Celebrate your bad reviews, and celebrate reviewers!

23Oct14
So much vitriol is going on about “author vs. reviewer.” It’s come down to acts of physical violence now. And it’s casting a pall over the entire indie community. Every time some reviewer gets hassled (or worse), hundreds of us are cringing, thinking, “that’s not me! No, no, don’t put me in the same boat as that one!”The enduring advice is, “ignore bad reviews!”It’s great advice, and I am going to break it, by celebrating my favorite bad reviews.

This is not a whiny post that mocks the reviewer. I’m talking about, “Check this guy out! He really got me good!” Appreciating and respecting a point of view other than yours. Because if we’re lucky, we have some good ones, and celebrating them – accepting that they are opinions well-stated – makes us stronger, and makes us better writers. Taking criticism makes you a better writer. Yes, it does.

Soon after I published Diary of a Small Fish, I solicited and received a review from a critic at the Chicago Center for Literature & Photography (CCLAP). It was beautiful, and you might enjoy reading the entire review. Here is the part that makes me smile the most.

“But still, maybe Small Fish would turn out to be a redemptive story when all is said and done, and our protagonist would by the end understand what kind of sneaky, petty, subsumed-guilt Bush-loving Michael-Scott frat-boy douchebag he actually is…”
I love that.Here’s one more, a one-star from a Goodreader:
It’s kind of like the author couldn’t decide whether he wanted to write a political thriller or just a really long story about rich people enjoying expensive food and wine (which he goes to staggering extremes to explain in every detail during almost every scene). I read books for interesting character and plot development, not to hear how often they eat fancy food and drink expensive alcohol.
Are these guys right? (Hey, what’s wrong with fancy food and expensive alcohol?)
It doesn’t matter what I think. It comes with the territory. Everyone’s a critic.
This business requires thick skin, humility, and an indelible sense of humor. Some writers are born with them, some have to grow them. Some of the rest will be next week’s fare in The Guardian.
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One Response to “Celebrate your bad reviews, and celebrate reviewers!”

  1. Lovely reviews, Pete. Helps me to prepare for mine because I’m expecting some doozers. Actually, more than doozers; I’m expecting some vitriolic ones, and am considering using a pen name for my own safety!


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