♦Welcome to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop!♦
How do you deal with negative feedback? Do you
have tips for critiquing other writers’ work?
Welcome back to another Open Book Blog Hop! The authors included in this ongoing series wish to thank you for your reads. Even more so, we appreciate that you share our writings with friends. If you’re new to the series, welcome aboard. The authors engage and impress weekly. Prepare to become a regular reader.
Negative feedback gets a bad rap, but that isn’t entirely unwarranted. We all know that well intentioned communication can go sideways very quickly. Not everyone is good at delivering bad news. Some enjoy delivering bad news, often saying they’re just blunt and to not take it personal. What a manipulation that is!
That said, a writer should expect more negative feedback on their work than positive. That is how this all works. Why does it work like that? Because the publishing industry is about selling a product to the public. When you are in that line of work, you have to be able to take the feedback. If you won’t listen to the customer or the liaison of the customer, you’re not going to thrive.
Once again, however, I want to remind you that you shouldn’t always listen, either. Are you confused yet? There are a few types of negative review. There are legitimate critiques that help you grow, which usually cite the mistakes you make. These are not personal but stick to the problems of the writing. While you might want to take that personally, it isn’t personal. We writers are close to our works and it is hard to separate our feelings from them. If you plan on getting better, doing well, and having a career, you will need to be able to view your work apart from personal.
Another kind of negative review is the troll review. This is done by people with nothing better to do. It may also be done by those targeting you or authors in your genre/topic. These you can absolutely ignore. While it is anxiety inducing to have a 1 star review that is obnoxious and cuts personal, you need to ignore it entirely as if it isn’t there. Even when this review lowers your marketability on a site and contributes to obscuring your work, the worst thing you can do is respond. Not only do you give the troll what they want, but you’re showing the public your whole backside! You’re gonna have to take that on the chin. Trolls ruin everything and readers know about them. Don’t engage and give readers a reason to believe them!
I’ve encountered the nitpicker feedback, which falls outside of the realm of trolling. This isn’t targeted although it is honestly mean spirited at heart. When you don’t like something, as they say, keep scrolling. Yet, there are those cannot help but voice their opinions. I am not sure if they’re seeking community around the dislike they have, or why they would waste their energy, but they feel quite compelled to leave a review. These often carry 2 or 3 stars and effectively lower your reach, as well. Some trolls do pose as this group. Again, do not engage.
Lastly, there’s the mixed review. These are close to the first type. They carry a lot of good praise, but they will also point out where you failed for them. You can’t please everyone. Take what serves you from these reviews. You could still quote them, just leave the star rating off (because less than 5 is not worth bragging about). Mixed reviews are a great tool for improving your work but, as I said before, not every word serves you. You’ll need to be able to discern what is helpful from what is just a difference of opinion.
When discerning what is a difference of opinion, consider the source. Average readers do know a lot about the stuff that they read and their opinions are valid. This doesn’t mean that you need to change the way you write, what you wrote, or how you wrote it to please them. I bet if you had a conversation around the feed back that you’d find the dislike is subjective.
Have you ever watched a Television show and really hated the way a writer did something, but you although you would have done it differently, it worked just fine for their work? Maybe you disagreed with how something played out, making you shout at the screen? That’s what is happening in many mixed reviews. You still made them feel something and that means you did your job and did it well.
Engaging with reviews should be done carefully. Don’t ever try to contact someone because they failed to give you a glowing 5-star review. That kind of behavior isn’t acceptable. You’ll need to be okay with negative feedback and harvesting what you can from the information in those reviews. It’s all part of the business. Not everyone is going to love your characters or how you played out the story exactly as you played it out. Most won’t bother to write about it. Those who do are doing so for other readers. Keep this in mind: that might be what hooks a reader. While the reviewer didn’t care for that, someone else might feel that is a great idea!
Perspective is everything! Take what you can work with and leave the rest. Sometimes, you’ll find, that with time a harsh review was spot on and helped you rise to another level. Growth is part of every journey. So, don’t expect to be a Pulitzer Prize writer from the gate. That’s a fantastic goal to have, but it takes growth from a disciplined journey. Roses are earned.
Let’s hop on over to see what the other authors have to say on the topic!