Getting Over Bad Reviews

I’m a noob when it comes to Goodreads, having never done much more than add to my “read” or “to read” list, so the other day I decided to really scour the site to see what it was all about. I noticed that there were a lot of stories and books published by Dreamspinner Press that had reviews, and on a whim I decided to check if anyone had left a review on the short story I published with them. There were more reviews than I expected. Unfortunately, reading through them wasn’t exactly a walk in the park.

The average rating of my story was three stars. “Okay fine,” I thought. Star ratings aren’t always accurate, particularly if there is no actual review accompanying them, so I pushed on. With growing dread, I read through each and every review posted to my story. I wouldn’t go so far as to say my story was raped… but it wasn’t pretty. (Go scope it out – some of them were downright brutal.)

A few tears and a half a bottle of wine later, I went back through the reviews to consider them in a more objective manner. Although the same information could have been delivered in a more kindly manner, I knew that what the reviewers were saying was true. They mentioned things that I hadn’t thought of during the writing process or afterward, and I have a solid list of things to avoid in the future. (In fact, part of me wondered why the story had gotten published in the first place…)

Of course I went through a few hours of “OH DEAR GOD, I should quit while I’m ahead!! I’m a terrible writer!! I’ll never be able to do this!!” But after that mess, I calmed down and tried to view it as a learning experience. I’ve got my first failure under my belt and learned to handle bad reviews and criticism early. Gotta take a deep breath and jump back into the water, despite the sharks. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the words “get used to rejection” in regards to writing, but I’m always glad for that bit of advice, especially when it comes from authors who have climbed their way to the bestseller lists. If they can work their asses off and make it to the top, I can too, right?



2 thoughts on “Getting Over Bad Reviews

  1. Every writer has been there, if that helps! Reviews can make your week or reduce you to tears. I think it’s because each piece we create is a part of ourselves, much like children. We want the world to love them as much as we do, warts and all (because, let’s face it, there is no “perfect” book). And even if you reach the pinnacle of success, you can never please everyone – it’s just human nature that there are people who just won’t appreciate your work. Take a look at your favorite books – there are ALWAYS 1 and 2 star reviews there.

    And yes, you can do it! Of course you can. But it’s okay to shed tears or be thrilled, just as well. We’re human – our emotions are part of what makes our creations so unique and precious. -Shira

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