Friday, December 12, 2014

Dealing with a Bad Review

Earlier this week, my book manager (hi, Pam!) hesitated sending me a link to a review. Understandably, she didn’t want to ruin my day. The review isn’t exactly flattering. The reviewer didn’t love Undead Obsessed.

But, honestly, those things don’t bother me. I told her to send it along, and I happily read it. I actually chuckled a little afterward. The reviewer didn’t like the book, but I think it’s because he wanted it to be something it wasn’t. The way I read it, he wanted it to be more scholarly. And it’s not. At one point, I had attempted to make it much more academic, but it didn’t feel right. So, I changed it. And I was much happier with it after that.

Anyway, my point is that as an author, there will always be people who don’t like my books. I’m going to get bad reviews; it’s the nature of the beast. How I react to those reviews is up to me. Personally, I don’t let them bother me. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Love it or hate it, at least they read the book (or at least part of it).

At this point, I’ve received some real doozies in my writing career. Some were incredibly confusing (and by that I mean I couldn’t figure out exactly what the reviewer's issue was with the book), and some just didn’t like my work. And the vast majority of the books I’ve written have gotten at least one—from my kids’ books to my YA to my adult. I won’t lie, a bad review can sting a little at first, but then I move on. There’s absolutely no sense dwelling on the negative.

So, what are some things I do when faced with a negative review? First and foremost, I read it. I try to tease out exactly what they are saying and what their rejections are to the work, and then, if said review is posted  on their blog, I thank them for reviewing my book. Even if they didn’t like it, they still took the time to look at it, and as someone who doesn’t have a lot of time, I know how difficult it can be, so I thank them for that.

I never engage them or argue with them or tell them that they missed the point completely. Again, they are entitled to their opinion. I may comment on what I think they meant (like I did at the beginning of the post), but the truth is, I don’t really know what’s going on in their head.

I don’t get upset. There’s absolutely no point. The only person that hurts is me, and life is way too short to dwell on the negative and be mad at someone for having an opinion. I become even more thankful for the good reviews and focus my energy on them.

I remind myself that I’m not alone. Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Christopher Pike, Piers Anthony—every author that has been brave enough to put their work into the world has received a bad review. At least we are all in good company.

Here’s the thing: whether a review is good or bad, it’s not going to stop me from doing what I do. I’m going to continue to write. Yeah, good reviews are awesome because they reinforce that what I’m doing is right and make it worth it, but bad reviews won’t break me. They don’t decide if I continue to write. Only I get to decide to do that. I refuse to give anyone else that much power over me.

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