The Perils of Reading Reviews of Your NovelThe 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!|
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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-JXOnFOXQk
Thanks to author Jeff Wheeler for pointing me to it!
Ink bottle image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy.