When I first realized I wanted to be an author, I found that I was easily overwhelmed by the extreme learning curve I had before me. And it wasn’t just stuff you had to learn, but also execute every day after that. To keep from getting ulcers (jury is still out on that) I told myself that if I could just learn one new thing a day, I would be okay and I wouldn’t get so stressed out that I wanted to quit.
Well, that kind of worked. Ha! But I thought I would share some of the things I learned along the way on this blog.
Sh!t I Learned Today: Bad Reviews and Kathleen Hale
Okay, fellow authors, I’m going to ask you to put on your superhero cape, because this post is likely impossible.
Bad reviews. We all get them right? I mean, it’s the nature of the beast. Not everyone is going to love what you write. You shouldn’t strive for everyone to like your book. Cause that’s just madness. So how do you deal with the bad reviews?
I’m sure a lot of y’all have heard about the Kathleen Hale Guardian article about her “lightly stalking” a person who left her a one-star review. If not, you can check it out here. It’s caused quite a stir in the blogging/author community. Now whether or not this reviewer was a troll or whatever, is besides the point. And whether or not Hale is off her rocker is another point.
Neither are points I’m going to be making in this post.
The point I will be making is that you shouldn’t read bad reviews. Or if you do, you should have your superhero cape on.
I read most of my Amazon reviews, because Amazon is where I sale most of my books. I want to make sure I’m seeing what potential customers are seeing. As an author, really the only control you have over reviews on Amazon is clicking them as “helpful” or “not helpful.”
I think it goes without saying that you should never, ever comment on a review, right? Never do it.
So while I do read Amazon reviews, I normally avoid the one-star or two-star reviews. I only read them if I know I’m having a good day or if I know I won’t care. I read them with the mindset of laughing at myself. A recent bad review said that the main character in my End of Days series was a weak, whinny person. When I read that review, I laughed. Because I was like, ‘you know what? Michaela kinda was a total twat.’ She had weak, whinny moments. She was never an easy character to write. So, I agreed with the bad reviewer and I could laugh at myself and Michaela.
Do I love Michaela? Yes. Did I write her to having weak moments where she breaks down and loses it? Yes. I wanted her to be real and honest even though she was Heaven’s General. She struggles. And I liked that struggle.
But I still totally get that she can be a twat. So hahahhahahahahaha bad review. I agree.
You keep the power over the bad reviews if you let yourself laugh about them.
Now on to Goodreads.
The only time I ever read reviews on Goodreads is if one of my beta readers posted a review over there for a book not released yet. Other than that, I never, ever, ever read reviews on Goodreads.
I feel like some people are a little harsher over there, and they post reviews that they would never post on Amazon. I also think Goodreads is a mine field for trolls and assholes.
As a reader, I love Goodreads. I love marking my progress on books I’m reading. And listing these books as ‘read’ and those books as ‘to read.’ It makes my inner OCD self very happy.
As an author, I avoid it like the plague. I only post books on there for readers like myself to enjoy. I do not peruse it as an author. Too much bad juju.
Now, I love reviewers’ opinions. I’m really happy that they can freely post them on Amazon or Goodreads. I’m not discrediting their notions about my books or books in general. Go for it. Hate my book? Post that bad review.
I hope you’ll agree with me here. We write to tell our stories. Primarily, we write for ourselves. Bad reviews come with the territory of telling our stories, but it’s our right as authors to not care about them. To write anyway. To tell our stories anyway.
I wish Kathleen Hale could have felt this way before she got so worked up and stalked someone. I wish trolls didn’t exist. I wish people didn’t feel the need to tear one another down.
But they do.
So our only power is to choose to overcome them or embrace them. That’s our superhero cape.
Reviews don’t define our stories. Maybe Amazon makes it seem so. So does Goodreads. But reviews are only people’s opinion about our books. We lose control of that when we publish. The only thing that defines our story is our motivation to tell it, to write it, to hopefully make someone’s day better for reading it.
Everyone else can suck it.