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Authors: How to cope with bad reviews?

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Kind of a crazy discussion that came to mind... So, authors--bad reviews, everyone will get one sooner or later, 'cause no one can write something that everyone will be able to agree on. So, the ugly question to start this discussion is, would you rather have a bad review later or sooner? If you've not recieved one yet, how do you plan to respond? For those of you that have, how did you cope? Here's where you can dicuss such unpleasantness and game plans with both fellow authors, authors-to-be, and readers.


message 2: by S.M. (new)

S.M. McEachern (SMMcEachern) | 14 comments Okay, I'll bite...

Not that I've had a bad review - they've all been 4 and 5 stars (shameless self promotion, I know), but I expect at some point I will. How will I deal with it? Well besides drinking copious amounts of wine to put myself into a blissful, mind numbing stupor, I will reluctantly explore the possibility that someone on this planet of 6 billion people may not like my novel... and then I will get over it.

Criticism can be constructive, particularly if a writer notices a common thread among bad reviews. Respond by improving your writing. However, in the case of receiving a bad review in the midst of several good reviews, I don't think there's a need to respond.


message 3: by [deleted user] (last edited Nov 27, 2012 07:33AM) (new)

LOL!

I agree with you about not responding personally to bad reviews, it seems to me like the most professional approach.

I've not published my work yet (it's due to come out "soon" - I was supposed to get it out this past October, but that didn't work out). I kind of look forward to bad reviews--strange as that is to say. I mean, I've worked so long and so hard, studying every aspect of storytelling and the publishing process (I kid you not--ever heard of "said bookisms"? I hadn't until sometime last year, and all of the for and against that comes with it *laugh*). I want to present my work and see how it is received, what I missed, and so on. The way I see it, it's part of the "sport" of writing--like any sports injury, it may not be pretty, perhaps, but it's still something of a rite of passage. Plus, I must admit, I've dished out some pretty harsh critiques myself... I know there are some people out there who just can't wait to light into me, and I actually want to afford them that chance - it's only fair! *laugh*

Maybe we should all take comfort in the fact that even classics, the greats, and bestsellers get 1-star reviews. It's all in the person's personal taste. Even professional critics disagree about the quality of a work oftentimes. Storytelling is an art in its own right; as long as there is a group that understands the message (and there's bound to be at least one), who can say what is the right way to write?

However, even saying that, I admit I do have a problem as a critic. I get too passionate, I think. Whereas from an artistic standpoint the story can be great, I tend to focus heavily on the technical execution and the grammar involved--but, most importantly, the characters... For me to thoroughly enjoy a story, all of the characters--protagonists, antagonists, and supporting roles alike--have to be well rounded and human. Nobody can be too perfect or too imperfect. That's my biggest pet peeve, and one I've noticed a lot of writers (including myself when I first started out) struggle with. People want their protagonists to be likeable, so they make them as perfect as possible, and their antagonists to be dislikeable, so they're dripping with evil and not human in any way. Most side characters are props. I personally can't stand that. I prefer the deep, satisfying drama of being able to relate in some way to everyone in the story, even the villains sometimes. I'm weird though. And a lot of the books I haven't liked very much have been bestsellers to boot, so I must be a black sheep! *laugh*


message 4: by Rupali (last edited Nov 27, 2012 10:00AM) (new)

Rupali Rotti | 16 comments As eager I was to have a bad review, I must admit that when it came, I didn't react well - though I'd read what should be done when such things happen.

I've just started out as an author and my first book has just been published. Most of the the feedbacks that I received told me what was good about my work (the story & the characters), and what could be improved (grammar & page-design). This I received pretty well...

But then came this review where the reader never mentioned what she didn't like about my book, only suggested everybody not to read it with some extreme feelings. And this review was the 4th of my book reviews ever! I didn't react for a few days until I found out that her review was receiving a lot of attention, though it wasn't telling 'what' was so wrong about my work. I found out that she was a friend of a friend, and I made the mistake of assuming that I could talk to her as a friend.

I told her it was perfectly alright with me if she kept a negative feedback on various sites online, but requested if she could only mention the specific things she didn't like, so I could improve, and the prospective readers could know what to expect and then would make an informed decision. But as soon as she received my message, she realized that I was a human being as well, and that her review probably hurt my feelings. So, she apologized and removed the negative review from all the sites! I kept on telling her that she needn't feel bad about voicing her true opinion, but if only she could tell me what could be improved, I would be grateful to her.

But she remained quiet - never reverted. Now I think I shouldn't have communicated with her at all - I scared her away. But this experience tells me one important thing: Most of the people consider the writers/actors/any other celebrity as virtual/imaginary; not a living, breathing human being who also has feelings of his/her own. But they aren't bad people who are against you or want to harm you on purpose. They are just people who don't know you personally.


message 5: by Cassandra (last edited Nov 27, 2012 09:39AM) (new)

Cassandra Giovanni | 6 comments But this experience tells me one important thing: Most of the people consider the writers/actors/any other celebrity as virtual/imaginary; not a living, breathing human being who also has feelings of his/her own. But they aren't bad people who are against you or want to harm you on purpose. They are just people who don't know you personally.
Agreed, but some still don't.
I believe that a review will show whether or not it has merit. I try not to take it personally, even when I've had one that was a personal attack.
Books are art and not everyone likes the same thing. I've used my experience to better my own review systems. I try to keep in mind I don't know the persons attachment to the story, or the reason they wrote it.


message 6: by S.M. (new)

S.M. McEachern (SMMcEachern) | 14 comments Destyni wrote: "LOL!

