One thing I know for sure: being a writer is not for the faint-hearted or the thin-skinned. We’re faced with so many challenges, not the least of which is, ‘What if someone doesn’t like my book and gives it a negative review?’
I mean, I pour my heart and soul into my books, right? How could someone reject my baby?!?
In answer to that, here’s a quote from Joanna Penn, whose workshop I attended last month: “Your book isn’t your baby, it’s your employee. Make it work for you!”
Isn’t that a refreshing way to look at it? (Check out Joanna's website The Creative Penn - it's fabulous!)
But how do we prepare ourselves for negative reviews? And how can we deal with them when they happen?
Some writers never read reviews of their books, but I do. I’m way too curious. According to The Five Love Languages, I’m also a ‘words of affirmation’ girl, so it can be tricky for me. But I’ve learned a couple of things along the way which I’d like to share with you in the hope it will be of help to some.
I’ve had two negative reviews quite recently. One of them was for my novella, ‘All is Bright’, which I indie published last year in a box set called ‘An Aussie Summer Christmas’ along with five other authors, including our own Narelle Atkins and Rose Dee. Unfortunately, I can’t directly quote the review for you, as the boxset no longer exists on Amazon, but I can certainly remember the gist of it!
In ‘All is Bright’, my heroine, Amy, has been secretly in love with her brother-in-law for years, and continues to feel horribly guilty, even though her sister passed away five years ago. The reviewer hated the premise, citing it as being disgusting and immoral, along with a few other choice adjectives. ‘All is Bright’ was responsible the boxset receiving three stars, not four.
The second negative review was given to ‘Too Pretty’ only last week. I was at the Hillsong Colour Conference, where I’d been mightily inspired and encouraged. Just as well! A review for ‘Too Pretty’ came up in my Twitter feed one night, so I checked it out. It was really well done, with all these funny gifs which really made me chuckle. Until I came to the words: “What did I think of the book? I didn’t like it.”
Believe me, she didn’t. For two reasons, neither of which I agree with, funnily enough J You can read the review here if you like. Seriously, the gifs are awesome!
For an affirmation chick like me, by rights these two reviews should’ve flattened me. My roomie at the conference, who also happens to be my bestie, said, “How do you cope with something like that? I’d be devastated if that was said about something I’d created.”
But I’m not devastated. Here are some reasons why:
1. As mentioned before, not everyone will like my stories, or ‘get’ my work. After all, each of the seven billion personalities on the planet are unique and will never totally agree on anything, especially when it comes to taste in music, art or books. It’s just the way it is, so I choose not to stress over it. There’s no point.
2. Having a negative review makes the rest of them genuine. Clearly, I haven’t bribed my friends and rellies to write lovely things about my books.
3. There can be elements of truth in negative reviews. If you end up with a number of them all saying the same thing, then perhaps it’s a good idea to take notice!
4. Negative reviews of my books DO NOT define who I am, because my identity is not defined by my writing. It’s defined by who I am in God.
To my mind, that last one is the most important. Last year I went through a bit of an identity crisis. You can read about that here.
In a nutshell, if you know who you are, or more importantly, whose you are, then negative reviews are a thousand times easier to handle. God loves me. He adores me. And while that may sound incredibly simplistic, at the end of the day, to me, that’s what matters the most.
Andrea Grigg lives on the Gold Coast, Queensland, and is the author of two contemporary Christian romance novels, and a novella. She would love to connect with you via: