♦Welcome to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop!♦
Do you read your book reviews? How do
you deal with bad or good ones?
Welcome back to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop! The authors included in this ongoing series wish to thank you for your reads. We appreciate, even more so, when you share our writings with your friends. If you’re new to the series, welcome aboard. The authors engage and impress weekly. Prepare to become a regular reader.
Don’t go there—until you are prepared. Whether a review is positive or negative, you have to be prepared to make use of it for business purposes. One thing that authors often forget is that they are a business (your books being the product). We see ourselves as artists, but even artists are businesses. It’s fact.
How do you prepare yourself to make the best use of a review? If the review is positive, you’ll likely want to quote it—that may be on an ad, another book, emails, digital art, and other marketing means. You won’t take the entire piece, because reviewers often put more into their effort than just a line or two. This is great for the person shopping your book, but not so great for your ad or promotion. Those need to be to the point. [I’ve taken the time to find a resource for you on quoting and style. If it’s been a while since college or high school, or you are learning this on your own, reminding yourself or learning how to properly quote is imperative. You’ll use it frequently. Other resources include clicking on my book links and browsing the promotionals I’ve created for my books.]
What if a review is negative? Not every review you get will be glowing, and some will be lukewarm, too. That’s perfectly okay. People’s tastes and opinions differ. Sometimes a troll has just stormed through your stuff looking to stir up a little mayhem. If that’s the case, don’t go there. Leave it alone. It’s really important that you just walk away. Your brand is more important than getting a clapback.
Authors view their work as extensions of themselves, if not their children. When someone says something negative about those works, we can get upset by it. We may feel insulted, not understood, annoyed, and even “tired of hearing it.” Before you let your emotions take you down a road you can’t untravel, set the negative review aside and ask yourself if you’re ready to find anything in it that may be of value to your professional development.
Character assassinations and trolls aside, we have to take the good with the bad. A fair but negative review holds the key to future glory. I’m not talking about the review that shows a reader misunderstood you, exposed their lack of knowledge on the subject, or a differing opinion about something. I mean the review that tells you where you have some work to do. These are great resources that you should be utilizing to hone your craft. Do your best to not take it personally. Of course it’s disappointing to hear that your less than perfect, but no one is perfect. It’s time to let that expectation in yourself go.
A review may also address social blind spots, such as your writing containing something racist and/or sexist. Perhaps you wrote a character along the lines of a stereotype and someone wants to point that out. That’s okay. Maybe you meant to do so, and maybe you didn’t. We all make mistakes, but this is an opportunity to have discussion around such topics, and your work could be used to engage that discussion. There are ways to turn things around. But, if you’re angry and firing back at others, you’re going to lose that opportunity. This is super important when taking criticism from a member of a group negatively affected by stereotyping. Don’t erase them. Let them speak. You will learn a lot!
When I first published, I had many kind reviews of Blue Honor, and then some not so great reviews. There were those who attacked me personally, as well. Those I ignored, because I can’t make use of assessments of my self-worth. However, I can use feedback that says I’m too wordy and the narrative slogged on a bit. Thankfully, Blue was able to raise enough funds to get me onto my second book. It was at that time that I found a great editor and worked with her to revise both works, and learn better crafting. That review and my editor helped me turn Blue Honor into a work of which I am proud.
Listen, you can’t let negative reviews stop you from writing. Rejection is hard and it will do a number on your will to write, but it is part of the business. The best thing to do is to use what you can. Maybe you’re not ready to hear everything that someone is telling you, because you feel pretty defeated by it. Give yourself time. Come back to it with a plan to make a plan. You do that by separating yourself from the work, and viewing it as a product that needs some improvements. Above all else, be grateful for reviews. That means someone read your work and cared enough to reach out about it. You may or may not have reached them in the way intended, but you reached them. That is the intent of writing, after all.
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Stevie Turner says
Yes, sometimes there is something constructive to find in a bad review. We can learn from it.
Captain Maiel says
And it can be hard to get to that nugget, too.
Richard Dee says
Great post. You have to accept that all reviews are subjective and find a way to use them all to benefit your writing.
Captain Maiel says
So important to realize. It’s very easy to let ourselves wallow in emotions, especially when frustrated.
Amy Miller says
Captain Maiel says
P.J. MacLayne says
“The best thing to do is to use what you can. Maybe you’re not ready to hear everything that someone is telling you, because you feel pretty defeated by it. Give yourself time”
We have to learn to forgive ourselves. We aren’t perfect, no matter how much we’d like to think otherwise. But we can always get better as long as we don’t give up.
Captain Maiel says
Yes. Forgiveness is very important. This is a hard job, when you think about the criticism we take from the public. It can be absolutely brutal. Bullying among adults (from young adults/teens toward authors, too) is dismissed far too easily.