You guys, I got a bad review. Not uniformly horrible, but definitely mediocre, and from a notable site I was hoping would help boost me up a little. Apparently that’s not to be.
I haven’t really gotten a bad review before, and I’m honestly a little puzzled as to how to handle it. It’s a little embarrassing, sure, and I was upset at first – at 7 in the morning after a terrible night’s sleep and a nightmare about being very brutally fired from a job. I guess that was some kind of omen.
There are, of course, two ways to handle such a thing. Number one is to get all huffy and pissy and shout to everyone that you refuse to believe that you’re anything but perfect. The second is to quietly brood about it, tell no one and bury it in your brain…and refuse to believe that you’re anything but perfect.
But really. What usually happens is that the part of you that’s convinced that you’re a flawless superstar rebels from the criticism, but the reasonable piece of you looks at the critique and is able to say, “yeah, okay, maybe he’s right about this or that.”
I’m usually pretty good at being objective after I get over my initial disappointment, and I’m interested to hear what other people think because no author is capable of being a perfect judge of their own work. But I really don’t think there’s anything in this review that resonates with my inner critic. I feel like this guy read the first 40 pages and then skimmed the rest, not really paying attention and failing to capture the nuance or take the journey with the characters.
He pretty much said the opposite of what all my other readers have said. My characters are one-dimensional? There are too many of them? The story is “too heavy”? I don’t even know what that means. Should there have been 400 pages of Tev frolicking in the woods with some happy little animals? Tev isn’t really into the whole frolicking thing. And this isn’t a “first novel” in the sense that there’s a series following it. It was intended to be a stand-alone, which definitely changes how you read things.
In any case, there it is. It’s out there, calling me middling at best, and I’m going to have to deal with that in the best way I know how. I read somewhere that if no one hates your work, you just don’t have a wide enough audience. I love that quote (please tell me if you know who said it), and I’ve been taking it to heart ever since reviews started coming in. Not everyone is going to love everything, and someone is always going to think you’re an idiot. You can either take that in stride, or you can let it control how you do things.
A year ago, if someone had given me that review, I would have cried for a couple of hours and never picked up a pen again. Right now, I’m just determined to make my next effort as strong and enjoyable as possible, and hope there are more positive responses than otherwise.
That’s actually a really huge step for me, if we’re talking about personal development. I used to be hyper-competitive about things like grades and rankings and stars. If I wasn’t the best, or close to it, then I was a failure. That’s a really stupid way to live. I’m not the best author that ever lived. I probably never will be. But I’m good, I have stories to tell, and I can only get better.
So if you think this guy got it wrong and a 7.0 is a little low, please leave a comment and your own ranking to set readers straight. Obviously I can’t say anything on the site, and I really have no enmity towards the reviewer himself, but that would be really helpful. A few words is all it takes.