Why Take It Personal?
I saw a question on Twitter this morning. The person wanted to know why can’t authors take criticism from buyers who pay money for their books and buyers have a right to complain about the products they purchase. This is absolutely true. As a consumer, we have the right to express our disappointments in the products we purchase. I have had my share of strongly written emails and letters to the retailers, manufactures, and service providers. I have also written a few bad reviews for books I have read.
So, this question made me think on my drive to work. What is the difference? Why take it so personal? Well, the answer is simple. It is personal. A book is not like a laptop, mass produced in a factory on some assembly line by nameless faces. A book is an individual’s creation. They have poured their heart and soul into it. Some have worked months or years, creating a story they wanted to tell. They pulled upon their life experiences. The characters became a part of them. And for good or bad, you fall in love with the world you’ve created.
This is personal.
After all that, you put yourself out there for the world to see. It’s like standing naked in Time Square on New Year’s Eve. All eyes are on you and you wait to see if others share your love for what you have devoted your time to develop. Writing is an art. It’s subjective. Not everything will be for everyone. It’s not a toaster. There’s not a specific function to this product. It might work one way for one person and differently for another. So, I don’t think writing a bad review for a book is like complaining about a toaster that didn’t work. Yes. I paid my money for both, but there is a difference on how I view the results of each products’ effectiveness.
Here is the different ways I try to handle this situation. When I write a review about a book, I try to be fair. If I don’t like it, I try to point out why. If it’s things specific to my taste, I say so. I try to point out something that I liked if there were any. If not, then I don’t usually write a review. I try to respect the fact someone has a lot of time invested in this book. I want to make sure my comments help someone else determine if this book will be something they want to read. I try not to be degrading or insulting. Criticism is fine as long as it’s constructive.
Many times it’s not.
As a writer, you have to develop a tough skin. I haven’t ever responded to negative reviews or comments. I don’t recommend that anyone should.
But when you write your reviews, regardless if it is positive or negative, remember there is a person behind the words you read. How would you want to be treated if you spent your days and nights creating something that was special to you?
My favorite bad review…Remember, I write paranormal romance.
I did not like this book at all. It insulted my intelligence as a reader. I can suspend reality with the best of them, but this was too much. Archangles come to Earth to fight for a model they do not know. A human outwits Satan. Humans and supernatural beings can fall in love and have sex. Give me a break.