AHA · Authors Helping Authors · Inspiration

“What If They Hate Me?” Why Book Reviews and Edits Suck ~ by Mercy Pilkington

Four tips for dealing with negative feedback f...I just got my first horrible review. No, it’s not of one of my books. (You were probably wondering how I’d managed to be an author this long and not have a horrible review yet!) No, this was a reply from a client to my edits. And unlike other clients who sang my praises and thanked me in their books, this client became horribly offended at my obvious lack of basic reading ability, and questioned my qualifications. Heck, she questioned my patriotism by the time she was through telling me off. And it hurt.

With my several years in the book business, I thought I’d developed a tough skin, a hard outer shell that came from years of working on both sides of the desk. I’ve actually learned to laugh when someone writes a horrible, profanity-riddled, one-star review of one of my books.

But then this happened. For the first time ever in my career, a client took such offense at my editorial suggestions, and has cut me off from her project. And I’m heart-broken.

I got into this business because I was tired of the gatekeepers telling worthy authors who had written stellar books that their work wasn’t marketable. But from time to time, I do get a client whose work just isn’t…ready. Yet. It could be ready, maybe someday down the road after a few rounds of rewrites and critique groups and hard-core editing.

There are two ways to take criticism when it comes to your book. Either politely dismiss it if the person providing the feedback doesn’t know what she’s talking about, or learn from it, and see if there’s some nugget of truth in the critique. In either case, there’s really no room for anger or hurt.

As with reviews of any kind, whether they’re of your book, your job performance at work, or even the casserole you made for dinner, remember that they are just the opinions of another human being, someone who may be right, or may be wrong. Evaluate their words and their meaning and apply them as they fit.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Mercy Pilkington is the CEO of Author Options, a full-service solutions provider for authors and publishers. Her sense of humor leans a bit to the sarcastic side, hence her overuse of the word crap. She is looking for romance titles that do not involved chiseled men with giant penises, and no more vampires unless there is something stunningly different about them that doesn’t involve sparkling. www.authoroptions.com

Have you had a bad experience where someone took constructive criticism too personally and lashed back at you? Have you had a bad review that just didn’t make sense to you, but hurt just the same? How do you deal with negative feedback?

4 thoughts on ““What If They Hate Me?” Why Book Reviews and Edits Suck ~ by Mercy Pilkington

  1. Interesting. When I first started writing I got very offended at my husband’s critiques – even though they were quite justified. I felt like, “Who me? A spelling error? You must be mistaken! You don’t understand that sentence? It’s a great sentence! How could you not understand it!” Then I read what he was talking about and my thoughts changed entirely. “How could I have missed that, but obviously I did? Oops I cut and pasted, and, hummm, what did I mean?” I still get touchy around the edges, but I always appreciate when someone points out the errors of my way! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The day came for me when I truly stopped caring about book reviews. My first book was a non-fiction piece about raising my autistic child. A scathing one-star review came in from a woman who railed against my very existence. Comments like, “She is a horrible mother, why did she even have children if she didn’t want to raise them, someone help that poor little boy and get him out of her home since she obviously doesn’t love him!!!” Yeah. I don’t have a son. I have a daughter. This lady obviously didn’t read the book. Now, I learn from the thought-provoking reviews (regardless of star rating) and laugh off the stupid ones!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Giving and getting critique is hard. I can manager my reaction when I receive critique. When I give it to others, I try to tell them up front what I’ll deliver. I also ask what their expectations are. It helps to be clear, let’s face it, an author’s work is very personal and sometimes it gets emotional. I hope this works itself out for you.


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