As an author, I feel the greatest joy we can have is reading the review of a person that has completely understood the message that we have tried to convey with our book. To see that the hard work that you put into your writing is appreciated is a feeling that is euphoric. While it is great to have that positive review the truth is, not everyone will get the points or view your book the same way. It is inevitable; we will all receive a negative review at some point.
I remember my first negative review. I was excited and happy that I produced a book that people were really enjoying. I saw lots of positive comments and reviews, and I felt like I was on top of the world. Then that nasty review came, the dreaded 1 star review on Goodreads. I felt as if I was punched in the chest. There was no comment, or statements, just the rating. I had so many questions. I wanted to know what they hated so much about the book, and was it so bad that it deserved 1 star? It took everything in me not to personally message the person (*NOTE: NEVER EVER MESSAGE A PERSON ABOUT A REVIEW!!! Take it on the chin). Everyone is entitled to their opinion. The truth is there are different strokes for different folks.
As time went on, my book continued to do well. I was pleased with the feedback I was getting, but then I received another review. This review wasn’t terrible, but the review expressed that they just weren’t feeling it. They hated my characters. They thought my story was boring. You name it, they hated it. When you receive a harsh review like that, you feel like the person is “Calling your baby ugly.” Every book I write is a reflection of me. My first novel is an even bigger reflection because it was based off my life and experiences.
How do you deal with the stress of handling a negative review? There is no direct answer to that. Like reviewers, who have different opinions, authors have different ways that we handle stress. For me, I do a variety of things. I vent to friends (God bless those who I am close to that have to put up with my venting. If you’re reading this, I really appreciate you guys. You have no idea!) Next, I push my pride aside and try to pull out of their review anything constructive that I can use to improve my writing style. In our minds, we might feel that we are the next Hemingway, but everyone can stand improvement and as an author I feel we should always strive to evolve. We can’t let our pride blind us. Next, I try to let it go. When it comes down to it, the review is there. It happened, and there is nothing we can do about it. It’s not going to change. While it hurts, and stings, dwelling on it will only drive us crazy. Lastly, I continue to write. While a big part of me writes for the enjoyment of entertaining people, the most important reason and the basis for my writing is that I write for ME! I write because it makes me happy. It’s my stress relief and to allow someone to discourage me from doing something I love to do is to admit defeat. I’m not a quitter and I hope that any writer, author, or aspiring author who is reading this blog feels the same way about themselves.
People will look at your book in different ways. Some people will see it how you intended it to be seen, some will not. For some your book will mean the world to them, for others it will be perfect for leveling a table or stopping a door. While we have no control over how people will receive our books, we do have control over how we handle negative reviews. Remember this anagram K.I.M –G.O.I (Keep it moving – Get over it) Ben Burgess Jr.