Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Do Writers Get Upset Over Bad Reviews?

This is an interesting question. The answer is very simple: Yes, but we pretend we don’t. As a writer, whether you’re an author, blogger, screenwriter, etc. it doesn’t matter. You are subject to scrutiny by normal people and lunatics alike.

When you write, you put yourself out there and you hope people will like it and no matter how many people do, somehow our artsy brains fixate on the asshole who doesn’t like us. It takes a long time to let this go.

I remember years ago I was doing a show in this shitty one nighter and it was horrible. Lots of cowboy hats and large belt buckles, and I’m not sure how I ended up there. Anyway, I was bombing and was thinking at least I should try to ride the mechanical bull. But there was one table of college kids who thought I was awesome.

The next comic went on and was a road act and killed. They loved him, except for the table of college kids who liked me and thought he was terrible. I was OK with the night, I still got paid, it was just a bad night and clearly, not my audience. The other comic and I drove back together and all he could talk about was that table of college kids who hated him. He had the rest of the audience… from Hee Haw enjoying him. But he couldn’t let it go.

My point is, let it go. Whether you’re a writer or not. In your life, just let it go. Not everyone is going to like you. That’s just not how life works. And if you think everyone likes you, someone is lying to you, or everyone is afraid to make you upset because of some kind of psychological history. But the point is, it doesn’t matter. The people that will matter to you will like you. The people that don’t, don’t.

But the internet makes being a troll all the more inviting for assholes. It’s anonymous. You can say things you would never say to someone in person, and you don’t have to sign your name. You can even do it in 140 characters or less.

Amazon reviews or blog comments are very interesting when you break them down. I think 70% total are legitimate, but maybe less. On the positive side, you have fake good reviews by friends, and on the negative side it’s more complicated. Now you have people who write long negative reviews or comments to draw you to their own bullshit, a website or a self-published book. That’s how you want to get fans? By trashing someone else? Really?!

Misguided self-promotion aside, how many well thought out negative reviews or comments have you read? Very few. They are filled with anger, emotion, and often misspellings. People don’t get it and get angry that they don’t. They get angry that you don’t think like them, in their tiny little lizard brain capacity. It’s surprising they can type with prehensile appendages, but whatever. Oh, but if you do get a well thought out negative review with constructive criticism, they are at least worth reading. That’s about 1 in 1,000.

So do negative reviews bother me personally? Sure. But not as much as they used to. I’ve been learning to let things go. Not easy but I’m learning. Sometimes I’ll just reread some of the amazing positive emails or reviews I’ve received on how my book has helped someone. Then the negative reviews mean even less.

But the truth about negative and even positive reviews still holds: There is, guaranteed, one way to never ever get any bad reviews or comments: Don’t write anything.

Good luck and keep writing.

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