So it happened. You got your first one-star review and now you’re totally questioning your ability as a writer. You might even feel like writing is a waste of time. You may even start to wonder if you should put the pen down for good.
Believe it or not, I have shared some of these same thoughts. Since the release of my first independent project, Love, Lies & Consequences (The Fast Life Sequel), I have received quite a few positive reviews (Thank you) and some NOT so positive reviews (Thank you, too).
Take Tuesday morning for example. The first thing I did when I woke up was check on the status of my book. I was excited when I saw I had a new review on Amazon . . . Until I saw it was only one star. As you can imagine, my excitement turned to concern as I sat up to digest their comments. Their feedback was disappointing to say the least.
In the midst of my whining, I realized I had two options – I could sit there and harp over it for the rest of the day. Or I could use it as an opportunity to help others (as well as myself), learn how to cope.
It can be hard not to take bad reviews personal – even though they rarely are. After all this is your “baby” we’re talking about, and no one wants to hear someone criticize their “baby.” So when the big bad bully shows up at the playground, trying to push you around, it’s easy to understand why you feel the urge to protect your work or even defend it, however, there is no need to.
Personally, I dread seeing anything below a 3, but either way I’ve learned to be thankful. In fact, I’ve come to welcome constructive criticism because often times, people will rate the book, but they won’t give a reason why. So when they do care enough to tell you that your characters are “stupid, shallow, immature, etc.” don’t let it discourage you. Use it to improve.
In my opinion, bad reviews should motivate you just as much as good ones do – if not more. Because truth is, not everyone is going to like your book (no matter how bad you might want them to). It’s also important to understand that nothing is ever perfect. You will make mistakes, and that is okay. Over time your writing will grow and mature, which is something I hope to do, personally as well as professionally. Some days, I have to remind myself I am only 25. This is only my third book. In a lot of ways, I am still just getting started.
But regardless of ratings and reviews, at the end of the day, I can say I did my job as an author. They read it. They reacted. Which means I did something right. And being new to the indie side of the industry I take great pride in that.
And let’s face it. Every author has bad reviews. No matter how many bestsellers you write, guess what? It still does not guarantee 5 star ratings! And while I could spend all day comparing percentages, I won’t. Because that’s not really what this is about. One review doesn’t determine your success unless you let it.
So the next time you find yourself questioning your future as a writer, fear not. We are our own worst critics, are we not?