Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Indie Life - It's All About Attitude

I'm very excited to be part of The Indelibles Indie Life series. These posts run on the second Wednesday of every month and include ideas and articles from a wide variety of indie authors. Check out the links below to learn more about INDIE LIFE.

I have only been doing this a couple of months. So far I have touched on the aspects of balance and quality.

Today I want to talk about attitude.

Being an author, you need a really tough skin. Your work of fiction is a part of you. It's born in the heart and grows over the days and weeks as you put the story together. Finally you have this baby that you want to share with the world...and that's when you're the most vulnerable.

Readers are honest and they have every right to be. You have put yourself out there and they are free to respond to your work as they see fit. Unfortunately that can be a really painful experience. Getting those five star reviews puts you on cloud nine. You feel elated that someone out there thinks your work rocks. You have given them an escape from reality and they have enjoyed it. But then come the one and two star reviews and these sting. Your work is torn to shreds as readers find every mistake and reason not to like it. Ouch! It really hurts.

It's in moments like these that you have to decide what attitude you'll take. As a child I always loathed criticism. I didn't fight it or try to justify it, I just believed it. This whole writing experience has taught me that I don't have to do that anymore.

Reading is subjective. I don't like every piece of fiction I read, so why should everyone like my stuff. I know some authors say you shouldn't read reviews at all, but I feel that if someone has taken the time to write a review for me, then I should take the time to read it...even the bad ones. Yes, they sting, but sometimes I have learned things that I can tuck away for future projects. I have to remind myself that it is just someone's opinion. Sometimes I want to respond, to write to the reviewer and explain why I did something the way I did, but I don't feel like that will get my anywhere. If anything, it'll just make me look desperate for approval. I don't need their approval. I have it from various other places. I wouldn't have even published the book in the first place if my beta readers hadn't told me it was worth it. No matter what, I have to brush off the biting words and focus on the five star reviews. And then I keep writing. I keep working on my craft and I make sure to never let my attitude slump into a place that will stop me from doing what I love.

Writing is a tough job. It can be lonely, frustrating and it takes a lot of work, but if you love it enough, you'll stick with it.

How do you cope with negative reviews?

12 comments:

  1. Great post. I'm in exactly the place you describe, with reviews all over the map. I remind myself that I have as many 5* reviews as 3/2/1* combined, and that helps. But was really helped was when I got glowing and tepid reviews over the exact same thing—one reviewer loved how I "skipped over the boring parts" and another said "it read like the highlights of a TV series." Another one that helped was the typical near-incoherent "hated this" review… that another reader responded to with dripping sarcasm about the reviewer's comprehension skills.

    Although I had to cringe at that 5* review that read like it came out of a review mill. :-P

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    1. That's the thing. Reviews can contradict each other. That's why we must take them with a grain of salt. We can't dwell on the bad stuff, which is a good thing.

      Thanks for stopping by Larry :)

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  2. Great post! Sometimes I get into my "But I just want everyone to love me! Is that so much to ask?" mindset and it's hard to remember just how subjective reading is.

    I can't remember which author it was who said that when you get a bad review, remember that some people hate puppies. If even adorable puppies aren't universally loved, then of course someone out there is going to find a way to hate your book. I feel like this made more sense the way the other person said it.

    Also, your blog is awesome and I've just been wandering around reading your past posts.

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    1. Hey Jennifer. Thanks so much for stopping by and thanks for your kind comments about my blog. Hopefully you'll find some posts helpful.

      It's so easy to fall into the "everyone please love me!" trap. I have to really fight it some days. Thanks for your "some people hate puppies" analogy. That's really cool. I must remember that one.

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  3. Great post, Melissa! I think it's so hard to handle bad reviews because we put so much effort into writing that it's like we've put a piece of our soul on the page, so a bad review is like a personal rejection. But, like you said, it's not.

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    1. That is so true, Connie. That's why we need a touch skin.

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  4. Coping with negative reviews isn't easy. I think when you publish something, you have to release ownership of it. It's no longer completely yours, for it belongs to the readers as well, and you can't please all of them all the time. You have to accept that the work was as good as you could make it at the time and focus on your current project.

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    1. I totally agree. I've tried to explain the whole ownership thing to people at times. When I publish I do feel as though the book doesn't belong to me anymore. They don't always understand it.

      You have summed it up perfectly. Thanks, Sandra.

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  5. So far, the worst review I've gotten was because I didn't have an epilogue. I thought it was funny actually.

    Hugs and chocolate,
    Shelly

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    1. Haha. Thanks, Shelly. Yes - I have laughed at a few bad reviews too. People can pick up on the strangest things sometimes.

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  6. You're right, you do need a thick skin to be an author. My first bad review devastated me... I even considered packing it in. But then I realised (with the help of some awesome author pals), that it was just one opinion. Yes, this person was downright nasty but then that review just showed the kind of person she was. All the other 5 star reviews showed what my books were really like :D

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    1. Exactly. At the end of the day, they are all just opinions :) You're awesome, Suzy.

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