Having a spin through the internet, I came upon a review of a newly released book. It was, IMHO, a well-balance, well thought out review that went into a great deal more detail than many other reviews do. No, it wasn’t all complimentary. In fact it was decidedly mixed. Instead of leaving well enough alone, the author chose to jump to her own defence.
Now, all authors repeat after me:
I WILL NOT COMMENT ON BAD REVIEWS.
You can’t be a part of the writing world without someone telling you, overtly or indirectly, that you’re doing something wrong. It’s not only human nature, but a product of the fact we are all different people. Books that I have liked have been horribly panned by reviewers; others I thought were a pile of s**t were lauded to the sky. Reviews are, by their nature, subjective. Besides which, each of us have ready-formed likes, dislikes and pet-aversions. One man’s meat is another’s poison and all that crap. Accepting that will lead to a happier, healthier life and public image.
The author in the case I’m talking about ended up looking like a jackass…
When a reviewer says she/he didn’t like a book we’ve written, or gives a so-so review, what should we do? Best bet, I think, is to get off the internet, turn off your computer. Go for a walk, scream cry and pout if you like, but in the privacy of your own home. This does not include pouting on your blog, which is the equivalent of undressing in your unfenced front yard. Do whatever you need to release the tension—anything but reply! Perhaps a restrained, “Thank you for your review” is appropriate but anything more can only make a bad situation worse.
Believe me, I know the urge to strike back. I know it well, and very, very personally. Even now, writing this post, I have to hold back from giving voice to a rebuttal aimed at a reviewer’s comment concerning something in The Pearl at the Gate. “I can use it as an illustration of how reviewer’s prejudices can unnecessarily colour their comments,” that little must-always-be-right voice whispers in my ear.
Get thee behind me, thou feelings of being unnecessarily put-upon.
I still think that comment was ridiculous. I still want to shout it out to the world and say, ‘Everyone, back me on this. Is this or is this not the most asinine reasoning, ever???’
But I won’t.
Why? Am I chicken-shit?
Maybe…but I also have a well developed sense of self-preservation.
And a louder voice is reminding me that everyone has a right, in my world anyway, to their own opinion.
Very important, that.