Dear Authors: Your Book Might Suck. Now Chill.
Much has been said over the past couple of weeks about the subject of author meltdowns, notably, how NOT to behave when you get a bad review. You see, the latest episode occurred on Goodreads. I’m not going to go into the details because really, unless you’ve been living in a snow drift in northern Saskatchewan, you’d have heard about it by now.
These things tend to take on a life of their own, don’t they. At some point in the last few days, I’ve seen numerous Tweets and I’ve read a few blog postings where the following question was posed: who precisely are the reviews for … authors or readers?
That the question should even be posed is a bit surprising since the last time I looked, reviews are simply an opinion. We’ve had them for years, actually, when it comes to books – they used to be in the newspapers. Now I’m forty-four and want to know something? I can’t remember an author having a meltdown about a bad review in the newspaper. I could be wrong, mind you – who knows, maybe some authors did. The difference of course is that now you can have a hissy fit in a very public way thanks to the Interweb and social networking. I suspect that authors in the pre-Netscape 1.0 world had private hissy fits. Maybe they went to the pub and washed their sorrows away with beer and whiskey. Maybe they’d start a fist fight and wind up with a shiner, right? Because you can’t really react any other way in a pre-Interweb world, can you. You just have …. to …. suck it up, yeah?
But, see the thing that’s rubbing me the wrong way about all this is the fact that an author should be used to crummy reviews by now because if they’re published, isn’t a rejection an all-encompassing review of your work by someone in the industry? I mean, hell, some of those rejections can be pretty harsh … I’ve received a number of rejections over the years that were so harsh, in fact, that they recommended I get out of writing all together.
So. Why the hissy fits? I just don’t get it.
Perhaps one needs to be a psychologist to figure it out. What I do know is this: authors should treat reviews of their books by writing a new book. Authors should treat downright atrocious reviews of their books by writing a new book. Authors should stay out of the review zone, you know what I mean? (And I know that it’s hard because there’s just so many venues for reviews nowadays. I get that.) But come on … it’s a freaking review. You honestly can’t go into this writing gig expecting everyone to fall in love with your stuff because that’s insane, frankly. There are six billion people on the planet, the odds are that someone is going to think your book is worth less than a roll of toilet paper. That’s life. That’s how it goes.
Anyway, I’m rambling here. My point is that if you’re going to get all freaked out about bad reviews … I dunno … get some therapy to deal with your negative integer self esteem. I get bad reviews … I read them sometimes and sometimes I don’t. Whatever. As well, I would counsel that author to think about restaurant reviews … which, by the way, can be BRUTAL. Absolutely BRUTAL. I’d also counsel them never to open a Bistro until they get their anger management issues sorted out.
Hmmmm …. I’ll close by pointing out that it’s easy for people to jump on a dogpile. So authors, don’t be the dog in that dogpile. Just say no to freaking out.
Okay…. have a good one, yeah? I’m off to read some Laurell K Hamilton reviews on Amazon.