I remember the first time that I received a bad review. I wanted to find that person and punch them in the face. It hurt my feelings to think that somebody didn’t like my work. I sat there in my arrogance knowing good and damn well I was the best that ever did it. Truth was… I wasn’t.
Another writer knocked me off my high horse by telling me to read the bad reviews of some of the greats: Terry McMillan, Zane, Nicolas Sparks, and hell even Shakespeare. It was her way of saying what makes you think you are any better than them. I appreciate her for that because I needed it. As I sat there reading all the horrible reviews to so many books that I enjoyed growing up, I realized that being an author was much like being in a relationship: The 80/20 rule applies. I had to place myself in the shoes of the reader and realize that in any book there was room for improvement. You will only get 80% of what you need. The other 20% is your imagination.
My favorite bad review was under the Twilight Series written by Stephanie Meyer. The review compared Jacob to a pedophile. I can be a bit twisted so that gave me a good chuckle because, in reality, it was truth. I was a diehard #teamJacob fan and that one reviewer made me realize that everybody doesn’t enjoy the same flavors. It’s all about perspective.
As an author, I forgot that I was once simply just a reader and before I opened a book there was a certain expectation. I forgot that my readers would have that same expectation.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is a difference in a bad review and straight up disrespect. Bad reviews critique your work and leave you with something to grow from as a writer. Blatant disrespect is someone wanting to run your book over with a car (I’ve had a review like that and from it I learned nothing). But as a professional, you have to learn to remain silent or do as I tell you and don’t read reviews at all. I can guarantee you J.K. Rowling isn’t sitting online looking to see who disliked her work this week.
Going back to comparing writing to being in a relationship, we must learn to focus on the people who do love us and our brand. Those are the people that you write for because they will love you no matter what.