Monday, September 19, 2011
A Review by Any Other Name...
Book reviews. We've all read them. Most of us have written one at some point or another, but what we aren't taught as authors is how to handle them. You write a story. You love it into existence, and then you beat it into sparkly-clean and concise submission. You follow whatever route best fits your goals for the book, be it agent, publisher, indie, or self-pub, till finally release day comes!
Reviews and ratings begin to trickle in. And as any author can vouch, this will create freaking havoc in your life. Good reviews cause pressure and stress to live up to expectations on an unrealistic level or force you to create simply to please your reader. Bad reviews make you want to curl up in a moldy cellar and give into the I-suck-so-muchness. Neither of these things are ideal, yet we all experience them all the time!
But in the words of the brilliant Ray Bradbury, “You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.”
Writers shouldn't write because they want to please someone. If you do that, you'll never be a success in your eyes or anyone else's, because you can't make everyone happy. It's just not possible. If it's in your heart to be a writer, to create characters and mold worlds out of bits of imagination, then don't let anyone rain on your parade ... OR be your pink prancing poodles! And by that I mean, the awesomeness behind you that you've now come to rely on for affirmation.
"But what happens when I get a bad review? How do I deal with that?" you may ask.
In short, my answer is this: quietly. I know, I know. That's not fair. Trust me when I say the first time I received a rating that didn't exactly light the galaxy with wonder, I wanted to email the person (who hadn't even left a review!) and ask them what I'd done to not even elicit a response from them. I mean, it took me longer to grow the story than it did my child. They couldn't even show enough courtesy and respect to let me know why?
But you can't do that. 1) It simply isn't allowed. Goodreads would kick you off if you responded to a negative review. 2)You're bigger than that, right? Commenting on a negative review/rating just tells the reviewer you need their affirmation. But why? You're writing for you, remember? 3) It won't change the reviewer's opinion, so why draw attention to the situation. Likely, you'll start a peeing contest that results in everyone walking away wet, smelly, and non-victorious.
And this, my dear writer friends, is the hardest thing you'll deal with. Trying to understand and accept the fact that not everyone is going to dig your work. But you can't understand it, because we'll never really understand people in general. Opinions are impossible to predict and everyone has them. The best we can hope for, and offer ourselves, is respect. We need to respect the the time and energy put into a project and accept that as long as we are enough in ourselves, that's enough!
Be confident in your work and write from your heart!