Whether you blog or write self-published books, you’re bound to face criticism for your writings.
In fact, something is wrong if you don’t.
From time to time my books get one-star reviews on Amazon, or I get scathing comments on my blog or nasty private messages, and everything in me may want to jump to my own defence.
But ultimately you can’t please everybody.
Whenever I talk to people who indicate they want to write a book, start a blog or their own podcast, I always encourage it. I’d never pour water on someone’s fire, even if I think they may not actually be a writer or have a talent for it, I will never discourage your dream. I believe we all need an outlet for our expressions.
But I also warn them to make sure their face is flinty — a biblical colloquialism from the late Art Katz, basically meant to say “develop thick skin”.
If you have the uncontrollable urge to Hulk smash someone whenever they write a negative review of something you wrote, you might not be ready to put your writing out there yet.
Don’t get me wrong. I get it. You spend countless hours honing in on your craft, and one of your manuscripts alone represents maybe several weeks non-stop carved out of your time.
You revise and edit more than how much time you spent originally writing your content. Your book is your baby.
It’s hard to face the music when proofreaders, editors and friends find fault or just don’t like something you wrote. Even more so when you share it with the world or publish it on Amazon and you start getting complete strangers’ negative feedback who have no concern whatsoever about whether you’ll read their comments or not.
The internet can be a fun place for those who’d never say things to your face that they unhesitatingly unload on the internet.
But if you’re like the British writer I heard about last week, you probably shouldn’t bother sharing your writing with the world.
A 28-year-old British man, most notable for his 2006 victory on the quiz show Countdown, tracked down a Scottish teenager who’d written a negative review of his self-published novel and shattered a bottle of wine on the back of her head. The aspiring author pleaded guilty to the 2014 assault in a Scottish court Monday, the Mirror reported.
The article also goes on to say about the attack,
Rolland also noted that Brittain “has gained a bit of infamy on Wattpad where he’s known for threatening users who don’t praise him (pray for me),” which turned out to be quite portentous.
Brittain, incensed at the one-star review, apparently tracked down Rolland’s Facebook page, discovering that she lived in Scotland and worked at an Asda supermarket. He allegedly traveled 500 miles from London and found her at the store, crouching to stock a low shelf of cereal boxes. He hit her from behind with a full bottle of wine, leaving her unconscious and with a gash on her head.
Now, the most I’ve ever done is shared my one-star reviews on my Facebook fan pages to let people know and maybe upvote or downvote it if they thought it was warranted. I leave people alone if they’ve read the book and just don’t agree with me, since the majority of my books are meant to persuade the reader to change their mind on something (like divine healing, speaking in tongues…)
In fact, I expect to receive negative reviews since one of the ways I write is to take a subject, not necessarily one that’s controversial, and try showing the side or the angle I think is correct, and with grace, market it to people who feel otherwise.
So I feel like I’ve already had to come to the realization what I say won’t be for everybody.
But the one time I got a review for one of my books that the reviewer admitted they hadn’t even read, yes, I called him on it (or was it a her? I don’t know). I shared it on social media and in no time at all there were a dozen comments taking this person to town for reviewing something without knowing what they were even criticizing.
And during the whole thing, my feelings don’t get hurt, nor do I feel any animosity towards critics like that, even if they’re being unreasonable.
But some people were hulk smashing him with their words and I felt bad about causing that. But I’ve never stalked any of my detractors and smashed a wine bottle on their face.
Like I said, if you struggle that badly with any criticism writing is not for you. Nor is leadership of any kind over any people.
Leadership is not for the thin-skinned, either
I know Christians who’ve got large platforms on the internet and use the pen as a sword and cut individuals down to size, accusing people and ministries by name. But as soon as someone fires back they cry persecution for “telling it like it is”.
I’ve seen some have even quit their ministry because they were so worn out by the “attacks” they would get for what they write, oblivious to the idea they brought it on themselves.
Some can give it, but can’t take it.
I’m also a part of various writers’ groups where authors share their one-star reviews and ask us all to go down-vote it and help each other out. Then when I see the review, I think to myself “well, that was actually a pretty fair review.” In fact, with one fiction book I read, hardly a page swipe would go by on my Kindle without finding a spelling mistake, a malapropism, or even sentences that didn’t begin with capitalized words and the one-star review reflected that. And the one-star review I was asked to go down-vote was hardly mean-spirited, but expressing that it was hard to read the book when it looked like it hadn’t even been through an editor.
Stuff like that has helped me to stop doing review-swaps with other authors.
But if you are a porcupine with venom-filled needles for quills who nobody can touch or get near with their constructive criticisms for fear of your Hulk rage, you’re not ready for when people truly hate your work and want to make you know it.
Until you are, and your face is flinty enough that you don’t want to smash someone else’s in for writing a negative review, I’d keep your manuscript to yourself.