you write and letting your voice come through, but reviews can help a writer to look at themselves objectively and evaluate their work from another perspective.
- Anyone can swoon over a novel, but not everyone is honest about it. Want to sell more books? Appreciate the honest readers.
- You should already be celebrating! You wrote a book and people are reading it. That's an amazing thing.
As writers, we're at the mercy of our readers and these amazing human beings who pick up our books, take time out of their lives to read the books, and then take more time review the books —these readers are our friends. Good or bad, they're out there on our behalf because let's face it, we're not sweating for hours at the keyboard just to give our fingers a workout. Enjoy the good reviews, learn from the bad reviews, and keep on writing. It's your voice the reader wants to hear and no one writes it better than you.
Have you had a horrible review that got you down? Did you find a way to turn it around and make it work for you?
Oh and yes, I'm a C&H fan.
Previously posted in February 2012.