This is a topic that came up recently in a discussion with some other writers and I felt that it was something I needed to talk about on my own website. When one ventures into the world of publishing they will be subject to all sorts of feedback, reviews, criticisms and so on. These can be gut wrenching at times for any author, but these are all necessary for growth. I’ve heard everything from “I ignore reviews and comments.” to “It takes me time to be able to deal with the feedback I’ve received before I can get my emotions in check.”
The first comment is an insult to your readers. Any writer that deludes themselves into thinking that ignoring reviews and the comments of their readers needs to take a good, long look in the mirror. What you see in there is going to be your worst enemy. Nobody is a perfect writer; everyone makes mistakes. There’s always a scene or a character that you could have done better. By blowing off your readers you’re living in a fantasy world of lollipops and rainbows that only exists in your head. It’s not fair to your readers and you’re doing yourself an injustice as a result. While the comments of your readers may not always be accurate, and there are always some that are very unjustified, the only way you can truly improve as a writer is if you accept their comments and try to better yourself. Do I always apply what a reviewer or commenter has to say? Of course not. However, I do at least take their comments into consideration and if I notice a certain pattern in the comments I receive then I know what I need to work on for the next book.
As for the latter comment, well, it’s important to be professional as an author. Your name is stamped all over your writing and you’re a very public facing figure. Most authors utilize numerous social media outlets in order to get their names out there. You have to be prepared, emotionally, for receiving harsh feedback. Whether you’re walking out in public, at a book signing, attending an event, or simply interacting with readers online, you need to be able to hold your emotions in check. If receiving a harsh critique of your writing sends you into a puddle of despair or instantly catapults you into a fit of rage then you need to get your emotions in check. If you do not, then you will find yourself unprepared for when you are put into a situation that brings out these emotions in you.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep yourself in check. I’ve seen numerous occasions online where an author, or someone the author knows, lashes out at a bad review. Or one author attacks another author. I’ve even seen a case where one author rallied their Facebook followers in order to attack someone that left a 1 star review on their novel on Amazon. There’s certainly no shortage of people that have no restraints when it comes to their work. Sinking into this pit is a good way to get yourself blacklisted on the internet. Once you’ve earned yourself a poor reputation then you’ll find reviewers refusing to read or write about your books, readers will revolt and stop purchasing your work, and the backlash of the internet will continue to hound you all the way into the Twitterverse and beyond.
So, don’t ignore your readers. Toughen yourself up and learn how to take both the good and the bad rather than just the good. Climb out of the fantasy world you’ve built around yourself and learn to embrace rather than flee from reality. Letting yourself get discouraged over a bad review or poor sales is no excuse to flee from your readers.
If you heed this advice you can focus on writing with peace of mind. If not and you continue down the path you’re on, well, it will only be a matter of time until you find yourself the center of attention in the midst of a spat with a reader, reviewer or another author. Take some deep breaths and think carefully before you leap off that cliff.