You’re Either Loved Or Hated

CriticEveryone is a book critic

One lesson I have learned since I began publishing my writing is that there will be those who somewhat like or tolerate what I do, those who love what I do and then well, there will always be those who really hate every single word I’ve ever written. And of course, they very often want to tell the whole world in no uncertain terms what they think.

The best litmus test for reviews for me is Goodreads. A social media site dedicated to books and reading. No matter where a reader has sourced one of my books from – Kindle, Nook, Paperback, free or pirated – they can add their ten cents worth.

As a habit, I always click the ‘Like’ button for any review I receive on this site. Good or bad. What I don’t do though is ‘flare’. By which I mean that I never defend my writing when I receive a real ‘killer’ type bad review. Acknowledge yes, but never argue. Even for the likes of one particular reviewer who I just noticed today who seemed to hate one of my books (a free one I might add) and has proceeded to post his review a number of times!

Pleasing all of the people all of the time is an impossibility, and with my rather eccentric view of the world, only some will understand where I am coming from. Probably even fewer will have an idea of where I am going. But my writing style is my writing style and I am saying what I want to say and how I want to say it. In my mind, this is what writing is all about.

My beliefs and passions are very close to me, and although often expressed from an abstract or obtuse angle, every book I have sent ‘out there’ has had a message. I love the underdogs, the losers, the oppressed and hard done by. Probably a product of my disillusionment with the fairness of our society. Certainly not everyone’s cup of tea.

It goes without saying though, that I prefer the great reviews. However, at the same time, the bad reviews are necessary I believe. Why? Because it gives prospective readers a balanced view. When I myself see nothing but glowing reviews for a book or writer, I get suspicious. After all, I just can’t read Amanda Hocking but I don’t think any review by me would lessen her popularity.

If you’re a writer, you have to accept the good with the bad. So long as you are writing what you believe in. That’s all that is important.

14 thoughts on “You’re Either Loved Or Hated”

  1. Excellent post, Derek, on a very valid point. From the moment you are out there, be it with a book, blog, Facebook or Twitter account, you become susceptible to criticism. Trust me, I know. When the trolls, one review wonders or just plain idiots decide to bash you, the best defense is to let them say whatever the hell they want. Fighting back just gives them the attention they seek and may end up biting you in the butt.

  2. Well said mate. Like you, since my first novel hit the physical shelves and the ebook market, I have become the target of total prawns who inhabit their darkened bedrooms, actually believing that what they say matters – not!

    They vent their spleen against anyone who sticks his or her head above the parapet.

    Whether we receive good, or bad reviews, I firmly believe all publicity is good. Those who like our work far outnumber the moronic few Derek.

    If the morons turned their energy to writing a book of their own, and were subjected to the level of invective we suffer, maybe, just maybe, they would shut up and go away.


  3. Great post and I agree with you. I have a pretty good idea of what I do and don’t like to read and try to select carefully so I don’t get too many nasty surprises. Sometimes, not often I hate a book just because it’s not my kind of thing and I can’t get into it. I accept that other people may love it. I think the fact that everyone has different opinions and experiences of fiction is what makes life interesting for writers and readers.

    What I don’t like is seeing reviews that are unnecessarily rude or insulting. Most of these reviewers will not have written a book of their own (we have to hope!) Detractors seem to express their opinions a lot more forcefully than more balanced commentators. I have a theory that people leaving a one star review are often attention seeking, knowing that theirs is more likely to be read than one of dozens of more positive ones. The last thing they need is any encouragement in the form of replies from the author.

    1. Probably right Isabel. The really nasty reviews I have received made me wonder if they had even read the book. Full of generalised vitriol. A very petty way of garnering attention.

      This differs from reviewers who found that the story just didn’t work for them or wasn’t in line with their tastes. These people tend to add at least a little constructive element to their reviews. These types of reviews I very much appreciate.

  4. Kevin McCourt (@broke_writer)

    I hate making generalizations, but I feel “in general” that the greatest works of fiction are written to a smaller audience. I’m not talking about O.K. or enjoyable novels, but the ones that are excellent — the ones that blow you away. When both author and reader can agree on strong ideas that are expressed, there is an amazing bond that is hard to break.

    As a new writer — or an old writer new to publishing — I have read tons of opinions and kicked around twice as many ideas about where my strengths are as a writer and how these relate to what will be widely received. And come to the conclusion that I could care less. My goal in publishing is not about financial gain (although that is nice), so if I pulled punches and didn’t write what felt true to me, I’d feel a failure regardless of how many books I sold.

    1. I think you are spot on Kevin. Your point about small audiences is what indie authoring especially is all about. Only a couple of rare outliers have reached the mass market, so it means that authors need to know their own markets.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

  5. Derek, absolutely agree. You show the courgae of your convictions (my cliché of the day) and it’s not every author that can do that.
    I received a two star review last week after a wave of four and five stars. I had made a huge giveaway in search of broader review feedback and the particular reader didn’t find my work to be the page-turner that others had described, more of a get through the shite to enjoy the good bit towards the end. After a few coffees I could see the viewpoint. It’s one that I’d shared during my lows. Reflecting now, it does tell me that not everyone will like my work and that tells me I have a defined market, (if only I could define it!)


  6. I always take comfort in the knowledge that even the greatest works of literature skew towards the 3 star mark (dead center). There’s something for everyone, and if there wasn’t it would be a sad, sad world!

  7. If it was up to some people, only their kind of choices would exist in the world and everyone else’s take would be in the backseat languishing away. We don’t need another snarky smartass in the world, we need people willing to accept that they are not the arbiters of good taste. That’s why I don’t review works, and if I did, I’d be extraordinarily careful in giving any work undue acclaim or disdain.

  8. Good post, Derek. I’m really looking forward to my first ranting review. I reckon when they start rolling in you know you’ve made it.:) I’m with Ruby, still trying to find my readers.

  9. Derek I totally agree with you, trying to please everyone is like preparing to fail. However, it is always hard to see a bad review, expecting everyone to love what we do seems to be ingrained in your DNA, but as long as am writing what I truly believe, I always say the person who was meant to read will appreciate it, as for the bad…well life would be a bit boring without the drama, don’t you think?

  10. We all love a pat on the back Veehcirra. Only human. But when you pick up the pen and let the whole world into your thoughts, you have to be ready to accept that there will be those who just don’t connect with you.

    It’s the same for me with my blog, as I am publishing my thoughts, opinions and beliefs everyday.

    Very similar to olives I think. Some people love ’em, some just hate ’em. :)

  11. Sometimes a bad review simply means that you aren’t writing the kind of generic garbage that was designed by a committe sitting around a boardroom table. You wrote for a specific audience and the rest should read the sample before buying.

    I can almost see the scene now. A semi-dark meeting room with stale coffee and day old pastries on the table. A projection on the screen listing the requirements for the next story – 16% more sensitive vampires, 18% more sex – half of that with sensitive vampires, monkeys – lots of monkeys…

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