Learn From Those Negative Reviews

I’ve had a couple less than stellar book reviews lately, so I wrote them back nasty responses and told them how awesome my books are!

No, I didn’t.

Haha. Actually, I’m not really bothered with negative reviews. No, I don’t go searching for them, but I get it. Heck, it’s tough to get a good review out of me. I give negative reviews to lots of things. Hollywood is my punching bag, so I frequently give bad reviews to professionals who make their living making creative content. Example: I loved “Parks & Rec Seasons 1-6.” ¬†I just started season 7 the other day and I thought “What garbage is this?” The writing has taken a terrible turn into terribleness. So, yeah. I get it. Everyone is going to have different opinions about the creative arts, but I digress.

Not everyone is going to like how I write, how I develop characters, how I plot a story. I don’t even like it sometimes, especially when I read something I wrote a year ago. So first off, I don’t take it personally and I don’t let it stop me from doing what I love.

However, I have learned to try to understand why someone has a view they have so I can learn from it. I had one reviewer that noticed some inconsistencies in a story which I never noticed before. Nor did my editor. Or any of my other beta readers or people in the universe. But when I looked at the manuscript, the reader was right. I had it wrong. How? I have no idea. It happens.

So I went back today and re-wrote a few sections to even out the details. Now it’s better.

And that, my friends, is the best way to handle bad reviews. Learn from them if you can. If there is nothing to learn (and often there isn’t) then wash it away and forget.

Every writer or creative artist will run into criticism. You can’t escape it. The best thing to do is acknowledge it and move on.


Exquisite Multi-Layered Story vs. Poorly Executed Story – Hmmmm.

I am completely fascinated by book reviews, actually much more so than books themselves. I find it enlightening and interesting to see what someone has said about a particular book. I must admit that there are times I hop over to Amazon just for that reason. I’ll pick an author, possibly known but usually unknown to me, and I’ll read what people say about him or her. The vast array of opinions can be dizzying. But here lies the truth that all authors must embrace: someone won’t like your writing no matter what you write.

Here are two reviews of my second novel, The Recluse Storyteller:

Review A: “Exquisite Multi-Layered Story”

Review B: “Conceptually brilliant. Poorly executed.”

It does make me chuckle how opinions can vary so much. If I had to choose one, I’ll choose the first one. But I don’t get to choose. I have to accept both of them because both are valid opinions.

I’ll admit, The Recluse Storyteller is structured in quite an unorthodox way. At one point, it’s the author, me, telling the story of Margaret, the recluse, telling the story of Quan, a survivor of a massacre in Vietnam, telling the story of Vinh, the person who gave him (Quan) hope and a new life.

Whew! Yes, it can be a little confusing. I’ve heard from many reviewers, actually, that at first, they weren’t sure if they were going to like The Recluse Storyteller¬†because of it’s unique structure.

I knew that some people wouldn’t get it, and I’ll have to live with the fact that someone out there thinks it was a poorly executed story. I’ll respect that opinion.

But I’ll also admit, I feel blessed to see that most of my readers do get what I was trying to accomplish with this novel, and that is satisfying indeed.

I don’t really know any authors who like bad reviews and neither do I, but I also don’t mind them either. I have my opinions about books and movies, and I’m not afraid to share them so neither should others – even when it’s my work they are negatively reviewing. It is a natural part of being any type of creative artist. People are so diverse in their likes and desires that no one can please everyone, nor should they.

Wouldn’t the world be rather boring if that was the case?