The Best Piece of Advice

anyone ever gave me came from the wise and experienced authors at Liberty States Fiction Writers. I’ve filed this advice in my brain right next to wear clean underwear in case I’m in an accident.

DO NOT ENGAGE

No, they weren’t talking about the thrusters on the Enterprise. They were referring to people who review your books. Goodreads, Amazon, professional bloggers, whatever. I was reminded of this for two reasons. One, my debut book, She Can Run, has garnered enough reviews now to have a few unfavorable ones. Two, I read a post on a loop recently from an author who contacted a reviewer to complain about a review. An ugly back-and-forth ensured. Which was exactly what I’d been warned would happen by those wise and experienced authors.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Liberty States Fiction Writers for saving ME this embarrassment.

This was the precious advice I received. It doesn’t matter if the reviewer has valid points about your book, is just being mean, wants to prove to the world he’s smarter than you, says things that aren’t true, or is flat-out insulting. None of that matters. No good can come of a writer complaining about a review. You will look like you can’t take criticism. You will look unprofessional. You will will look like a whiny bitch. Worst of all, you will draw even more attention to the review.

I’d tell you not to read reviews, but we all know that’s harder to do than it sounds. Writers are insecure. We MUST know what everyone thinks of our babies- er -books. Plus, reviews are as addictive as potato chips. You can’t stop after just one. But the next time someone posts a terrible review about your book, call a good friend and get all the complaining out of your system (sorry, Rayna!) Shut off the computer, go to the gym, and work off your frustration there. Not everyone will like your book. Just get over that now and move on. But above all,

DO NOT ENGAGE.

Does anyone else have a priceless piece of advice from a fellow writer that you’d like to share?

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15 responses to “The Best Piece of Advice

  1. Excellent advice, Melinda, and a good reminder. Thanks!

  2. I am not a writer but I do have advice there. “Only you can allow others to hurt you”

    Some days that becomes by chant.

  3. Very good advice…not everyone is going to like your stories, but then, you may not like what they’ve written, either. Oh, wait…maybe they don’t write stories and are jealous of what you have accomplished…or they’re just trying to demoralize you…just to be hurtful.
    Never, no, never ever engage!

  4. I understand what you’re saying. Bad reviews HURT. It doesn’t matter how many good reviews you get or how many awards you win, if someone writes something nasty about your work, it always plants that little doubt. I wish I had some good advice, but you’ve already stated it. Do not reply. Just try to shrug it off and move on.

  5. I actually find the nasty/snarky bad reviews easy to laugh at and dismiss. It’s the I-just-didn’t-like-it ones that hit home for me. If you’re lucky enough to get a slew of reviews, eventually someone isn’t going to like your book. Tastes differ. It’s as simple as some people like vanilla and others prefer chocolate.

  6. Wow, your timing here is incredible. lol

    There is an element in my book I knew pushed some readers’ emotional hot buttons. Actually there are two elements, but I knew without a doubt that one would bring on some very negative reviews. So I was prepared for that. I’ve gotten a couple of two star reviews, yeah they stung but I got over the sting quickly.

    And then I got my first one star review. I got it last night. And it’s instantly apparent that the book seriously pushed this reader’s hot buttons. That review didn’t even sting. But then a reader who had left a great review emailed and told me this woman had left a nasty, harassing comment on her own review. When I went and looked at the other reviews on this book, that one star reviewer had left nasty, harassing comments on several of the other reviews.

    So far this morning I have gotten two emails from upset readers wanting to know if I can get those comments taken off their reviews. I’ve told the two readers who contacted me to just ignore the comments to not engage this person as she just seems to be spoiling for a fight. But I can see this turning really ugly. How do you handle something like that?

  7. For Trish, I think I just read that review, and I have to say I have trouble taking any review seriously when the writer can’t spell simple words.
    In general, the DO NOT ENGAGE is perfect advice, and equates to “Don’t Feed the Troll” when dealing with people who are nasty for the sake of being nasty. I have a couple of reviews that start out with “I didn’t know what to expect” or “I wasn’t sure how I felt about this book at first.” As long as they kept reading and enjoyed the ending, I’m okay with it. These are well balanced with “I really really liked this book, where’s the next one”
    Then again, years of showing dogs has taught me you can’t please everyone and some you can’t please at all.

  8. great advice. hard to follow, I think but great advice. i’ts like not touching a sore tooth – our tendency is push on it with our tongue. But I continue to work on this aspect of life and try to get on with things. After all, not everyone has to agree with me. They should but….

  9. Great analogy, Louise. I’ll add that learning to accept criticism, constructive and not, is part of being a professional writer.

  10. I’d always been told it was polite to thank the reviewer for taking the time to read and review the book–regardless of content, but I’m reading now that’s it’s not such a good idea. I can’t argue with the reasoning, but it goes against my grain not to say thank you.

    • Shawna,

      I’ve seen some of the posts lately about author interaction. I don’t don’t know that there is anything wrong with thanking a reviewer, just perhaps not on the actual review. I don’t see anything wrong with sending a private email of thanks though.

      Rayna

  11. Pingback: There’s no such thing as a bad review…

  12. Not that reviews aren’t important – they are! But on a different, slightly related thread, the best advice I ever received was to find beta readers and critique partners who would be honest with me about what didn’t work or needed fixing early on in the writing of each new book. They’ve saved me and my characters from disaster more than once!

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