Someone criticized your book? The nerve of them. It’s like an acquaintance looking down into the carriage at your cooing infant and making a face. Doesn’t she know your baby is the most beautiful creature ever created? It’s no different with your book. Reviewers who aren’t writers don’t realize how much sweat and love and anxiety go into writing a book. Just finishing it is a major accomplishment. You love your characters. Live with them for months on end. Go to sleep thinking about how they’re going to handle the problems you’ve spent the same number of months creating. And someone finds them uninteresting? Annoying even? And they found the sex trite. (I write erotic romance, don’t forget. Sex is a MAJOR part of the book. I have to admit, though, compared to what’s out there, I write more vanilla than kinky sex.) Still, trite? One sex scene is harder to write than the rest of the book. Multiply that by seven or eight. Groan.
You want to vent—to tell them, hey, you don’t know what you’re talking about. But you can’t. We all remember that unfortunate gal who argued with the reviewer who gave her a tepid review. She was the laughing stock of the Internet for days as the back and forth got out of hand. I wonder if the poor thing still thinks that the people who jumped all over her were wrong, or did she learn a valuable lesson?
Not everyone will like what you write. Some will even tell you they couldn’t get past page thirty.
It’s a given. Suck it up. Yeah, it hurts. But the most important thing to learn from a not-so-great review is that they are as important as the good reviews. Remember the contests you entered? Which critique did you get the most out of? Go on. Admit it. The one that gave you the lowest score. Sure, some of the things the critiquer said were off the mark. She saw the situation differently or in some cases she was plain wrong. But tucked in that ugliness were some things that made you go, Hmm, she has a point. You learn little from praise other than a massage to your ego. The reader saw your brilliance. You two are on the same page. Sure, it’s nice. Better than nice. But how much did you learn? How much of what she said will you apply to your work in progress that will improve it? Not much, I betcha.
In the wake of criticism, the inability to find a publisher, or the failure to reach one’s own high expectations, many writers have taken drastic measures. They are sad footnotes to a difficult career choice. Writers, more than anything else they do, must learn to roll with the punches. Rejection and criticism are part of the game.
Writing is exhilarating, depressing, frustrating, awe-inspiring, ego-shattering, mentally draining, but it can be ultimately rewarding. Just like life.
Maryn is giving away one of her e-books to two commenters. Winners will be announced on Friday. You can read the first chapter of each at her website: http://marynsinclair.com. Please remember that these are erotic romances. There’s graphic language and, you know, erotic stuff.
Thanks, Ellis, for having me back and giving me the opportunity to say a few words.