People Will Hate You. People Will Love You.

03/03/11 10:01 AM

You can’t please everyone, and you shouldn’t try. Logically, I imagine we all know this is true, but it’s a hard thing for our emotional selves to deal with, isn’t it? Especially when it comes to people reviewing our art.

But the fact is, people will hate your work. Violently, even. To the point they feel compelled to publicly claim that their 12-year-old deaf and blind chihuahua has more writing talent than you. They’ll be “forced” to leave a one-star review on Amazon only because Amazon won’t allow them to give zero stars. (And no, this hasn’t happened to me yet. It will, though.)

Don’t believe me? Think of three books you recently read and enjoyed. Go to Amazon, look them up, and check out the reviews. Do it — I’ll wait. I guarantee that at least one of these books you enjoyed has some scathing one-star reviews.

Need more evidence? Check out some recent award winners, like Tinkers by Paul Harding or Jonathan Franzen’s much lauded Freedom or Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (a book I absolutely adored). Not only are there negative reviews, some are downright ugly and mean.

So that’s the dirty truth: people will hate your work. And at times, it will feel like people hate you. It will sting and hurt (don’t deny this — I don’t care how “thick” you claim your skin is). But the thing we all need to keep in mind is that it happens to ALL writers. (Yes, even the classics. Check out Great Expectations by Charles Dickens or Moby Dick by Melville. That’s Dickens in the pic, by the way.)

The antidote to a bad review is a good review. Focus on the people who love your work. Because if you’re doing your job well and you have some talent, there will be an audience for your art.

(PS — Can you tell I’m gearing up for reviews of my debut novel, Forgotten April? Please point me back to this post when all I want to do is drink and drool on the rug after I get a bad review. 🙂 )

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Posted by Robyn | in Book Reviews, Self publishing | 9 Comments »

9 Comments on “People Will Hate You. People Will Love You.”

  1. Phil Says:

    Agreed, Robyn! How thick our skin when we recommend to others that they ignore the slings and arrows of their own miserable reviews, how suddenly vulnerable and outraged we become when forced to endure them ourselves. I think the amount of pain one suffers from a bad review is commensurate with the pleasure we receive from a good one. You just have to take the good with the bad and like you said, focus on the good.

  2. Robyn Says:

    @Phil Amen, brother.

  3. Chris Truscott Says:

    No avoiding it. The mail I got in my first reporting job — at the whopping age of 23 — was scary crazy.

  4. Robyn Says:

    Bet it would make good fodder for fiction, Chris! 😉

  5. Ghenet Says:

    This is so true and important to remember. I hope I’m able to let bad reviews go once my work is published.

  6. Robyn Says:

    I think that’s the key, Ghenet — letting them go.

  7. Margo Says:

    I dont’ think I’d ever be able to read reviews! Now critiques are one thing, because you have to go back and fix things. But reviews! I’ve heard some authors say you just shouldn’t read them at all.

  8. Robyn Says:

    @Margo — Yeah, I’ve heard that as well. I thought I’d be like that, but I can’t help it — I do read them.

  9. robin Says:

    I agree with that, although it’s hard to take negative criticism sometimes. I tend to take things personally, so negative comments either really hurt or make me furious! LOL.