This post was prompted by a facebook post I read late last night. A young author received a bad review and he was absolutely devastated. I felt bad for him. My heart broke. But there was really nothing I could do other than offer support. Every author has to learn how to deal with bad reviews in his or her own way.
I’ve been lurking around the Internets long enough to have experienced all kinds of book reviews. For the most part, I’ve been thankful. But I’ve had a few bad reviews, too. One in particular was for AMERICAN STAR. It was ripped to shreds in a quasi satirical review that left my jaw hanging. Not because of the bad review or for the fact that there was a technical glitch beyond my control as an author that left a character’s name mispelled throughout the book. And not because the reviewer didn’t spell my name right (smile: you have to love Irony in this case). But because the book is a satire. This is clearly written in the blurb. And I didn’t understand the logic behind roasting a book about pop culture that is already a roast about pop culture. I’m almost tempted to add the link here just so anyone reading this can get a good laugh. (Ah, what the hell. Here it is.)
If you’re going to put yourself out there on the Internet, in any capacity, from business person to author, you’re setting yourself up for criticism of all kinds. And you’d better be ready to take it. Everyone has an opinion and almost everyone feels the need to share it in public. I’ve been sexually harassed by one very popular gay book reviewer to the point where I had to block him from all my social networks. I’ve even had my books slammed on amazon because reviewers didn’t like the prices, which are completely out my control. All I can say is it comes with the territory. And, most book reviewers are excellent, they truly love what they are doing, and they care about their readers. So there is a bright side as well.
When I read the young author’s facebook post about his bad review, I couldn’t help thinking about President Obama. These days it seems no matter what he does or says he’s getting slammed from all sides. How he takes all this criticism is anyone’s guess. And no matter how bad it is he still manages to get up every morning, face the day, and continue running the country with a big smile for his critics. It can’t be easy. And when you think about his criticism compared to a silly little book review, it just can’t compete.
So if you’re a new author and you receive a bad review. Take it in your stride. If you plan to continue writing, the odds are you’re going to get more bad reviews in the future. And they will always be written by someone who knows it all, knows how to manipulate an audience, and feels compelled to express his or her exhaulted opinion for the sake of literature around the world and throughout the universe. And when you think about how the President deals with criticism like this on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis, it’s comforting to know it could always be worse.