19 March 2015

Are You Dealing With Bad Reviews?

I had started a comment on a blogger friend's article and decided to create an article instead because it had grown larger and more complex than what I believe is appropriate for a comment. Thank you, Auden, for inspiring this post.

I'll quote the original question which prompted this response: 

There's a ton of advice out there on how to deal with bad reviews. They like to say "dwell on the good reviews." What if you don't have any glowing reviews to off-set the negative/indifferent ones?

I've had my two short stories on Amazon since 2012 and one of them has exactly one review and the other a whopping five reviews. I can tell you this much. I didn't ask for reviews, but when I got them, I was pleased. I'm far from inspired by the numbers, but I'm flattered by and appreciate the favorable responses by those who appreciated my work. However, I've not written or produced much these days and that makes me sad.

On the contrary, though a bad review has to hurt, it's not a lost cause, because bad reviews are those things that prompt you to explore and improve! Especially if you're passionate about storytelling.

Here are some questions to ask yourself if you feel you're not getting the feedback you desire. Do you attend a lot of writing conferences? I know they can be expensive, but the advice and information you walk away with is so wonderful! Have you joined a writing critique group? In-person group sessions can help your writing out quite a bit. Don't shrink away from advice and constructive criticism. It's out there. 

I've joined both, the Tallahassee Writers Association and the Florida Writers Association. Both organizations have welcomed me in such ways I can't even explain. You need to be around people who are driven and wired the same way you are in order to learn the lessons and solutions of the trade. These folks are willing to be there for you because their struggles are the same. 

Lethal Injection, The Seed is 7 pages, received almost 400 downloads, and I have 5 reviews, 1 from a relative. The story has no action but is described as powerful. How does that happen? Writing classes, conferences, critiques, and encouragement helped my confidence in putting the story out there. It's the readers who will figure out if it works or if it doesn't. If it doesn't work, I agree, it would be helpful if readers would provide better feedback. Unfortunately, they are not required to give anything of value. It's other writers who will fill that void.

So how do we improve as writers and storytellers? Stephen King advises that we read, read, and read some more. However, how do you take the time to read if you're pumping out novel after novel? After all, Dean Koontz does it! He has an excuse. He's famous and people buy his books because it's branded already. Come on! He's Dean Koontz. 

If you don't have the time to read much, do like I do. Audio books! They are great because I pop them in on my way to work, and they start up again when I'm driving home. 


Hope I've been helpful in some ways.

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