She Warned Me…


She knows the publishing business. And before the book came out, she said, “Don’t read the reviews.” And then she wrote, “DON’T READ THE REVIEWS.” 

It’s strange. Out of the twenty or so short stories I’ve published, I’ve never had the desire to look for reviews. I was just happy my story was out there. But when my own novel came out, it was a different kettle of opinions altogether. Did people like it? Did they hate it? Part of me wanted to know. Part of me really didn’t. 

Why did my friend tell me not to read the reviews? 

Because you can’t please everyone. Because sometimes people want to be mean because they think it makes them look like reviewers to take seriously. Because sometimes people are simply cruel. Because sometimes they aren’t cruel, but they’re terribly honest, and that can still hurt. Because many seem to forget there’s a real person behind that book, who is devastated by a one star review that tears apart their work. Because for all the good ones, there’s a bad one that sticks to you like old gum.

Because you must have thick skin, and mine is like wet tracing paper. 

But still…I knew a particular writing magazine had reviewed it. So I promised myself I would only look at that one…

They shredded my book. They got some things so wrong I’m not actually sure they read it, or if they thought it was a different book entirely. 

I didn’t write again for over a month. I know it’s one person’s opinion, as all reviews are. And three months later I’m writing again, though it shook my confidence and humbled me to my alphabetic roots. My friend was right. 

Don’t read the reviews. Write because you love to write and want your story out in the world. Get better with every book. Work at it. Leave the opinions of your book to the other folks who want to read their opinions. 

She warned me. 

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5 thoughts on “She Warned Me…

  1. For the magazine that shredded you; I’d take what they say and take it apart piece by piece and reply to them to redress the balance. You state sounds like they didn’t even read it; then address it! You are better than what “they” out there say! If they are so ”good at what they do” then why is it they are not writing books! Books are different from magazines. Reading material none the less. However, that is my opinion. I wouldn’t let them get away with that. Yeah you are right you can’t please all the people all of the time but how dare they ‘shred you’ if they don’t know about you if not read the book! You write, you’re creative. Be you irrelevant of some poxy magazine review. But address the facts not fiction. FACT: they gave you a terrible review. Address it. FICTION:their review of your book having not read it!

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  2. I know you know I’ve never published a novel. So I don’t know what that would actually feel like — getting a negative review that seems unjust in a number of ways. Mostly I’ve read numerous reviews about books that I’ve read. (Books by both new authors and my favorite authors). So this is more from a reader than a published writer. And everything I’m about to say is probably redundant because YOU know all this…but just to offer my support and share my thoughts with your other blog readers, who may be new or aspiring authors.

    First, don’t let a reviewer bate you into “defending” yourself or your work, regardless of whether they are “professionals” or fall into the reader or customer review categories. Your work is to stand alone. It is presented as a work of fiction, and therefore does not need to be defended. It is suppose to entertain and be enjoyed, most readers will enjoy it and recommend it.

    A biased and unjustified review will be easily identified by the reading community and will not reflect on your abilities, it will only reflect the reviewer’s ignorance and/or pettiness.

    Second, many reviewers are clearly readers that judge every book they read against what they like regardless of anything else. It is like a person that loves cozy cottage murders might give PD James, Patricia Cornwall, or Kathy Reichs a negative review because their stories are too bloody or go into too much detail about the gory side of things. Some of these reviewers don’t understand literary conventions or even differences between the genres or subgenres. Again, educated or aware readers will spot this in the review and weigh the post or review accordingly.

    Third, I understand insecurity and being worried about the quality of your work, but ask yourself: Do you trust your team and the knowledge they hold? (Team being — your publisher, your editor or editors, your beta reader or readers?) If you trust them at all, trust that they would not let a rubbish novel through their gates.

    Fourth, an unjust review could be rooted in anything — even the possibility that you took the last piece of cake at some special function or refused some request in the past. Again, that is a reflection of their pettiness not of your novel’s quality.

    Lastly, if a reviewer ever picks up on an “error” you made and everyone missed, like Yogi Berra said, “if the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.” Viva la fallas! It allows room for improvement.

    Keep your chin up and your words flowing.
    XX ❤

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