Alright, full disclosure here: I received a ‘bad’ review recently for my debut novel. It’s been stewing in my gut for about a month now and I feel I am finally able to deal with it properly. There has been a lot going on emotionally in my life and household for the past month as well, so I did not feel adequately equipped to handle this issue. Until now.
Now, I have heard the warnings before: don’t always expect everyone to love your work, don’t be surprised if someone just doesn’t like it. You need to have a thick skin to publish a book. And never ask for a review unless you can handle what you might get back. Well, I did not ask for this one, it was unsolicited. And so far, all my reviews, requested or not, have been glowing and full of praise. I have been sunbathing in the loving rays of warm reviews. Until now.
Admittedly, when I read the review about a month ago, I was shocked, and hurt. But I took it a few steps further. First, I took a deep breath and reminded myself of the truths mentioned above. Okay, this might not be the first unfavorable review I will ever receive, though I certainly hope it is. Then I read it a little more carefully, seeing what is was that the reader did not like. Was it a particular thing, like dialogue or setting or something like that? Character names? Or was it a case of a book that did not live up to its initial promise? I have to agree I have read books before, enthralled initially and found they just did not live up to my expectations. It happens, not every book is for every reader. Those are the ones I donate to Good Will when I finish with them, instead of instilling them on my library shelves.
What surprised me with this was the misconceptions made by the reader. Now, I have a family member who is famous for misunderstanding information and then later giving out incorrect or misleading information. It happens probably within all families I guess. And so it has happened here with my book. I wanted so badly to respond, to correct the misconceptions made by the reader. But I refrained. Why? Probably due to the other issues going on within my life and home at the time and I feared what I said would come out wrong and, in turn, be taken wrong again, which I felt would only make matters worse. So I opted to remain quiet.
But I did some further research too, not able to just let an unfavorable review sit idle. This reader has only posted one other review prior to mine, and much to my surprise it was awarded an even more unfavorable, or worse, review than mine had. That made me feel a little better. Since I had not read the other book, I could not see any obvious misleading conclusions. However, now I wanted to read it, just to see for myself. Bully for the other author!
So in parting, I have reached my own conclusion, perhaps erroneously as well. Perhaps since this reader apparently cannot find a decent book to read, she (or he) ought to give it up and take up something more rewarding, like knitting or stamp collecting. Or, since writing and publishing a novel is such a simple task, perhaps the reader ought to just write her (or his) own books. Merely a thought.