I’ve seen a lot of recent posts from book bloggers complaining about author behavior. I want to say I don’t understand it, but unfortunately I do.
A couple of months ago I got an email from a blogger who was reading my book, Secret Storm. She said she was confused by the timing of some of the events in the books. I thought the timeline was fairly obvious, but I took it personally. Without thinking, I wrote back to her and told her if she didn’t like it, don’t review it. She wrote back and apologized for asking, and that’s when I felt like total shit. After thinking about my reply, I apologized and explained that I was having a bad day (mostly true, but also an excuse). She ended up giving Secret Storm a 4-star review, noting her concerns (but fortunately not my behavior) and she remains a fan, but I was very lucky she didn’t chastise me publicly.
We all experience bad reviews or criticism that’s hard to take. Here are some of the ways I’ve learned to deal with it.
1. Step away from the keyboard. Never respond to negative reviews. I’ve even been told not to respond to any review with anything but thank you. Thank you is always a good idea.
2. Think before you click send, share, or tweet…if you do at all. Anything you put in writing could come back and bite you in the ass. You can delete tweets, blog posts, and FB statuses, but someone may see it and share it before you can erase it. The internet is scary powerful.
3. Vent privately. If you absolutely have to put your thoughts in writing, do it someplace no one will ever see it. This is why I keep a journal. I can rant all I want and no one knows except me, and I feel better when I’m done. (Or see how crazy I am.) Sending an email to a friend isn’t entirely safe. If it’s in writing and on the internet, it can fall into the wrong hands. My computer is always connected to the internet, so my password protected journal could be accessed by someone who knows what they’re doing. (I watch too much Leverage. Dammit, Hardison!)
4. It’s not about you. It’s about your book. But if it is about you, stay professional. Some reviewers do attack the author, and when we’re attacked, it’s natural to want to fight back. Don’t do it. Engaging in a flame war helps no one. You can’t argue with an unreasonable person. Okay, you can, but you won’t change their mind.
5. Learn from it and move on. If more than one reviewer or beta reader is pointing out the same problem, give it some consideration. A couple of people have called Secret’s heroine, Sara Jensen, immature and annoying. I can’t stand immature heroines, so hearing that I wrote one really hurt. But Secret is being re-released in November, so I’m going to have my brilliant content editor take a look at it and see what we can do to make Sara less annoying. She does grow up though, so maybe…. Let it go, Amelia.
6. Have a drink. Actually, I never drink when I’m depressed, so scratch that. Bad idea.
Bottom line: however you choose to deal, do it privately. Don’t drag others down with you, and don’t retaliate.
“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” ~Trashy’s mom
If you’re an author, how do you deal with a bad review or harsh criticism? If you’re a reviewer, how do you deal with bad author behavior? Do you have positive stories to share?