Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How to Graciously Accept Negative Reviews

I'm a member of several critique groups. One is in the real world, but the others are online. Everyone critiques differently, and there are several different levels of critiquing.

What I love about critique groups is that they find the problems in my book and they flaunt them in front of my face. How else would my book get better? We as authors understand this, right?

So I was a bit flabbergasted when I got not one, not two, but THREE emails from someone defending her book against my critique. As I responded to each and every email, I tried to be polite and respectful, but my true thoughts were, "Really? You've got to have a thicker skin than this to be a writer."

In light of her agony, here are some suggestions:

1) If lots of people are confused by the same thing, then perhaps the book could be a little clearer. There's no need to email the critiquer and tell them what you meant. Put it in your book so the reader knows what you mean.

2) Even if you feel the review doesn't apply, be gracious about it. Thank the critiquer. Not a good idea to threaten to leave the group because no one "gets" your book.

3) Don't email the critiquer and tell them all the ways they misread your book. Don't tell them they're wrong. Fix your book so it can't be misread. They might be wrong, but don't say it unless you don't want reviews from them again.

4) Don't join a critique group expecting everyone to tell you your book is perfect. That's not why you joined. You want to know how to make it better, and we're going to tell you.

5) Grow a thick skin. I can promise you, I won't be reviewing this person again. If you spazz or pout or get defensive with every less-than-glowing review, you'll stress everyone out and no one will try with you again.

6) Humble yourself. There is the ever so slight possibility that the critiquer is on to something. If you're not willing to listen, you'll miss out on making something better.

Critiques are meant to encourage, not destroy. They only work if the author listens to them, though!


Rebecca Belliston said...

So true. The thick skin is the hardest part of being an author for me, but when I take a step back, 99% of the time people are right. And when more than one person says the same thing about my WIP, I know it's time to do some serious fixing. If people think critique partners are harsh, wait until their published. Readers are worse. Might as well fix it while you can.

Tamara Heiner said...

oh, no kidding that! Readers are definitely not thinking of the author's feelings.

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