Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Getting a bad review

Writing (like acting) is one of those professions where you put yourself out there. Sometimes people will like you and sometimes people won't. I want to take the time today to address those times when someone hates your writing.

Does it hurt? You better believe it. But in most cases, it is probably just a small sting and if you really listen to the critique, you might find the rationale behind the critique. But here is the issue I really want to address.

When you get a bad critique, don't just go running to your friends and get sympathy. Sure, get a few pats on the back but draw the line. I have seen on blogs and listened to writers at conventions whining and moaning about all of the unfair treatment they got on their last book. What is interesting is that the writer is always complaining. Time and time again they get a review that is less than satisfying and off they go on their new round of poor me.

Look get over it. Learn from it and make some changes in your writing.

And as for the good friends out there, get that writer moving and slap some sense into them. I don't care how good of a friend they are, the reviewer might have just been right!


  1. Amrn to that one. Never miss the chance to find out what kind of impact your writing has on even one reader. As for the comments clearly motivated by pure envy and personal attacks, I think of them as people who are still too afraid to put themselves on the line in public. Less backbiting, more work. How does drowning in jealousy help anyone write more effectively? Have a great Pity Party and move on. Yo.

  2. My feeling is that unless there are several reviews that say the same thing, there isn't much for an author "to learn." We all know what we like in books (and authors) is subjective.

    While I agree that an author should be able to pull back enough from a bad review to see if there is anything there that they should pay attention to...every bad review does not mean the reviewer is "right."

    I have seen books I loved trashed by a reviewer in one place, and given high acclaim in another. I've seen books I haven't liked so well given great reviews. It's all subjective.

    I don't put a lot of stock in reviews for a book I haven't read unless I've seen the same comments (whether good or bad) repeated in several places by several different reviewers.

    To that extent, a review has never made me buy a book, and a review has certainly never made me NOT buy a book.

  3. Yes indeed, anon number two. I so agree. I would rather see a short description of a book instead of the very subjective reviews that are everywhere now. Every writer writes the best book that he can at the time. A particular reader finds it engaging or not. If we must, why not go to the much more effective system used on Amazon books. One from a reader who liked the thing, and one who found it less engaging.
    And why would anyone waste time and energy "hating" a book? It's only a book, not neurosurgery. I stopped reading many of the literary blogs and sites because of the vicious and continual attacks on writers and their work. Calling people "stupid," claiming that their book "is pure s--t," how does this help anyone write more effectively? I think it is all very sad.
    Meanwhile, I notice a demand for something called a "neo Victorian. " Can anyone tell me what this might be, and how it differs from a novel set in the Victorian age?