Friday, September 13, 2013

The Art of recieving criticism....

Once you have reached publication, your book, your work, your love, your passions are on public display, ready to be critiqued by all and sundry. This means you will be laying yourself open for some wonderful accolades but also the inevitable criticisms. I have seen over the internet some truly disturbing accounts of authors attacking reviewers and reviewers attacking authors.... so how does one avoid this negativity?

Well, firstly understanding that you can't you can't help what people think about your work, goes a long way to steering clear from the potentially nasty. Just like everyone likes a different flavour of icecream, there will be some who hate all icecream.... and basically so what? That's life, people are free to like and dislike whatever they want. So you must realise, that once your book is out in the public domain... you have opened the door to the critics...

Yes, I know this... I hear you mutter, but how do you deal with the bad ones?

Foster a level of understanding and empathy with your readers and critics alike - in understanding that we're all different, it's easier to accept the critics.

1.Understand that even though it may be 'your best work', realistically it won't be without it's faults and flaws... No one's plot, grammar, punctuation, character arc, GMC etc is ever completely perfect. Jane Austen comes close, but you could still pick holes in it if you wished to do so!

2. Understand that your readers are unique people, and so to them, a heroine you think is kick ass and cool may come across as a bully. Similarly the Alpha hero you wrote to be powerfully sexy has come across as a narcissistic psychopath to your reader. You can't help how people interpret your characters. You just can't.

3. Understand that some people just like being critical, just as some like being mean. There may be very good reasons for them doing so, or there may not be. Ultimately, why someone chooses to write negatively about your work is entirely up to them. Even though it may offend you, it is their prerogative. Be magnanimous about it.  That's not to say, however, that sometimes, (or all the time) it doesn't hurt. A hard review inevitably causes that pain-filled swelling of self doubt and you may well find yourself worrying; "was it really that bad?". Or you may feel very angry, the review may seem like a personal attack, and those feelings are perfectly OK too... What is not OK, is to react to it. Even though a negative review has your name it connected with hurtful comments. It isn't really personal, all though it may feel like it. That person doesn't know how you take your tea, or that you secretly had a weird cartoon crush on Astro Boy as a kid. They don't know you. All they know what you write, and that they didn't like it. So what? Ultimately it doesn't matter, and heck, at least they read it, and hopefully paid for the privilege!

4. Never, EVER, respond to negative reviews. It may be difficult if you believe yourself to have been unjustly attacked over your writing. Yes, you will want to defend yourself, but the best defence is to say nothing at all, and let that review disappear into the ether.

Remember that your readers ARE NOT you.
They aren't going to connect with your fictional world like you do, love your characters like you do. They might still like or love your writing; but no one, and I mean NO ONE will have the same connection with your fictional world and its inhabitants like you do.

Try and take criticism constructively, see if you can understand their point. If not, shrug and go have a cup of tea safe in the knowledge that all people are different, just like the guy with halitosis on the bus. No judgements.

Simply knowing and truly understanding this will lessen the sting of that negative review.

And on that note, I bid you happy Friday the 13th, may your day be a good one, and reviews always kind!

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