I’m not going to lie. When you're an author, negative reviews of your book hurt. Like really bad. Imagine being stabbed repeatedly in the chest, then having an Army tank run you over, only to be followed by a stray dog peeing in your face. That's maybe a small glimpse into how it feels.
Today I came across some negative reviews left for a book written by a Twitter friend of mine who is extremely nice and kindhearted. While I haven't read her book myself, I was appalled to read through the overly harsh comments left by these bloggers on Goodreads. And I felt inspired to explain why I think this is totally uncalled for.
As writers, we spend months pouring our heart and soul into these stories, creating these characters and the worlds they live in from nothing more than the darkest corners of our imaginations. Then we take this precious story we've created and release it to the wild, kind of the way a mother has to send her child to his first day of kindergarten. And we're just ordinary people, like everyone else. So of course it hurts when you use dramatic GIFs and foul language to describe just how much you hated our books. Probably the most ironic part about all of this is the fact that most writers I know are emotional creatures, often even socially introverted. Many of us have a hard time putting ourselves out there to begin with. And we're known to take things to heart.
Before I published my first novel, I didn't fully appreciate this concept. While I've always tried to be a fairly positive person and don't believe in putting others down, I sometimes gave out 2 star reviews to books I really didn't like. Now, as I stand in the awkward and sometimes ill-fitting shoes that writers are forced to wear, I understand just what an impact negative reviews can have. If I really can't stand a book, I will just decline to review it.
Many bloggers I've contacted state on their website that they won't tear a book apart and if they didn't enjoy it that they will do their best to point out the positive aspects, knowing everyone doesn't have the same tastes. This is so true. That's the most frustrating part about negative reviews - just because Joe Blow thought a book was stupid and tacky doesn't mean his 60 year old mother whose basement he's living in won't thoroughly enjoy it.
Next time you leave feedback on a book you've read, please keep in mind (whether you personally know the author or not) that they're just regular people trying to make a living doing something they really enjoy. It's not necessary to put down the author and go on a rampage that tears their books to shreds. And to my fellow authors who have to endure the sometimes immature comments left by people who either don't know or don't care that they're talking about a real person who put gallons of blood and sweat into their work, just remember:
Thankfully, we live in a diverse world where there sill are people who are more interested in sharing the love than spreading the hate.