I Hate Your Book

22 Aug

I haven’t blogged since the first of the year, but a recent experience has awakened the blogger in me. In the past, I have talked to authors about getting negative reviews and have been warned that no matter how great people tell you that your book was, there will be some that will hate it. I can relate to the differences of opinion because there are many books that I do not like, but others claim to love them. I realize that everyone will not like or enjoy what I write and I accept this fully. This is what makes us human, our ability to choose for ourselves.

Last week, a local bookclub decided to read my novel, The Things Said We Would Never Do, and as a part of the discussion of the book, I joined them to answer questions and provide author insight. I was prepared to handle the feedback whether positive or negative, but I wasn’t prepared to feel attacked. One of the ladies in the club turned to me before the discussion and asked, “Can you handle constructive criticism?”

“Yeah,” I replied coolly. It was the truth. If there was something wrong with my book, I wanted to know. As an author I want to grow. I personally feel like every book I write should be better than the previous one. How can I develop as a writer if I am not open to honest feedback?

To me, I am my biggest critic. When people tell me that they loved my book, I’m honored because I feel like I still have so much to learn as an author. As much as I desire positive responses, I understand that it is only one person’s opinion and does not indicate that I am writing at my maximum potential. As far as I’m concerned, I have yet to reach my level.

Which takes me back to the bookclub meeting and the member who was eager to trash my book …to my face. I won’t get into the specifics, but to make a long story short, she very harshly verbalized that she was not impressed.It felt like it was more about her and not so much about me or my book, but who knows? In the end, I took it like a trooper and thanked her for her support and comments.

Later, a friend asked me was the criticism really constructive? Was she able to point out issues with the book that may need to be addressed? My answer: Not really. After listening to her I can’t say that she specified aspects of the book that made the book a poor read with the exception of a few typos (which happens to the best of authors).

But I did gain something from the experience which I truly value. I got my first bad reader review (not in writing, but just the same). I feel like I have been officially inducted into the writing industry, where bad reviews are a part of the process. The next time my author friends are telling me about how a reader dogged their work, I can say, “Been there, done that!” One of the most difficult things that I had to overcome in my journey to authorhood is the fear of rejection. What if they don’t like it? was a common concern before I ever published. It feels good to know that someone doesn’t like it and I can still hold my head high and not feel ashamed, embarrassed, or less of a writer. So a word of wisdom to all of you authors facing criticism (both constructive and plain nasty!), take what’s valid, throw away what’s not, and keep on doing what you love, write.

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4 Responses to “I Hate Your Book”

  1. trankins78 August 23, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    How very gracious you were. And I commend you for your professionalism. As a Marketing Director for a small publishing company, it’s something that I pride myself on…being able to take the criticism and remain positive in spite of it. You’re right, you have to be willing to take the good and the bad. But truthfully, I think it’s the negative that honestly gets the ball rolling. People are quick to spread the bad news, and it gets your book in more hands. B/c people are eager to witness first hand, what the person who has said the negative says. I read an article about the author of the book, The Help, who says she was told negative things about her book even from major publishing houses. But as you can see, she has the last laugh.

    Keep plugging away. And I wish you much success with more books to follow:)

  2. Nike August 23, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    It’s one thing to get negative feedback in writing, but face to face is way harder to deal with! It makes me think that I need to work on my “poker face” in case I find myself in the same situation! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Rach August 23, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    Well, Sis
    all that doesn’t kill you will definitely make you stronger. We won’t give
    the criticizer any glory but you God be all the glory from which all blessings flow and what was meant to possibly destroy you has potentially made you a stronger and more determined writer.
    You are headed toward the best sellers list.

    -Rach

  4. Yolanda Stephen August 29, 2011 at 12:14 am #

    Thank you for sharing your experience. It makes us all contemplate the question ‘What if someone doesn’t like my book?’ My book is scheduled for release on Sept. 21, 2011 and the title has some shunning it already, The Upside of the Down Low, a Pastor’s Wife’s Memoir (www.upsidebook.com). I’ve turned this question over in my head because I have had to respond to critics not liking it and they haven’t even READ it. So, your insight above helps tremendously. Be Blessed and see ya on The Upside!

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