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. 🙂 )