Thursday, July 22, 2021

Everyone's a Critic: Dealing with Bad Reviews


Everyone has dealt with a critic in one aspect or another. You can't please everyone, and sometimes your particular creation just doesn't sync with a person's individual tastes. Does it necessarily mean you're bad at what you do? No, but it can give you some pointers to further improve your craft.

One of the biggest criticisms I have gotten on my writing was on prose, grammar, and long-windedness. At first, it was a little disheartening to see, but after having some time to consider it, I've kept it in the back of my mind for future works. Even the best editors don't catch everything, so it's important to review your work a million times over, and have more than one person read it before it goes to publication. It's easy to miss things when you're overly familiar with your own writing. So yes, these criticisms have helped me improve over the years.

Sometimes though, you get reviews that trash your writing simply because they just didn't like it, or had some kind of personal problem with you. My worst review on Amazon, titled 'Be Careful what your Children read', says:

"New Age Writers, like Eppley, want to indoctrinate your children into their politics. If you don't want your children raised with that much hate, check out the writers and books first."

This review flat out made me laugh. There's nothing political or hateful in the book this person was commenting on. My guess is this person must have a personal problem with me, or saw some comment I made online that they didn't like and thought they'd "teach me a lesson" by trashing my book. You're going to get those type of comments sometimes if you make a big enough impact. I see it as a badge of honor. I actually pissed someone off enough that they felt the need to look me up and talk smack. I did it! My first hater!

That being said, the bad reviews I really dislike are the ones that are just one star with no comment. Hey, help me out here. What is it about the book you didn't like? Help me improve. Those types of reviews are pretty much better left ignored.

Pay attention to the good reviews too! Don't let a few haters bring you down. Read what those who liked your book have to say. Are they all liking it for similar reasons? There you go, you found what your readers like. Stick to it! Pat yourself on the back. It's okay to feel pride about something you worked hard on getting through to the audience.

In short, my main message here is this. You could be the best writer in the world and someone out there is still going to hate it. The important things to focus on are improvement based on honest feedback, and the love of the craft. If you liked it enough that you felt it deserved being published, other people are going to like it too.

Stay weird.

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