For an author, bad reviews are just part of the job. Nobody likes them, but no one can escape them either. The first time I got a bad review, I felt as if someone had punched me in the stomach. No, scratch that, it felt worst. There was a sense of emptiness inside I couldn’t explain. This void would typically last all too briefly. I usually shrug it off after a goodnight sleep and then it’s business as usual. But there was a particular one that was hard to stomach.
In an attempt to put this particular bad review in perspective, I started reading reviews of works I admire. Sure enough, even works that are considered classics have failed to click with certain readers and critics. Suddenly, I didn’t feel as bad. It was as if those authors were telling me, “Don’t worry, kid. It comes with the territory.” This prompted me to search reviews for books I downright disliked. Lo and behold, my literary anathemas had received glowing praise from layman and expert alike. I laughed out loud. This actually made me feel even better about my little speed bump. Art, just like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. This brings me to another point.
A negative critique sucks, but I find unfounded bad reviews very upsetting. It’s OK if a person doesn’t like the work, but to make claims that fly in the face of what’s on the page is just unprofessional and a sign of sloppy assessment. I even understand when the comment comes from the lack of knowledge of the source material. After all, I spent a great deal of time researching my manuscript, so the information I’ve managed to amass far exceeds the average enthusiast. Those critiques I disregard from the get go. A reviewer might not be an expert on a certain topic, but if they are just going to skim through my work and offer a biased opinion, why should I take them seriously?
Luckily for me, bad reviews have been the exception rather than the rule (I perennially keep my fingers crossed). Yet, I wanted to share my thoughts and coping mechanisms with my fellow writers. I’m sure there are as many ways of dealing with bad reviews as there are artists. If anything, I hope you find this amusing.
Keep on running!