Let’s face it, there is a marked difference between someone telling you personally that they did not care for something you wrote and finding a negative book review in print for everyone to see. It can be quite rattling. But like it or not, life goes on. As Creative Writers we need to know the appropriate means of dealing with negative reviews.
It’s Not Just Business, It Is Personal
You may recall the scene from The Godfather, when Tom tells Sonny that the failed hit put out on their father was business and it wasn’t personal. Yet when a Book Reviewer assassinates one of our novels, they may not mean anything personal about it, but as authors we take it as personal. There’s a simple reason for that – it is personal.
I’m not saying that any Book Critic has it out for any author by posting a negative book review. But as Creative Writers who are passionate about our craft, when anyone so publicly criticizes our art, something we have poured our heart and passion into, we will take it personally. It’s like when a parent hears something bad about one of their children, it hurts badly.
There’s Something To Learn
Even though a negative Book Review may sting, remember that no one has it out for you. It’s not personal, it’s just business, as much as it may not seem that way. As authors we may love what we write, but we are always learning. No one is perfect and we can always improve. In this Book Reviews can help us, both the positive as well as the negative ones. In fact, we may learn more from negative Book Reviews than positive because our flaws are exposed.
If someone criticizes the flow of your story or the arrangement of your plot, maybe that is something you need to improve upon. Possibly someone doesn’t like how you lay out dialogue or your choices for characters’s voices. Maybe you didn’t know of these flaws, but now you do because of a negative Book Review. There’s always something to learn.
How To Console
If the get a bad review, the worst advice is “just get over it,” “move on,” or, “that’s just one person’s opinion.” You don’t deal with a negative Book Review by ignoring it. You read the criticism as one eager to learn and improve. And as hard as it may be, try to keep yourself distant from the critique. It is so easy to get mad and take it personally. Just don’t do it.
Give the Book Reviewer the benefit of the doubt that they have everyone’s best interest at heart, both the readers but also you as an author. You may in the end disagree with someone’s assessment and evaluation, but first you need to fairly read what they have to say. You just may learn something and come out on the other end of things a better Creative Writer. Be thankful for negative Book Reviews.