Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: Learning to Deal with the Hard Stuff

“I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat.” ~Sylvester Stallone

For my blog tour next month, I'm going to be writing a post about 10 things I wish I'd known about being an author...or something like that. Anyway, I was thinking about it, and one thing I've learned over the last 2 weeks - and wish I'd known - is how to deal with harsh words and bad reviews.

Here's the thing: you learn to deal with rejection pretty quickly before you become a published author. Unless you're incredibly unique, you're going to get rejection letters (or emails) from agents and editors before you get that first contract. Then, once you're published, you're probably going to get reviews you won't like.

Case in point, One Night in Boston, which for the last 2 weeks has been featured as a Kindle Freebie over at Amazon. Wonderful experience, as it's been in the top 4 the entire 2 weeks - mostly in the #2 spot. And I've seen the rankings of my other books, all of them, ebook and print, improve as well. Terrific.

I've also seen the number of reviews on my book increase from 2 to 24. Great, I thought at first, reader feedback. But interestingly enough, those reviews range from the 4-and 5-star raves to the 1-star pans. Really. I stopped reading the 1-star reviews after I saw comments like "There's a reason this is free - don't waste your time" and "Not smart, not funny, not well-written." Ouch. I'm gonna be honest - it hurts. And now I know why some movie and music stars don't read their reviews. Not to say I'm anything close to a star, but I still get it. Poor reviews can really make you start second-guessing yourself.

So that's one thing I wish I knew: that people will probably dislike your work, even after you're published, after an editor has worked through it with you, after review sites have praised it and friends and unknown readers have sent you fan mail about it. I will read future reviews with more than one grain of salt, and I won't read any more scathing reviews. I know people have different tastes, and I know some people simply won't enjoy my book or my writing. But I don't have to dwell on the negative things they have to say, either, or let them bring down my self-esteem.

Soldier on, fellow writers!


Mom said...

Good lesson to learn. Don't let other people's negativity intrude on your own self-esteem and positive outlook, whether it's book reviews, or other forms of creative expression.

Carlo Turco said...

I am one of the people who bought your "One Night in Boston" from Kindle Amazon at a discount price. I've already read enough of it to say that I don't like it. However, this is not because it is not well written, built up, or anything like: simply, it belongs to a fiction genre I'm not interested in, generally speaking.
I wonder whether some bad reviews are not due mainly to the fact that an inadequate presentation of a novel by its publisher has fostered
a strong disappontment in some readers.

Judith Leger said...

Oh, excellent, Allie. I agree too. Just received a review on one of my stories. The reviewer just didn't like my heroine. Loved the rest of the story but for some reason could connect with my heroine. Why? Dunno. Will this stop me from writing? Nope. She's one person compared to all the others who enjoyed the story and the heroine.
It's hard to move forward after someone 'rejects' you in any manner. If you truly want to succeed you have to focus on your dream and carry on!

Charity Tahmaseb said...

Two things I always keep in mind:

1. Reviews are for readers, not authors.

2. If you’re not getting negative reviews, you’re not being widely read.

I think this has been terrific for you. All your books are selling and the negative reviews are all of the “I got something for free and didn’t like it” variety. And what you don’t see is the positive word of mouth, people telling their friends about One Night in Boston, and hurry, it’s free only for a short while.

So, it hurts and it sucks, but man, you got street cred now.

Another thing I do is pick a favorite author and check her/his one star reviews. Somehow that always helps.

Or I think about chocolate cake. Inexplicably, some people don’t like chocolate cake. You could serve it to them with homemade butter cream frosting on a silver platter--for free!--and they still wouldn’t like it.

Hang in there. As much as it sucks, I think the positives outweigh the negatives in this one.

Allie Boniface said...

Charity, I too browsed some favorite/best-selling authors' reviews and read the 1-star ones. It does help, doesn't it? And I keep in mind that for all the people who LOVE the Twilight books, I simply do not. At all. Same sort of thing - not gonna please everyone.

Carlo, I'm interested in your "inadequate presentation by the publisher" comment. Do you mean that publishers mislead potential readers? You bought ONIB even though it's labeled as romance, which I'm assuming is the genre you don't normally read...did you think it was something other than romance?

Marianne Arkins said...

There is a review out for "Kitchen Matches" in which the person states that if there was a lower rating than 1, it would have gotten it.


OTOH, I've rec'd stellar reviews for the story. Still, the negative ones hurt.

I like Charity's point:

If you’re not getting negative reviews, you’re not being widely read.

Soldier on, indeed!

Beautiful Creator said...

Hi Allie,
I also downloaded One Night in Boston from Amazon. I started it Monday at lunch and finished it today at lunch. I loved it and could not put it down. I even read it while watching the Giants games on Monday and Tuesday nights which I rarely do. I gave it 5 stars. I found your blog because I went to your website to see what other books you have written. One Night in Napa is my next selection. Don't let the bad reviews bother you. Just look at it as you were not their cup of tea!
Going now to start reading!

Allie Boniface said...

Thanks BC! You are absolutely right...different strokes for different folks. Hope you enjoy Napa!