Sunday, January 13, 2013

Writers Are People Too. No, Really.

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.


Jaclyn Canada said...

I have read some that I would give 2 stars to that I refuse to review. As a matter of fact, I will be contacting someone shortly to let them know that I don't want to publish a review for this reason. I'm not a writer, but I am a graphic artist, and as such I hear tear-downs and positive feedback of my work all the time. EVERYONE has a different opinion. Some will love what I made, and some will say nuh-uh. I agree that you should always keep positives in reviews as well as negatives because there will be people who enjoy certain things. I know there are aspects about a story that make me love it that will make others dislike it. Great post! Jaclyn @ JC's Book Haven

J.A. Ward said...

This was a great post Jen. I know that is one of my biggest fears for when I am done. One of my favorite authors ever wrote once in her blog how the first review EVER (of like a random person in the public on Goodreads) was very negative and the book series went on to be a best selling series. So I know there will be Negative Nancy's out there even if the majority of people like my story. I will just try to avoid reading them and STAY POSITIVE that there are still so many sensitive and good people out there like yourself :)

LTM said...

Great post, Jen! I'm like you now that I'm publishing books of my own, if I can't give at least 4 stars, I don't review a book. At the same time, I read an interesting post about how negative reviews can actually HELP authors, in that it's highly unlikely EVERYONE is going to love your book. It can be a good thing to have a few lower-starred reviews so it doesn't look "padded."

It doesn't take the sting away, but maybe a little positive spin? *hugs* <3

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