Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dealing with the badness

If you have a book out, or are one day planning or hoping to have a book out, you know you're going to get some bad reviews, right? We've all just accepted that this comes along with the territory, right? Beth Revis posted on her blog about a week ago one of the most incredible posts I've ever read, and it was about getting bad reviews. It was seriously SO GOOD! If you haven't already seen it, you should really check it out. I repeat: SO GOOD.

Beth Revis: How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Although, I'm not even sure that "respond" is the best way to describe it, because "respond" brings to mind a conversation between author and someone else. But really, it's just about what should go on in the author's head. No matter what stage of the game you're in, this is important stuff to keep in mind.

And the thing is, her post about dealing with negative reviews doesn't just relate to reviews from readers. If you're querying (or querying is in your future), it also relates to agents. If you're on submission (or subbing is in your future), it also relates to editors. The fact is, not everyone is going to be head-over-heels in love with your book! It's just the way it is. And that's totally okay. With the amount of information about agents there is online, it's still pretty hard to predict if your story is going to be something a particular agent fall in love with. Heck, even with your best friend, you sometimes suggest a book you think they'll love that they end up not loving, right? It's the exact same for agents when they're submitting to editors.

My point? Getting rejections (whether it's from readers, agents, or editors) is OKAY. It's completely normal. And it DOESN'T MEAN THAT YOUR BOOK IS BAD. It means you haven't found the perfect match yet. Like Beth says, people are just different. (And really. Go read that post if you haven't. It's presented in such a great way. And funny. Did I mention funny?)

Do you handle (or think you'll handle) negative reviews well?

27 comments:

Donna K. Weaver said...

Haha I'm already preparing myself for bad reviews. Got one from my best friend. Of all my betas, she liked best the section everyone else liked least. Different strokes for different folks.

Delia said...

I loved that post. Judging by the way I've handled rejection so far, I think I'll do okay. I just hope that one day I'll have to handle some acceptance. :)

JeffO said...

The most stinging 'reviews' I've gotten so far came when I got my query and first 250 words in a blog contest and I got fairly savaged. It was tough, but all you can do is look at the reasoning behind the negatives and work to improve from there. I hope that *when* I'm published (we'll keep positive here) I'll have the strength to not even look at reviews, good or bad. While there are things to potentially learn from reviews, there's also going to be a lot of chaff to blow through, and it may not be worth the time.

Kelley Lynn said...

She is a great author and that post is SO good. The rejections from agents definitely doesn't hurt as much anymore. I guess reviews might eventually subside to a tiny twinge. let's hope I can someday get to that :)

TerryLynnJohnson said...

agreed, I loved that post. And so true that not everyone has the same tastes! I'm always amazed at my teen step daughter when she doesn't love a book that I did. She stopped reading the Hunger Games!!! But tried again when she heard there was a movie coming out. Certainly everyone is different and that's a good thing!

Lauren said...

I told someone the other day (on another blog, but I don't remember the name) that if someone hates your MC that's a good thing--it means the character is memorable. If the character wasn't a memorable character they probably wouldn't bother to say anything.

And internet reviews? Take it with a large bucketful of salt, and if you have to pay attention pay attention to those who have demonstrated that they actually read the book. Most of them probably haven't.

"This is so terrible, I can't imagine how it got published" is probably about as generic as you can get.

Libby said...

I started reading some reviews of my favorite authors and some of them were scathing. I mean, these are very talented well received individuals and some Amazon reviews made it sound like they were hacks. Total eye opener.

Annalisa Crawford said...

I've been submitting since I was 17, so I've had a lot of rejections which has helped in dealing with the bad reviews. What I've had to contend with recently from some of my friends is 'I don't get it' - I think that might be harder than 'I don't like it'.

Chris van Soolen said...

Thanks for sharing that post, both your take and Beth Rever's post. Very good stuff!! I have found that with negative reviews, the ones I take the hardest are the ones that match that little voice inside my head. It's good to put things back into perspective :)

Jaime Morrow said...

I read Beth Revis's post, and it was definitely a must-read. She's commented on dealing with negative reviews in the past, but this one in particular was fantastic. She's totally right—not everyone will love every story. We're all different, and we all like different thinks. It's impossible to please everyone.

