The Zen of Bad Reviews (post by Anna)
Every writer gets them. Even Nora Roberts receives one and two star reviews — and The Complete Works of Shakespeare has 17% one-star reviews on Amazon! We are in good company when we get those dreaded bad reviews. How should writers handle it? Learn the Zen of book reviews.
First, let me make one thing clear. I’m talking about both customer reviews on sites like Amazon and editorial reviews from various review websites and publications.
This post isn’t just for writers. It’s also for readers, who may be curious about how writers feel about book reviews. I’d say most writers have the same love-hate relationship with them I have. I love good reviews, of course, and I can easily brush off wishy-washy ones or reviews where the person clearly just doesn’t like the genres I write in or my style of writing. It’s those truly nasty reviews, the ones in which the reviewer seems to relish any opportunity to denigrate the author, that can be upsetting. Some reviewers will even proclaim I’ve made a factual error — but they’ve got their facts wrong.
As a writer, I can’t respond to these erroneous reviews. Ironically, it would make me look petty. Sigh. Such is the life of a writer. Few professions require you to subject yourself to public ridicule on a daily basis. This is where the Zen of book reviews comes into the picture.
What is Zen? I looked up the definition and found a great explanation on the Taoism.net website. The definition there has several parts, but here are the two most relevant to what I’m discussing: 1) “Zen means being free of the distractions and illusory conflicts of the material world”, and 2) “Zen means experiencing fully the present, and delighting in the basic miracle of life itself.”
Whenever I start to get upset about a crummy review, I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and remember the good things I have in my life. Some people like to be negative; I don’t. The definition on the website I mentioned dovetails nicely with my attitude toward bad reviews. It’s a distraction and an illusory conflict. I’d rather focus on what really matters — family, friends, enjoying life. I love writing, and nobody is going to scare me away from putting my books out there.
Here’s my number-one thing to remember when bad reviews show up: It’s one person’s opinion and does not reflect on my talent or dedication to my craft. I have lots of fans who tell me how much they love my books. Maybe they don’t write reviews, and that’s fine. I know how they feel because they’ve told me. The rest is noise.
That’s my Zen of book reviews.
This month I’m succumbing to giveaway mania! Enter my overlapping giveaways on Goodreads for a chance to one of two autographed copies of each book. This week it’s Willpower and The Mortal Falls, two of my paranormal romances in the series, respectively, Psychic Crossroads and Undercover Elementals. The latter giveaway ends tonight at 11 PM, so hurry to get your entry!