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Understanding criticism: the good, the bad, and the ugly

September 17th, 2013 | Posted by Annette in Books | Marketing | Perspectives | Reviews

Have you ever noticed how polar book reviews can be?

I loved it!”

Eh.… it was okay.”

Bleck! Who writes this stuff!”

Clearly, no book is meant for every reader. But as writ­ers, it is imper­a­tive to set our egos aside and deter­mine the valid crit­i­cism from the invalid. For me, a few steps have really helped with this process.

1. Write with a tar­get audi­ence in mind. This is impor­tant for so many rea­sons. Read­ers out­side your tar­get audi­ence will prob­a­bly dis­like (or at the very least, not LOVE) your book. Under­stand­ing this make it much eas­ier when neg­a­tive reviews come in.

2. Crit­i­cism is your friend. Become an ana­lyt­i­cal machine and turn off your ego. Once your pride is set aside, this becomes much eas­ier to do. Look at your work the way a lit­er­ary agent would. They’re crit­i­cal, tough, totally unin­ter­ested in your feel­ings, but very objec­tive. I admit this is dif­fi­cult, but it is not impos­si­ble. Learn­ing to set your ego aside brings a fresh view. You’ll see things you never saw before. An added bonus will be the abil­ity to spot sour­pusses. These are the review­ers with an agenda. Obvi­ously, sour­pusses offer lit­tle con­struc­tive crit­i­cism. And if it’s not con­struc­tive, what good is it? Toss it out.

3. Be objec­tive, even if it’s painful. If more than one reviewer says the same thing, look at the sit­u­a­tion again. Take plenty of time before mak­ing a major deci­sion. Think, think, think.

4. The Aver­age Jane (or Joe) are prob­a­bly the best source for con­struc­tive crit­i­cism. These are the review­ers that don’t have an agenda. They just decided to write a review. Per­son­ally, I think they are AWESOME! (thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU to each and every one of them! Whether it was a review writ­ten for my books or some­one else’s. Review­ers like this are golden! Golden, I say! GOLDEN!)

5. Never allow crit­i­cism to put out your fire. Instead, use it. Dis­sect crit­i­cism. Focus through an ana­lyt­i­cal eye rather than an emo­tional one. (You’re a writer, so you have an amaz­ing imag­i­na­tion. Put your­self in the publisher’s seat. Think like a pub­lisher. Think like an agent.)

6. Most impor­tantly, ignore the mean peo­ple. For some rea­son there are a few out there chas­ing indie authors. (Weird.) Ignore them. Period. They’re just not worth your time. At least, they’re not worth my time. I’ve got books to write. Char­ac­ters to cre­ate. Plots to form and sce­nar­ios to twist. I’m busy!

7. Keep mov­ing ahead. Learn from your mis­takes. Embrace them. They are your teach­ers. Don’t beat your­self with a stick. There are plenty of peo­ple will­ing do that for you. Instead, keep working.

8. Write, write, write, write, write! You know you want to! Speak­ing of which, I’ll see ya later. I’ve got more nov­els in the works. Until next time. :D

~Annette

 

The For­got­ten Queen is Annette Mackey’s most recent novel. Avail­able on Amazon.

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