Reviews: The Great, the Helpful and the Mean by Vaun Murphrey.
July 1, 2015
First of all, part of being a writer or entertainer of any sort, is receiving critique's or reviews of your work.
How we receive the influx of other human being's thoughts, and opinions would be up to us as the entertainer.
Don't let my first two sentences fool you - I still freak out for a bit when I read a 1-star review on my books. Sure, I calm down and then rationally go through the words without emotion BUT I allow myself the natural selfish joy of getting pissed off too.
It's all part of the gig.
The thing is, I had to get to a point where I could handle ALL of my reviews. The Great ones can damage you just as much as the Mean ones. We all know the spectrum, (or at least I do) - joy, invincibility and infallibility with a 5-star. Then doom, gloom and atomic anger at the unfairness of the world at a DNF or 1-star.
Here are a few things that might help if you keep them in mind:
1. "Always and never are fallacious together." If you read a review filled with absolutes, then it's likely that person feels so strongly that they are biased themselves. Every person in the world is entitled to their views but it doesn't make them a universal truth or law so why pretend it does? To quote Elsa, "Let it Go!"
2. "Try not to confuse criticism with a cut-down." Sometimes as an author you need your bubble popped. There really could be an area of weakness you didn't know of in your method or style until a new set of eyes points it out. Those helpful eyes are invaluable. Soak them in without beating your head with 'failure' and move on with new knowledge.
3. "Opinions are like @#%holes - everybody's got one." Give up the idea that every review will be fair, (or even about your book), because let's face it, people are strange. There are those that enjoy tearing apart another's work, but there are also those that have such a different perspective on life that they quote plot points and character names that aren't even in your story. Again - people are strange.
4. "Learn to separate your style from your reviews." I'm still working on this one. My voice is my own and does not match the style of any other to my knowledge. Some readers are not going to be fond of it. That's just the way it goes. I could pick up ten different books at Barnes&Noble or Hastings and only like the opening paragraph on five of them. Does that mean the five I didn't connect with are terrible - not at all, it just means they weren't to my taste! Fair enough.
5. "Remember why you started writing in the first place." What good is writing if you work so hard to please others that you forget why you picked it up in the first place? I began writing my first book January 2013. I went on to write three more by July 2014. Those were the good old days of straight up writing and none of the other things that go with it. Now I have those four books, released, and I've got to be my marketer, agent and all around assistant. It's easy to forget the joys of writing when you're swallowed by the business side. I'm going back to my roots for a while so that I can remember.
That's about all the 'knowledge' I've got on reviews.
Just remember #3 if anything I've said hurts your feelings.