No matter how you slice it, reading criticism of your beloved book is hard. Especially when it’s your first book, and a critique can feel like a personal assault on your child.
I get it. As I prepared to read the first public reviews of my debut novel, The Apollo Illusion, I mentally put up my “wall.” I’ve been a journalist and professional writer for 12 years now, and I became an expert at letting naysayers be naysayers.
But reading criticism of my first novel as a published author—as a creative writer—was a whole different universe I wasn’t prepared for (even though I thought I was).
You will undoubtedly LOVE some of the reviews you receive. You’ll share them on social media, on your blog, in your newsletter, or in paid advertisements. However, others may feel unfair (or at least aspects of them may feel unfair). But everyone knows, as an author, it’s not your place to defend your work once it’s been published.
Judgement now becomes the public’s job.
So, how do you cope when you have to remain silent?
First of all, understand that by trying to argue with the critics, you’ll appear defensive and immature. People will think you’re thin-skinned or an unsuccessful writer who simply can’t take the heat.
In my opinion, the only time you should publicly criticize a critic, is if the critic attacks you PERSONALLY, attacks a loved one, or makes a statement that is false and slanderous (such as claiming you plagiarized your work, when you didn’t).
Here are the ways I dealt with silently swallowing some of the critiques I received:
- Realize the unfavorable or unfair review is just ONE PERSON’S opinion. And people are entitled to their own opinions, right? As writers, we thrive on freedom of speech and expression of ideas. It’s all part of the dialogue.
- The copyright of your work belongs to you, but the judgement of your book belongs to the readers. It’s the next stage in the creative process, and you have to understand that YOU DON’T OWN THIS. So let it go.
- You will probably receive far more positive reviews than negative reviews, so concentrate on the trends! I know this has been true for me with The Apollo Illusion. When I look at the big picture, I realize that overall, people liked my book far more than they disliked it.
- You cannot please everyone. What one person loves, another person will hate. Your reviews will reflect this, so try not to take them personally. What matters is that you stuck to YOUR vision when writing your book.
- It takes time to build the emotional barrier against critiques of your work. If you’re on your first or second book, be patient. With time comes experience, and with experience comes expertise. I know that I need to give myself more time to get better at “not caring” what others say about my creative work.
If all else fails, you can always decide to just not read the reviews of your book!
**As a writer or author who has dealt with critics, what would YOU add to this list? Comment below, and don’t forget to share!**
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