How to Deal with Criticism After Publishing Your Book

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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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I’m Back, with Author Jessica McCann!

Hellooooo! It feels so good to be back from my blog hiatus (although I’m now posting every OTHER Thursday) … and I’m swinging into full gear with a special guest post today.

Jessica McCann is a new author who just launched her first historical fiction novel a year ago, All Different Kinds of Free. Personally, it’s on my bookshelf and I CAN’T WAIT to read it, as Jessica’s book has received raving reviews so far.

But today, she was kind enough to share some insights on reaching success as a writer and author. Not to mention, we live in the same city (Phoenix, Ariz.), so I was pumped to have Jessica write a post for Rogue Writer.

Is Your Writing Ready to Take on the World?

GUEST POST BY JESSICA MCCANN

Writing is a lot like parenting. It’s hard to know when it’s time to let go. It doesn’t matter if the writing is a magazine article query or a novel manuscript, it can be difficult to send it out into the big, bad world alone.

How do know if you’ve done all you can? How do you know if it’s ready? The short answer is, you never know for sure. That unknown can be intimidating, and it holds many people back. It locks them into the “I want to be a writer” mindset rather than letting them move into the “I am a writer” mindset.

If you’ve provided your writing offspring with unconditional love, a balanced education, steady discipline and a chance to mature, then it’s time to stare down the fear and let it go.

Love

It all begins with this, in my experience. You must love your writing, warts and all, if it is to ever thrive and be loved by others. Don’t hold back. Write your passions. Let your first drafts flow unbridled. Consider reading Wild Mind: Living The Writer’s Life by Natalie Goldberg, one of my favorite tomes on being a writer, for encouragement and inspiration.

Education

Does your writing have a balanced education? Know your subject matter inside and out, whether it’s gardening, personal finance or the hometown of your fictional characters. Do your homework, and infuse your writing with facts. Authenticity shines in both fiction and nonfiction.

Discipline

Make your writing behave through firm, consistent editing. Introduce it to William Strunk and E.B. White’s The Elements of Style. This slim book is loaded with writing and editing gems. Among my favorites? “Avoid qualifiers (rather, very, little). They are leeches that infest the pond of prose, sucking the blood of words.” Nice.

Maturity

Give your writing a chance to mature. Once I’ve researched, composed and revised, I let my writing let sit for at least a day or two, longer when possible. I let it age. Coming back to it with fresh eyes helps me assess whether it’s ready to leave the nest.

Ok, so you’ve loved and nurtured your work. You’ve learned and grown and matured right along with it. Now it’s time to let go. Like parenting, it can be scary as hell sometimes, but you’ve got to have faith. No one can soar without taking a leap.

Are you ready to let go?

If not, what do you think is holding you back?

Jessica McCann, a professional freelance writer and novelist, lives with her family in Phoenix, Ariz. Her nonfiction work has been published in Business Week, The Writer and Phoenix magazines, among others. All Different Kinds of Free (http://www.AllDifferentKindsOfFree.com) is her award-winning debut novel. She welcomes interaction with readers and writers at her website (http://www.jessicamccann.com) and on Twitter (@JMcCannWriter).

Watch the book trailer to All Different Kinds of Free