Does anyone else turn into a mess right around book release time? I swear, Goodreads and Amazon have made us neurotic. I’m always on Goodreads, hands trembling, waiting to see what awful thing has been said about my work now. Then my stomach is in knots because *GASP* not EVERYONE LOVES ME? WHAT IS THIS??
But I’m here to tell you—you don’t need to stress over those bad reviews.
Let me tell you why.
First of all, you wrote a book. And not only did you write it, you edited it (hopefully), and published it. How many people do you know who’ve said, “I’ve always wanted to write a book,” but they never have? Dozens, probably, maybe more. You wrote a book. You are a hero. You look at your book and be proud of what you’ve accomplished. LOOK AT IT!
Secondly, writing is learning experience, not an exact science. Let’s compare it to school. We start out in kindergarten, not knowing all that much. But we’ve got people to help us. We’ve got teachers and parents and our community. By the time we’re seniors in high school, we think we have this whole school thing figured out, only to find ourselves in college with no idea what the hell we’re doing. Being a writer isn’t all that different. We all start out at the beginning, but we learn and we grow. Maybe your first book wasn’t a bestseller, that’s okay. You’re learning. You’re making mistakes, but more importantly, you’re learning how to correct them. (And remember college? We may have a degree, but sometimes we still don’t know what the hell is happening!)
Truth is, you can’t undo that book you published. Maybe if you self-published, you can edit again, change the cover, try to garner some better reviews, and you SHOULD, especially if the book was unedited. (Please don’t publish unedited work. There’s nothing worse.) But if you’ve grown as a writer, if you’ve learned from the books you’ve published, then you have nothing to stress over. I know. It’s art. It’s so hard to put something out there only to have people tear it apart. But the past is in the past, and that book, it’s now a part of your past. You’re not the same writer you were when you faced that first blank page. You’re not even the same person.
Did you learn something about grammar?
Did you learn how to foreshadow?
Did you learn how to subtly nuance a character’s personality?
Did you learn not to split infinitives?
If you learned, then you are doing it right.
There will always be people who don’t like your work, and that’s okay. It’s hard to accept, but it’s okay. When you sit down at your computer to write, are you thinking about those people who don’t like your work? No. You’re thinking about how great it is to write. How it feels to accomplish something. You’re remembering that fluttering in your stomach when you reach that really important scene. You’re finding your release. And maybe, just maybe, you’re a little scared, because you’re really putting yourself out there this time. You’re really taking chances. You’re writing about something that matters to YOU.
So let those bad reviews roll off your back and keep going, soldier. There’s still books inside of you and many more lessons to learn.