Thursday, September 11, 2014

Reviews Hurt: Taking Criticism and Using It Positively by Rose Jackson-Beavers

One of the hardest things for an author to hear is that the story they wrote wasn't good enough. We writers want to create a story everyone is talking about – the story that begs for a sequel. But what happens when the compliments don't come? How should a writer feel when the story told is not that interesting? Edward Booker, author of A Hole in My Heart, said, "I was upset.  How dare someone say something negative about my work?  It hurt.  I had never heard or read negative responses to my writing. Then one day, I read a review that said the book was good, but needed more editing.  That was surprising because I intentionally wrote some of the dialogues in the way folks spoke in the hood. So I was like why should I changed that! Then I was told in order to be taken serious as a writer, it was important to give my best. So I made the changes."
Reviews should help writers become better at their craft. If the reviews are valid, make sense and gives constructive criticism that's helpful, the author should take the information and use it positively. As a writer, you should want to be better and grow to be the best.  If readers can help you, why not listen?  After all, readers are the people who are buying your books. The information you receive may be extremely valuable and when not utilized may be just the thing stopping you from hitting the best seller's list.

The first time Edward received a negative review, he said he learned something very important, "I didn't handle criticism well. I blamed the reader for not understanding where I was coming from with my story. But I listened, learned from it and moved forward. I also had the story re-edited. That was hard."

It feels so good to get great reviews, but you cannot allow a critical one to stop you from doing something you love. There are many professions such as educators and doctors, who must update their skills regularly, because things change and nothing stay the same.  As a patient, you want your doctor to be the best and to give you the best service, so health professionals must stay relevant and keep improving their skills.  It's the same with authors; they must continue to take classes, and learn new things to write about to keep readers engaged in their books.  If you want readers to follow your work, and purchase your novels, you have to have an open mind, be willing to listen and  eager to become better at your craft. You have to present a good book.

The first time I received a bad review I called my friend who is a therapist.  I felt terrible.  She said, "Everyone is not going to like your work.  Get over yourself.  Remember even bad reviews get publicity." Another one of my friends who's a bestselling author reminded me that reviews are other people's opinions. Stop reading them if they affect you like that and keep writing and learning."

Reviews can be helpful to the author and to readers who are looking for a good book to read. Edward stated, "Reviews are valuable but when written in a spiteful way, will only make an author feel like you're a hater and not someone who is seriously giving valuable criticisms. When the information is real and helpful, then I'm willing to utilize the suggestions to change for the better."   As a writer, it is necessary to build up your courage and to strengthen your heart because you will need it through this journey of writing. Remember each step you take will make you better and stronger to reach your goals. Not all people will support you, but that's okay too. For every person who puts you down, rejects you or simply don't like your work, two more will pick you up.

Rose Jackson-Beavers is an author, publisher and freelance writer.  She lives in Florissant, MO, with her husband and daughter.


BostonPobble said...

1. I always tell writers listen to the reviews that make sense and resonate on some level. Listen to the ones that offer something constructive. Trash talk can go out with the trash.
2. I no longer read reviews, positive or negative. The positive ones take away my edge, because I think I can rest. The negative ones take away my willingness to try.
3. YOU'RE BACK!!!!! OMGoodness, I have missed you, woman! And now you're BACK! :) Happy Pobble Hop.

Rose said...

Yes, BostonPobble I have to get back in the swing of things but I should be back daily soon!