Before the whole paid reviews thing popped in the NYT a few weeks ago I fully intended to write a post about reviews that was geared more to how I cope with them.
Reviews are great. I love em when they are good. I try to learn from them when they are poor.
I knew getting into this that what I write is for not for everyone. As I understand, comedy was always hard to sell to publishers because humor is so subjective that they couldn’t be certain it would find a market.
I love to hear that people laughed out loud when they read my stories. I love to hear that it brightened their day. That it helped them escape for a little while and just enjoy themselves. That’s all I’ve ever tried to accomplish. I’m not going for any awards. I don’t want to be recognized as some great literary talent. I just want to make people happy.
That’s why bad reviews used to sting. I didn’t make them happy. I try to take away lessons from one-star reviews. But here’s the thing, they usually aren’t very constructive. Almost exclusively, they have been posted just so the reviewer can let everyone know that they are not happy and that everyone who liked the story was stupid.
Believe me. I can take criticism. After years in advertising, I’ve got a pretty thick skin and, I’m open to learning from it. But so far all I’ve really learned is that some people are grumps. Some people are whiny. And some people are contrarians.
Of course, I knew this before. I had met people. But, I took the unhappy reviews a little too seriously at first. They’d put me in a funk.
Then I started to learn more. People that rated me poorly literally put me in the same category as Catch-22 and George Carlin. One reviewers profile said they liked to find books people liked and dog on them. Others rated nothing above a 1 or 2 which lead me to believe that they were really bad at picking out books for themselves. Some folks had a list of exclusively literary and classic novels rated at 5-stars and then said Dumb White Husband sucked. Well, duh.
Oddly enough, most of my 1-star reviews come after I’ve given the book away for free. So these people are indeed the same ones that complain about free beer at parties and complain that you ordered the pizza they didn’t like for the office lunch. You know? Dickwads.
Bad reviews are going to happen. If one is constructive, you should learn from it and take the feedback into consideration. But, you should also know by now that some people are just big, dumb, mean jerks that want to let the world know that they disagree with everybody. They have a right to their opinion and you have every right to ignore it. Don’t let it ruin your day(s).