I agree with you about not responding personally to bad reviews, it seems to me like the most professional approach.

I've not published my work yet (it's due to come out "soon" - I was supp..."

Are you self publishing? I did. I just published late last September and a lot of my time is now taken up with marketing. I had no idea there would be so much involved with marketing! But the reviews make it all worth while. I'm still waiting for that bad review - and it's going to come - and then I'll know I've made it to the big leagues. Even J.K. Rowlings has a few one star reviews ;)

I totally agree with character building! My goal was to create "real" characters and hopefully I succeeded. I'm concentrating just as much on that goal in the second book. I find I'm getting a little better at it the more I write. For me that is the key to becoming a better writer - write as often as I can and take heed of the reviews. I've even started a thread on a different group to feel people out about an aspect of my plot in book 2.

Keep me posted on when your book comes out!


message 7: by S.M. (new)

S.M. McEachern (SMMcEachern) | 14 comments Rupali wrote: "As eager I was to have a bad review, I must admit that when it came, I didn't react well - though I'd read what should be done when such things happen.

I've just started out as an author and my fi..."


If I were you, I would be happy that negative review was removed. It wasn't constructive enough to help you as a writer and it may have put off perspective readers who may otherwise have enjoyed your book. It was a blemish, pure and simple. I think you're right about a bad review being constructive - it can help a writer correct bad habits and/or refine a faulty plot. These reviews are helpful.


message 8: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 01, 2012 08:40AM) (new)

Rupali wrote: "But this experience tells me one important thing: Most of the people consider the writers/actors/any other celebrity as virtual/imaginary; ..."

Aye. I felt really bad after my first review here on Goodreads... it wasn't a good one, and it wasn't recieved very well at all. I hadn't expected the author to see it or even care since everyone else seemed to really love his book, but myeh. I didn't take it down though... it was my honest opinion. I was too blunt, I guess. It probably didn't help that I was his first 1-star, either, but I really didn't mean to hurt his feelings.

Cassandra wrote: "I believe that a review will show whether or not it has merit."

I agree.

"I try not to take it personally, even when I've had one that was a personal attack..."

Yikes! I'm sorry that happened to you! Unfortunately, there are a lot of bitter, lonely people out there who berate a book/author simply because they're hurting personally. This is particularly true in the Romance genre, I've noticed =(

S.M. wrote: "Are you self publishing? I did. I just published late last September and a lot of my time is now taken up with marketing. I had no idea there would be so much involved with..."

Yep! I decided early on that the traditional route wouldn't provide me the creative freedom I wanted, so even before I started writing I worked on trying to figure out how to self-publish. Kinda like an independant film-maker, I just don't want to have a higher-up telling me what scenes to cut or what will and won't sell. Granted, higher-ups have more experience on that sort of thing, but I'm not really writing to make a product. It'd be nice if it sold, I guess, but my main focus is sharing something I've always loved with others =) Why did you decide to self-publish?

I sure will! Do you like science-fiction/fantasy? That's kinda the genre of my book. I'm toying with calling it a science-fantasy, but I hear there's a little debate on whether or not that's an actual genre... and in any case, I'm still not sure if my story fits it. The main setting is a planet that is not Earth, and has no connection to Earth. There are two species who may have originated there (humans and horses), but they've been living and dying on my planet so long they might as well be native - in excess of several thousands of years. I've done tons of research to make sure the technology, creatures, and weather patterns on this planet make sense--maybe I overthink it too much *laugh* So, in that, it *could* classify as a sci-fi. However, there are other elements, unexplained phenomenons called "magic" and "demons" by the characters, that could easily place it in the fantasy genre as well.

It's going to be something of an epic; the adventure is on the grand scale and there are a lot of characters involved. This is the first book of several I have planned. My sisters and I came up with the world when we were really little, and have "played" its stories ever since - yes, even into adulthood ;)

Anyway, it'll be interesting to see how it's received *laugh*


message 9: by Rupali (new)

Rupali Rotti | 16 comments Guys, there's a giveaway of my book, The Valentine's Day Clue (Nayak Brothers, #1) by Rupali Rajopadhye Rotti, and I'd like that the people I know also enter to win. I'd love that one of you wins. The giveaway is open on goodreads till 15th Jan 2013. P.S.: It's a detective adventure thriller.


message 10: by Rupali (new)

Rupali Rotti | 16 comments I'm giving away my book again, The Valentine's Day Clue (Nayak Brothers, #1) by Rupali Rajopadhye Rotti The Valentine's Day Clue, on goodreads from 1st Feb to 28th Feb, 2013.

Look at what a few readers have said about it so far:

"The author has created few characters that are so true to life. The protagonists – the brothers are young and lively. Their aspirations and enthusiasm reminded me of myself at that age (it wasn’t too long ago) very much and that’s what is the USP of this book. Whenever we read a mystery, the protagonist always seems so larger than life either with their detection skills or with their action scenes. I mean if we really had a Poirot, a Sherlock Holmes or a Jack Reacher, then there would be fewer criminals roaming around free. Nayak brothers are not larger than life – in fact they are just amateurs often stumbling on their way. It is their optimistic and ‘never give up’ attitude that makes them so likeable. They grow through their experiences. The plot, in general, is a simple one for hardcore mystery lovers like me, but it was one that an amateur pair could handle." -- Debdatta Dasgupta Sahay

"It takes you to your college days when you dream to pursue your passion as a profession. Here, it’s a story of two young brothers and budding detectives who go through a series of dangerous yet thrilling events while working on their first case ever." -- Sandeep Undale


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