You’ve poured your heart and soul into a book. Countless hours writing, editing, revising, and proofreading. Then you release it into the world with fingers crossed and hope for the best. Most writers have found themselves in this situation, and sooner or later it happens: a negative review or rejection.
If you send to an Agent or Publisher
A legitimate agent or publisher isn’t going to get personal, but rejections hurt. Stephen King (from his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft– great read BTW) talks about putting his rejections on a large nail on the wall. He filled the entire nail and needed something bigger. So he got a railroad spike and promptly filled that with rejections.
Stephen King wasn’t always a big multimillionaire author. If you read his book, you see he was a guy worried about making ends meet. He didn’t have enough money to get his wife a present on mothers day and was thinking he needed to get a full time job and give up on his dream of writing. Sound familiar? He was a guy with hopes, dreams and aspirations PRAYING that the next envelope wouldn’t be a rejection. I guarantee you that every one of those rejections hurt. He stuck with it and I hear has done quite well for himself.
If you publish it
Maybe you get a few good or even great reviews. Then something happens. You get a negative review.
It’s human nature to read it over and over again. To wonder what you did wrong. To wonder why this total stranger would say something like that. In the worst case, it’s a personal attack. Even if it’s not personal, it still feels like it is.
I’ve known plenty of authors that have gotten 20 positive, 5 star reviews. But a single 1 star review ruins their week. It’s human nature, but just know that wherever you are in your career – you are not alone. Take a look at some of the people at the top of Amazon’s bestseller list:
- Dan Brown – Inferno
– 3000+ reviews 190 “1 star reviews”
- George RR Martin – A Song of Ice and Fire, Books 1-4
2000+ reviews 189 “1 star reviews”
- Stephen King’s new book (released this week): Joyland
– 90 reviews 7 “1 star reviews”
and the list goes on. Many of these reviews are well into the ouch and “I’ll cry myself to sleep” category.
So What’s an Author To Do?
Well, it is what it is, but do your best to:
- Be professional. At the end of the day, you’re a professional. Act like a professional. Don’t be a crazy pants, respond, or even complain about it. It just makes you look bad if you sink to their level.
- Don’t behave badly. There is a blog courtesy of Pocketful of Books (http://www.pocketfulofbooks.com/p/authors-behaving-badly.html) about authors doing things they shouldn’t. Don’t get on the list.
- Have tough skin. I know, easier said than done, but negative reviews area fact of life – even if you’re number 1 on the bestseller list (Sorry Dan Brown).
- Move on and focus on the positive. It’s human nature to feel attacked or hurt by a negative review. Remind yourself that you are a good writer and you’re going to keep learning and improving.
- Keep yourself busy. Go for a walk, get lunch with a friend, go to a movie. Having a busy day with a few fun things tossed in will help keep your mind occupied.
- Write, write, and write. After all, that’s what writer’s do. Take all those feelings and put it into writing something completely amazing for your next book. After all, that’s the best revenge.
- Keep trying and don’t give up. Keep submitting to publishers and agents, keep writing and publishing books. Don’t let it get to you – it’s part of the life as a writer.
Addition from author Jess Michaels: #8. Don’t actively look for reviews. I know you’ll come across them anyway, but if you’re actively looking for comments – there is a greater chance to find something to ruin your day.