Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What Do You Do With A Bad Review?

I don’t mean if your work gets one, (it happens to us all, sooner or later). I mean what happens if you promise to read someone’s book and it’s just not what you had hoped it would be? It may be full of clich├ęs that make you roll your eyes, or names or characters borrowed from other works that make you blink in astonishment at the audacity of the author.

If that happens, what do you do?

When you are forcibly thrown from a book’s narrative, how many times will you crawl back between the covers to rejoin the story? Words, imagery, being told instead of shown… these are all things that boot us out of a story, reminding us that we are reading a book instead being transported to a new land full of their problems… as opposed to our own.

How do you write a review?

Some people have no problem writing a scathing review. They feel that the anonymity of the internet gives them the power to be “honest”. After all, they say, who wouldn’t want an honest critique of their work, full of constructive tips and helpful hints.

They disregard the fact that they, themselves, are terrible writers, and blur the lines between helpful hints, outright insults and crushing personal attacks.

Still others write glowing reviews of books they haven’t enjoyed. These reviews can be found everywhere. You can spot them by the amount of generalizations in the review. They may say “The story moved well” instead of “The main character, Bill, was a jerk, and got what was coming to him right quick.” People do this with the best of intentions. I’ve done it, my own self. Most will do it so as to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or causing their book to fall in the rankings.

As a writer, I’d like to think that I am tough enough to take the heat, read a review chock full of constructive criticism and move on. The reality is, I would internalize it, obsess over it, run screaming through my house, demanding that the gods strike this moron down for writing something so heinous. How dare they demean my work? They don’t even understand it! How could they? They are little more than emotionally stunted children from questionable parentage and…

Well, you get the idea.

So, what to do? I’ve got one of these books on my Nook right now. I’m hoping it’s going to get better. What would you do?