Reviews: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Perils of Reading Reviews of Your Novel

The day The Mermaid's Sister went live on Amazon was one of the weirdest days of my life. A mixture of excitement, fulfillment, and terror consumed me as the reviews began to appear. First, the five stars (yay!) Then some fours and a few threes (okay, everyone is entitled to his/her own taste and opinion)...and eventually, the dreaded one star. (If I remember properly, the reason the reviewer gave was that he didn't like Young Adult novels. Still shaking my head over that one.) I admit I kept reading reviews for a while--maybe a week or two--before I realized it was messing with my head. How could I have written someone's new favorite book that also was the most cliché piece of trash ever? How could a simple story draw such personal, hateful attacks from some and inspire others to joy?

You just can't wrap your mind around that. And you shouldn't try.

To quote a grammatically revolting cliché (because apparently I rock at clichés!), "Haters gonna hate, lovers gonna love." And if you did your best (and had fabulous editors--God bless 'em!), it doesn't matter.
Writers bleed ink!
Okay. it does matter somewhat. Reviews sell books--but even bad reviews sometimes get people interested enough to read your book. Anyway, what I'm saying is, everyone gets bad reviews. Go check some of your favorite authors' Amazon pages, and you'll see it's true.

So, what to do?

You can either go cold turkey and quit reading all reviews, or you can get yourself a "stalker." My husband is mine. He reads me the very special reviews, and the ones so bad that they're actually kind of funny--and he doesn't mention the rest, thereby providing the right amount of encouragement and a few laughs. Maybe I'll post some examples here on the blog in the future. :)

One last suggestion: If you're asked to review others' work, it's sometimes best to just say no. Personally, I don't want to be the one to crush someone's dreams when they maybe just need more practice, to join a critique group, or to hire an editor--especially if the writer is a friend.

Putting your writing out there is a scary, daunting thing. I hope you'll be brave enough to do it, and to keep doing it, no matter how many "stars" you get.

P.S. Here's a great video on the topic of handling critics:
Thanks to author Jeff Wheeler for pointing me to it!

Ink bottle image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy.


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