When you wrote your book, did you ever believe you would get it published? If so, did you wonder how the public would react? More importantly, did you consider how you would deal with being judged?
When I needed a change of direction, I could have taken my skill-set to another organisation and continued my career. I would certainly have been paid more – but I wanted to write.
Life is about challenges and from challenges spring accomplishments. To be a published author is amazing. For people to enjoy my work is incredible. Seeing four and five star reviews pop up is one of the greatest feelings in the world.
But what about the ones that aren’t so great? How do you rationalise those?
The grotty reviews could be outnumbered twenty to one yet still it’s that one we remember, no matter how many times we do as is often recommended and re-read the flattering ones. There are many suggestions regarding coping mechanisms with detachment being the most pragmatic, albeit the most difficult to achieve. I’ve also seen some hilarious one star reviews – not on my page – yet!
My current favourite: ‘I’m giving this the lowest star-rating possible to teach the author a lesson.’
I also read a wonderful article in which the writer (tongue-in-cheek) suggested if all else fails, tell the reviewer you know where they live and threaten physical violence unless they amend their comments. An interesting idea but I suspect most of us content ourselves with privately calling the Ones-and-Twosies (OATs) a few choice names.
There isn’t a published author on the planet who hasn’t received an iffy review.
As touched on in my preview blog, OATs falls into two categories: ‘teachers’ who offer constructive criticism which can be useful if it’s delivered tactfully and ‘trolls’ who are venomous with nothing positive to offer by way of critique: ‘It’s horrid! Yuk.’ One featured nothing other than a row of exclamation marks which the author had actually counted (42).
Eventually every author will develop their own troll-coping and closure strategies. Hopefully this won’t include volcanically erupting all over social media. If you must, a polite reply will suffice.
This is my take on it:
Would-be OAT – It isn’t the author’s fault that you have chosen to read a book you haven’t enjoyed. What do you hope to achieve by leaving a bitter rant on their review page? Put it in perspective: it wasn’t a world cruise for which you forked out thousands and hated – do you really need to be outraged about something that cost you no more than a couple of lamb cutlets? Read the back-cover blurb next time so you have an idea of what to expect – if it’s billed as a ‘thriller’ it’s not going to be a cosy story about a suburban housewife growing roses.
Authors – I’m not a fan of a certain series of fantasy novels which has gripped the nation, in spite of trying time and again to discover what I’m missing. And I believe that’s the key. There is nothing wrong with the writing style or content, only my subjective reaction to it – in short, it’s my problem. So if an OAT feels the need to turn savage, remember it’s they who have hang-ups, not you or your fans and very few would make such comments without the luxury of anonymity.
Don’t allow yourself to be put off by detractors. As the late best-selling author Ray Bradbury put it: ‘You only fail if you stop writing.’
We write because we have a passion for it. We explore our imagination to the limit of its ability. We meet all sorts of characters just waiting to have life breathed into them so that they can fulfil their potential and we happily scribe for them as their adventures unfold. Reviews from OATs are a small price to pay for doing something we love and on the bright side, at least they’ve read our work – if only once.
In spite of the OATs or maybe because of them, keep on writing!
Next blog – Trying to Behave Like an Author at a Book-Signing