You raise a great point about how it can be applied to rejections as well. Important to keep in mind once I start querying. :)

Jenny Morris said...

Yeah, I read her post the other day. I think I will file it away in my brain for a rainy day. I was blown away by how many 1 star reviews books that everyone loves got. Obviously everyone doesn't really love them. But it does put it all in perspective.

Leslie Pugh said...

I can only imagine having bad reviews one day and that it just comes with the territory. Even authors with amazing success (like J.K.Rowling) and universal appeal still have readers that don't love their books. That's just life, right?

Gonna go read that article now and as Jenny says, store it away in my brain for another day.

Leslie Pugh said...

I can only imagine having bad reviews one day and that it just comes with the territory. Even authors with amazing success (like J.K.Rowling) and universal appeal still have readers that don't love their books. That's just life, right?

Gonna go read that article now and as Jenny says, store it away in my brain for another day.

Joshua said...

You can't please everyone all the time. That's what I keep telling myself. Also, the BA in Theatre helps.

S.P. Bowers said...

Ha! Some days I don't even like my book.

Emily R. King said...

Great post! We can't please everyone, can we? As I always say, I don't want just any agent. I want an agent who adores my writing. Anything less isn't good enough. Every writer deserves to find an advocate for the publishing industry. Agents don't settle, so why should we?

MJenningsDBQ said...

Great post.
I have no clue how my hypersensitiveness is going to deal with rejection. There is nothing rational about it, so rational advice seems to do little for me. I imagine there will be a great deal of "gnashing of teeth" on my end.

Carrie Butler said...

Rejections, I understand. Spend any amount of time in the query trenches, and you'll get thick skin. (That's one of the unexpected perks!) But scathing reviews? I don't know. I am of the mindset that if you can't say anything nice--or in this case, constructive--you shouldn't say anything at all.

*Shrug* Just my personal take. I'm sure I'll learn to live with negative reviews next year. :)

Martin Willoughby said...

Dealing with rejections I now find easy, ending up with a celebrations for doing someting positive.

I've not had a bad review yet, no reviews at all to be honest, but I guess it's the balance that troubles me. If they're mostly negative I'd worry, but I would take note of the ones that had something interesting to say and ignore the one sentence trolls.

Carrie-Anne said...

I've gotten some negative feedbacks when I've entered some things in contests and from one would-be beta reader. I have to remind myself that I have a writing and narrative style that's the product of all the older books I've read through my life. What I consider normal and natural (like some expository set-up early on), others more schooled in modern-day books will find "infodump" or "telling," for example. Other people do like my writing and my somewhat old-fashioned style, so it's just a matter of connecting with the right agent or editor.

The Golden Eagle said...

I'm not sure. I'd like to think I'll get a thick skin--fast--and let the really cutting ones blow over, but I don't think I'll know positively until I actually have a book out there.

(And I see you just reached 500 Followers! Congratulations!)

Trisha said...

I think I've got a reasonably thick skin already, but I think it'd be a whole different ballgame with a work I've honed into what I think is the best it can be, and then I still get bad reviews. But I have no doubt it will happen to me too :)

Beth's post was great. But I still stand by the fact that I don't like dogs. haha

Paul Tobin said...

I think if you put your work out there someone will not like it. It depends how personal they make it, if it is hurtful to me I do not take it well, but if it is about the work then everyone has their own opinion.

Lan said...

Thanks for the reminder Peggy! I'm wallowing in edits right now and need something to pick me up. This has just done it.

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

I read that post a few days ago - it was terrific! And it's so true. If we're going to be honest, (much as we don't like to say anything negative about our fellow writers) we've all read books we didn't love. It doesn't mean they're bad, it just means that it wasn't a match for you. That's what makes it all so great - there are readers for every writer and writers for every reader, but not every writer is for every reader and vice versa. Hey. That sound like a tongue twister. say it three times fast :)

Rachna Chhabria said...

Thanks for suggesting that post. I badly need to pep myself up at this stage.

Valerie Hartman said...

Now following a new blog. Thanks for the tip.