It seems there has been a lot of drama going around the blogging world lately.
Normally, I don't post about heated topics. I'm highly allergic to drama and angst (Except in stories, of course), and I learned long ago that you really can't change people's minds about anything, so why point that spotlight on yourself? But, in light of the recent author/blogger drama on twitter and facebook, I felt compelled to add my two cents to the mix. So, this is my own opinion, garnered from the years I've spent as a writing professional, on Authors and Negative Reviews. Future authors and writers, this is especially for you, not to scare or scold or threaten, but just as a gentle caution of what to expect.
NOT EVERYONE WILL LIKE YOUR BOOK. This is a certainty. No matter how compelling, no matter how innovative or brilliant or well-written, no book can please everyone one hundred percent. If you don't believe me, find your favorite book or author and check them out on Goodreads. They will have 1 and 2 star reviews, just like everyone else. Some people will adore your book, some people will just think its okay, and some people will loathe it and want to burn it and scour your name from the face of the earth for writing such garbage. And it's okay for them to think that. They are entitled to their opinion. Really, that's all a review IS: an opinion. Which brings us to the heart of this matter...
YOU ARE GOING TO GET NEGATIVE REVIEWS. If you are an author, and you put your book out there for the world to read, you are going to get bad reviews. Sometimes, the review will be thoughtful and well-done, with the reviewer citing what they liked and didn't like about the story. That's the best kind of negative review, but it doesn't always happen that way. Sometimes the review will be snide and hateful, as if the reader despises you personally and says all kinds of ugly, unkind things about the story you've put your heart and soul into. Its amazing the things people will say on the internet that they wouldn't dare say in real life, but it happens. This is why many authors I've spoken to stay far, far away from Goodreads. Because Goodreads is brutal on authors, and some of us would rather not know. So, now that you can expect at least one negative critique of your book, how does one respond to such a review? What should an author do in the face of such bad press?
Let me say that again. NOTHING.
At the very, very least, you can email or post a comment thanking that reviewer for their time in reading and reviewing your book. Then you go and rant to your best friend, or your hubby, or your dog. You do not take out your hurt and frustration on the reviewer. You do not leave a comment on their blog, defending yourself and your book. You do not tell them how wrong they are, and that they must have misunderstood your writing, and that everyone before them has given your book steller reviews. Because it doesn't matter. You aren't going to change their opinion--again with that word OPINION--and you are only hurting yourself and your career by acting in such an unprofessional manner.
Yes, I know. Negative reviews hurt. They downright suck. Believe me, I've gotten more then my share, and its not fun reading "Julie Kagawa, you give fairies a bad name." (Actual review.) I know your book is your greatest achievement, and that you've come far and struggled so hard to get it published, and you should be very proud of that. I know its hard when you wrote the best story you could, went through all the heartache and uncertainty of getting it published, only to have a virtual stranger put it down like its nothing, like we don't have feelings and it doesn't tear us apart every time someone is cruel. I know its unfair that we can't defend ourselves.
But that's the world of authors and reviewers, and the only classy way to respond to bad reviews is graciously or not at all.
Thankfully, there are many out there who will love your book and your stories, and those reviews will be wonderful and glowing and make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But, if you are to swim these treacherous waters of authordom, you must also be prepared to lose a little blood, as well. This is just fair warning, take it from someone who knows, and start working on that thick skin. And a sense of humor can help tremendously.
So that's my two cents on authors and negative reviews. Comments and discussions are welcome. However, any mean, ugly, or hateful comments will be eaten by the gremlins.