Sunday, October 9, 2011

Baaaaaad Reviews: Teaching Perseverance

Many blogs and groups bemoan the presence of bad reviews. And they are terrible. I got a one star on Goodreads once and was devastated. However, we can learn from them (at least, some of them) and learn to rise above them. For example, one reviewer said I referred to the heroine’s pulsing Adam’s Apple, pointing out women don’t have Adam’s Apples. I checked this out. They do have Adam’s Apples, they just aren’t as prominent as men’s. And it was only mentioned twice in the whole book. But I do know not to use that comparison anymore. And I am learning to make the heroine as likeable as possible, based on what a few reviewers said, even though she may have a few flaws.
And for fun, I checked out the reviews for one of my favorite books, Nora Roberts’ “The Reef.” There were plenty of negative reviews. I thought how could there be? This book was excellent. Yet there they were. Almost thirty three, two and one star reviews—one person even called it the worst book they had ever read, another said it was disappointing and yet another said the story didn’t go anywhere! It just goes to show you everyone sees things differently, has a different opinion, just like taste buds, and there is nothing you can do about it, except move on and not let any of it get to you. And don’t take it personally, unless there are some despicable ad hominem attacks, which are uncalled for and can be removed from the review sites, upon request.
When we put a book out there, it’s in the public eye, whether we like it or not, kind of like running for office. And all of our good points and our bad are up for inspection. Most people tend to concentrate on the good things and offer constructive criticism, but some wish to only focus on the negative. They may be motivated by a variety of things. Maybe they’ve wanted to write a book and couldn’t or maybe they’ve just had a bad day. The important thing is to keep your “eyes on the prize” and don’t let anyone deter you from your goals. It’s amazing to read the biographies of famous actors who have been rejected hundreds of times but keep going or if they finally do get a part, they describe the dozens of bombs they’ve appeared on, either on stage or in the movies. The same is true of writers. Jack London collected 266 rejection slips. When HG Wells wrote “War of the Worlds,” some described it as “horrid.” The first “Chicken Soup” book was rejected 140 times until it finally found an independent publisher.
We can’t erase very bad review, no matter how much we want to. We can cry, yell, pound our fists, flail our arms, and swear like a sailor. But we should never, ever stop writing and doing what we love. If there is any valuable constructive criticism in the review, we can learn from it. I will never stop writing, no matter what. I love putting myself in the main character’s role too much. I love slugging it out with the bad guys and the good guys, putting my heroine in jungles and snake pits, and enjoy writing the sexy love scenes. So stay strong and persevere, no matter what anybody says!
What’s the worst review you’ve ever got? You don’t need to mention the book. And what is it that they hated the most? Or if that’s too painful, I understand. How about describing your reaction and what you did in response? Did you learn anything?
Next week: What is your Heart’s Desire?
Also: Book Giveaway of “The Montezuma Secret.”
Five Stars on Amazon and Goodreads


Vonnie Davis said...

Well said. So far my reviews have been excellent, but I know the bad ones are coming. When they hit, I hope I'm philosophical enough to handle them. I like your idea of checking out reviews of books you love. This does help us gain some perspective. Thanks!

Lilly Gayle said...

Great post. I don't have any bad reviews yet...I hardly have any reviews at all. lol! In Nora's case, I bet some of those negative reviews are from readers and/or writers wanting to take a famous author down a peg or two. Sadly, it happens. Then again, I've read some books by Nora I loved--The Reef being one of them. And one I couldn't even finish because all that head-hopping made me not care one way or the other about the characters.

Yes, reviews are subjective. Tastes are subjective. And even great writers can write not so great books.

Sandra Koehler said...

I agree. It's important to focus on what we love doing and not let anyone else deter us!


Mona Risk said...

Interesting post. I don't have bad reviews, only great ones, but I received my share of editors' rejections. I keep then neatly stacked in a folder called rejections. I look at them from time time. They taught me never to take anything for granted and to appreciate the fact that I have now seven published books that the readers like. I'm sure bad reviews are devastating to a new author if they come before the good ones.

Felicia Rogers said...

The reviews for my YA paranormal are consistently good, however a short story I wrote for a contest did receive a few negative words. The person commented that they couldn't believe they were so stupid as to finish this stupid book. It must have been written by a twelve year old.
Understandably this hurt. It took me a few days to realize that everyone likes different things. I do wish the individual would have offered more as to why she felt this way. Another person gave a low review because they said my story was short! :) A bad review because a novella was short?
But in the end, we move past the bad reviews and keep improving our writing. The bad reviews will come to us all warrented or not. I guess we just have to be thick skinned enough to take them.

Sandra Koehler said...

Thanks so much, Felicia, for helping us all put things in perspective!


Lynne Marshall said...

Well said, Sandra. I often cringe when I know people are reading my books, wondering when one of them might decide to slam me. That's no way to run a life though, so I push those thought right out of my head.

Fun and entertaining blog, as always.

Sandra Koehler said...

Thanks, Lynne, always enjoy hearing from my fellow WRP folks!