Everyone at some point weighs in on bad reviews. There are so many opinions about reviews I can’t even go into all of them.They range from “I can say anything I want because I bought the book” to “I can defend my book because I’m the one who wrote it”. Some people believe an author should never contact a reviewer in any way shape or form while others feel that a review is a good way to discuss good and bad points in a book with a reader.
Personally, I do try to thank people for taking the time to review my books, even if it’s a negative review. They paid for the book…hopefully… and read it. I can at least say thank you for their time, even if the book wasn’t to their liking.
Because well, not every book is going to please everyone.
I’d be a fool to think otherwise.
But what does a review actually do for an author?
Sometimes, they hurt.
Now that’s not something to be ashamed of saying. They do hurt at times. Sometimes it’s like choking down fiberglass and then following it with a glass of water from the Dead Sea. I’m not going to lie and tell you that I’m untouched by someone saying one of my books was a DNF or if they pan it to the point of wondering why someone hasn’t cut off my fingers so I never write another thing again.
The human creature usually fixates on the negative. Or at least I can probably say the writer brain does. There may be ten positive reviews but the one scathing one stings. It worms its way in and sticks there like a tapeworm.
For some writers, it’s hard to find the fortitude to ignore it or kill it. Some people feed it more negative thoughts until it grows and bursts inside of them, poisoning the entire body.
And see, there are also some people who review things with that end in mind.
I’ve run across those people. They read a book then delight in tearing it apart, stating pet peeves or trope dislikes as if the writer purposely wrote the book solely to offend them. Those are the reviews that should not be fed. You can usually recognize them. They’re usually long and sometimes rant or they get personal. I’d caution anyone from engaging those reviewers. There’s no good that comes from any of it.
Because ultimately, the whole point of discussion is that something good comes of it.
Even if a review is bad, I try to be gracious. Sometimes I wonder if the person read what I’ve written or if they understood what I was trying to communicate. Expressing that will get a fire hose of “well if that’s what you meant, you should have written that” thrown back at you. Not worth losing your skin over but it still hurts.
Because let’s face it, the reader isn’t just buying a book, they are buying months of a person sitting down and writing something down. That person might take things very much to heart, regardless of the fact that they are a writer and put their book out there. They’re still a person with flaws, hopes and doubts. Does that mean this writer should attack people who didn’t like their book? No, not at all.
Do I hope that writer deals well with the pain of that rejection? Yes.
When we write and that piece is published, we’re asking everyone to the prom. That’s pretty much what it is. We’re asking a roomful of people to dance with us. Some people are going to say no. Others are going to say yes. And of the ones that say yes, there are going to be a select few that will knee us in the metaphorical balls out in the middle of the dance floor then run back to their friends and laugh.
That is when the writer needs to breathe, take control of themselves and get back up. Continue dancing. Continue taking the risk. Keep going to different dances. Try out new things. Wear new clothes. Explore the possibilities.
Oh, and maybe wear a codpiece. And no, not one with spikes… just a codpiece. For those kicks to the balls. Because nothing will lessen the intent of the blow but you can lessen the impact.
Just don’t drink the punch. It’s probably not spiked and God knows, sometimes you need the booze to make it through the prom.