It had to happen. This is a subject I’ve been thinking about creating a post on for awhile but I’ve been avoiding it but recent communications with some authors I know have shown me that I need to just do it. There are a lot of articles and chapters in books on writing in regards to this. The fact is, it is a subject that ALL authors must face sooner or later so you might as well face it now.
First of all, for those of you who haven’t received a negative review yet and are concerned about getting them, I don’t blame you. No matter how much positive feedback you’ve gotten, it sucks royally to watch as someone rips your work apart (and some can be extremely vicious). I’ve opened my email many times to see a message from a reviewer and my heart rate jumps up as I open it, only to breathe a sigh of relief when the review is a positive one.
I also remember the first email I opened from a reviewer who hated my book. It was one of the most scathing emails I’ve ever received in my life. This reviewer was genuinely angry at me for writing what I wrote and didn’t have a single good thing to say about it. Then I got my first posted negative review. Yes, it sucked to read that. So again, I feel your pain. I understand the fear. I understand being hurt when that review finally comes (and it will).
Now, it’s time to clear your head. In my case, I have received a lot of good reviews. I had a blogger actually write that she wanted to buy the book for everyone because she loved it so much. I’ve had numerous positive reviews indicate opinions of the same aspects that the negative ones did, but only they were diametrically opposite. Funny enough, I received a “neutral” review from a blogger who liked the story but hated my writing style whereas a radio host specifically said that she felt my writing was so polished it was like reading a book from a major publisher.
So, why am I mentioning the parts of the marketing process that I would love to just forget? Because when I tell people to “suck it up cupcake”, I want it understood that I am not trying to be harsh or mean. Us authors are usually quite attached to our writing and it is easy to take it personally when someone doesn’t like it. Now granted, sometimes reviews end up being personal attacks on an author, which is ridiculous but it does happen. But, the reality is, people are entitled to review a book and they are entitled to their opinion. If your book sees anything even close to the distribution level you probably want, you WILL get some negative reviews. It’s inevitable. If you don’t want a negative review, don’t publish. It’s that simple.
If you don’t believe me, just go into Amazon and check out some of the top selling books out there. For instance, Twilight. Of the top 3 reviews, two of them are 1 star reviews (at least they were the last time I saw it). Actually, there are literally hundreds of negative reviews, some questioning the integrity of society for ascending the book to popularity. Yet, all four of these volumes have sold millions of copies throughout the world and have been translated into dozens of languages. Even Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, at the time of this writing, has 76 one star reviews. No one can please everyone.
Keeping all of the above in mind, when I see an author start throwing accusations against other authors out there for fowl play and the like, simply because they received mostly negative or no reviews and the other authors received mostly good reviews, I just have to shake my head. It’s kind of like that author who posted a multi-page response to a negative review on a blog, which subsequently went viral and caused a massive boycott of her writing. This is real life. No one cares if you’re insulted by a review. That’s not insensitive, it’s true. If I wrote a whining blog about the negative reviews I’ve gotten, people would probably boycott my writing too.
The fact is, if you’ve written a halfway decent book (it doesn’t even have to be super great), you’ll probably get some good reviews. And let’s be realistic. If you have beta readers and an editor and you actually take their advice, you’ll probably be fine. If you just jump in pig-headed and think your rough draft is worthy of print, you will probably be one of these people who gets slammed constantly. That’s not the fault of successful authors.