OK, so that’s a bit misleading. No one could LOVE their bad reviews. But we can learn to love how they encourage us to grow.
So far, I feel incredibly lucky that Composite Creatures, Little Quakes Every Day, ad Bone Ovation have been well-received. It’s one of the most wonderful feelings in the world, to read a new glowing review from a stranger. It’s like you’ve created magic in someone’s head.
But like everyone, it’s never always good.
And so, here follows the several ways I justify my own ‘less than dazzling’ reviews! Enjoy…
The more reviews we receive, the better we should be at handling it. Aside from authoring books, I also write content for a university, and my work is critiqued and reviewed every single day. It’s taught me that – when it comes to words – everyone has an opinion on everything, and it’s often hugely conflicting. A single reviewer will even contradict themselves sometimes! We’re human, that’s what we do – we’re discovering how we think and feel about things all the time.
Being reviewed every day has really made me see that all this feedback should be seen in one particular way…
Review of the writing, not the writer
Put bluntly, a professional can’t take these things personally. If we did, we’d end up with all the drive of a sad little puddle. A book review is a review of that singular book, not of you as a writer. Perhaps there are exceptions to this, but it almost doesn’t matter. A book is a snapshot of an author at one specific point in their lives. If it had been written years before or years later, the style and story would be very different. See bad reviews as reviews of the thing you have crafted – not reviews of your ability. Your ability is changing every day as you learn and improve.
Learn and grow
There are definitely ways to learn from these reviews, particularly if Many reviews repeat the same points. Whether it’s dialogue issues, pacing problems, or a limited vocabulary – pick up on the themes that stand out and perhaps see those as points to improve on (I know I do!)
Become a psychologist
How people digest your story is fascinating. Objectively speaking, it proves that there really is a huge a range of brains out there. People think in such different ways. It’s the same with art. One painting will be seen by so many eyes, and whereas one set will appreciate the photo-realistic splendour, another will shrug at the lack of imaginative flourishes.
And if this is true – how could it ever be possible to write a book that’d please everyone?
…And then, sometimes readers are just not right for your book
Just as not every book can please everyone, not every reader is right for your book. Even my husband and I, who think in the same way about most things and are interested in the same genres and fictional worlds, have completely different tastes when it comes to books we enjoy. I love character-based philosophical tomes. Many of my favourite books involve characters that aren’t going anywhere, and there isn’t much plot to be seen at all. They’re worlds stood still. But these books drive my husband mad. He just doesn’t get the appeal at all. He’s excited by twists, speedy plots, intrigue, and drama. I’d choose the chapter where the characters are marooned, and he’d choose the car chase. He’d happily award some of my favourite books 1 out of 5 and vice versa. And that’s fine!
You can’t write a story for everyone. It’s best to accept this early on. It’s always going to feel ‘urgh’ when you see a bad review, but just remember – that reader probably wouldn’t like anything written in that style. And you weren’t writing for them anyway, so don’t beat yourself up about it. Enjoy the small glories, and keep learning.