What I’m learning…

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As someone who is hoping to be published very soon, there are rules to which you need to live by if you plan on having a long career in this field.

  • Have a thick skin.
  • Never read negative reviews unless you’re prepared to learn from them.
  • If you want to respond to a  review, always say “thank you for taking the time to read my work” and if the reviewer didn’t really care for it still say “thank you.” No other comment is necessary.
  • Avoid the drama when you can.
  • Avoid the drama when you can (not a typo)
  • And AVOID the drama when you can.

I’m not going to wade into the muck that’s surrounding  Goodreads and the other one, Stop The Goodreads Bullies. I’ve read the posts and the comments on both sites, followed conversations back and forth on Twitter and I have to tell you, I am sick to my stomach about the stuff that is going on. Let’s be clear; I’m not pointing fingers at anyone specific. I don’t have to. Its all out there and its shameful.

I’ve read books where I was like WTF? I wouldn’t be so blunt in my review like that but when I rate a book, I usually say “its not working for me, etc.” That’s it. But check this: that is how I review a book. When someone else offers their opinion, it is THEIR opinion. That’s it in a nutshell.

I just don’t get it. What happened to just loving books? What happened to discovering new authors and enjoying what they’ve slaved over to get out to the public? What happened to just accepting honest reviews, whether they were negative or not? Why must there be such an upheaval over someone’s opinion? It comes with the territory. Am I right or did I miss the memo on THAT particular conversation?

I’m not tossing my hat into the ring and expect to come out of the other side without negative reviews. In my OPINION, thinking like that is both naive and self-serving. It’s going to happen. I’ll probably get my feelings hurt and will likely have to go hide in a corner somewhere for a little bit.

One reviewer may not like your work but ten more will. What happened to the learning aspect of a negative review? What happened to the positive connection with people who may not agree with you all the time?

It just boggles the mind how it has erupted into this horrible situation.  Its gotten to the point where it has become very dangerous and I feel for those who are involved.

There’s enough going on in the world without this kind of shit happening.  Let’s just stop it, okay? If you want to leave a comment, that’s fine. If you’re looking for a fight, you’ve come to the wrong place.

I’ve got another book to write…

7 comments on “What I’m learning…

  1. aleshaescobar says:

    I agree w/ you, Ren. Some people will enjoy a particular book while others won’t, and everyone is free to have their opinion or preference. When a negative review is met with negativity, it’s a no-win situation and just looks bad.

  2. Ellie Heller says:

    I love this post, but what I love most is this line:
    As someone who is hoping to be published very soon…

  3. Red Tash says:

    Ugh, I can’t wait til this matter is all resolved.

    Here’s my take on it:

    Some books are just plainly awful. If you don’t like it, it could be one of those books, or it could just be your taste. I rarely give 1 star reviews, or even 2 star reviews. If it’s a new author, an obviously struggling sort, I wouldn’t leave them a bad review, because that would be truly unkind. However, in the instance of a wildly-popular book (or any item, really) that could be purchased as a gift, I’d rather warn off my friends not to buy it. I’d also like to alert whatever merchant I’m buying from not to pitch similar items at me. Those complex algorithms are useless if I don’t inform them with my preferences.

    I’ve one-starred faulty baby seats, baking products that were mislabeled to include unmarked life-threatening ingredients, and yes, atrocious books. I am more than willing to suffer any consequences for leaving those reviews. That’s not a hobby, and it’s not a past-time, it’s just part of being a citizen. One or two one-stars in a sea of good reviews isn’t going to break anyone’s career, that’s for sure. When a bunch of one-stars start turning up for a faulty product, it’s a good sign not to buy it, though! I don’t think I’ll stop doing this, even though I write for a living. I don’t think I *should*. I don’t think it’s fair of anyone to expect me to leave them a 5 star review *or else*. That’s crazy talk.

    When I do read a book I feel needs help, I either just don’t finish it, or if I’m feeling particularly generous, I might send an email to the author about whatever the issue was. However, MOST of the time, those emails are met with anger or just frustration (which can read like anger in an email), no matter how nicely they’re worded. So, overall, there’s little point of trying to be helpful to those authors. In the end, I think their resulting lack of sales will speak for themselves, or if it’s a popular book with flaws, there will be reviewers who don’t have writing careers to point it out! I’ve got my own writing career to fiddle with, anyway.

    I’m grateful for all my reviewers, and in the one weird case where I had someone threaten me with bad reviews, I’m grateful he showed his true colors. I thought we were friends and his meltdown was unexpected & unprovoked. It is what it is. People are going to be jealous sometimes. There’s no amount of love and goodwill I can throw at them to counteract how they decide to see me, and what kind of object they make out of me. If they want to one-star *me* because they don’t like *me,* then they should probably have it. I’ve had a lot worse. My career as a writer has never been about making people love me personally. By & large, I hope that someday I’ll have more readers than fans. Fans are enthusiastic about an author. Readers just enjoy the book and move onto the next, and they may or may not become fans. I do love my fans!!! But realistically, if I’m selling enough books, most of my readers aren’t taking the time to get to know *me,* and that’s just a mark of success, right?

  4. Naiobi says:

    Good for you Ren; I totally agree!

  5. As a book reviewer, I try very hard to be fair even when I have to be negative. Authors shoot themselves in the foot when they respond the wrong way, but there are some nasty reviewers out there as well.

    I love this question from you: What happened to just loving books?

  6. As a book reviewer, I’d definitely have to agree with you. Authors, don’t respond to reviewers if they give you a negative review because you’ll never win the argument. The review will go viral as people watch another author implosion and the reviewer will be laughing away while your reputation goes down the toilet.

    Best thing to do is not read reviews at all, but in my experience authors (especially self-published) rarely follow this advice. The second best thing to do is to grow a thick skin if you’re reading reviews. In the publishing world, you’ll need it.

  7. Well said, Ren. My opinion exactly.

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