Yesterday I tweeted a link to a very negative review of Green. (That link is in this morning’s Link Salad as well.) The review closes with my favorite book diss I’ve ever seen applied to anyone’s work. I mean, it’s a freaking brilliant combination of disgusted ennui and visceral dislike for a book, distilled into an amazingly simple phrase.
Louise Marley responded via Facebook with You’re braver than I, Jay. I shove negative reviews under the rug, where no one can ever find them. And I know a number of very smart writers, thinking specifically of Dean Wesley Smith at the moment, who strongly advise that one never reads reviews.
Louise and Dean are right. But I’m weird. Because bad reviews don’t bother me at all. In some ways, I enjoy them more than good reviews.
In part, this is because any review, especially from a reader (as opposed to a formal review outlet like Publishers Weekly or Locus) means that someone cared enough personally about the book to talk about it public. Even if they come to bury the book, not to praise it.
It’s a really good post, worthy of your attention, and I don’t want to add much to it. Writers for the most part want nothing but praise to be delivered in large crates each morning, just before breakfast, to set them up for the day. But every writer is going to get negativity hurled their way.
I think it’s healthy to at least face negative comments. I don’t think there’s a way you can never let them get to you, unless you’re programmed that way, but facing that not everyone is going to like what you do is probably a healthy act.
And, once you accept that not everyone is going to like what you do – or even just you – it’s fine. It’s rough for the first year, because you’re looking to establish yourself, and you’re still becoming familiar with the industry. Having said that, every time I get a nice review, or someone emails me to say they enjoyed the book, it helps me a little through the process of writing my current project.