One thing you need to have in order to be a successful writer is a thick skin. First of all, let me just say, you’ll never make it in this business if you’re thin skinned. Why? Because not everyone is going to like your book.
Some people will say it sucks.
I remember when I self-published my first book, HOLY CRAP AND THE JUDGMENT DAY BLUES, over on Amazon – I was excited. I couldn’t wait to put my baby out there for mass consumption. In my head, I believed it would be this awesome bestseller and the reviews would all be spectacular. And while it sold, the few copies I managed to push, I waited for the praise to come rolling in.
The wait was agonizing in and of itself, but when the first ones came in, I was thrilled. I got a handful of four and five star reviews! I was on cloud nine, floating above the world on wings of pure amber. And then, like Icarus, I flew to close to the sun and got burned. I fell from the sky like the Fallen Star and hit the earth with my first negative review.
One fucking star. It was like getting shot.
When I read the comments, I was enraged. I wanted to email the reviewer and curse them out, I wanted to blow up their house and set fire to their children. I wanted payback. I remember reading the review a handful of times with my blood boiling – I even started writing a response to their heartless review. How dare they criticize my book and point out its flaws!
And then I stopped.
What was the point writing these people back? I mean, art is subjective. What works for one person isn’t going to work for another person, right? Some grammar errors easily overlooked by one person might really throw a person for a loop and take them right out of the story. It wasn’t the reviewers fault they didn’t like the book, it was mine as the author. Their points were as valid as the positive ones and I had to embrace that.
I stopped writing the hateful response. I calmed down. Not entirely, I mean when I go back and re-read it I still get a little upset. Its like you’re showing off you baby at work when one of your colleagues comes over and says, “That’s one ugly fucking baby.”
I will tell you more of my encounters with bad reviews and critiques in the upcoming blogs, but I thought I’d share this little bit of a truth nugget. Be ready for it, is all I’m saying. And if you can’t take negative feedback, don’t publish. Because you’re going to get it in fucking spades, especially on the internet.
Ride out your emotion. Know its okay to be disappointed and saddened by bad reviews. Hell, get mad. But then absorb it, take it in and analyze it carefully, constructively, and with an open mind and a gentle heart.
And if you run into them in the real world, punch them in the face.