A few months back I did a post on handling private criticism. Today, I’m going to attempt a post on public criticism and how to handle it.
The fact is, whenever you put yourself out there, whether it be posting a picture you took of what you considered to be a beautiful sunset on a public site, putting a video of yourself on YouTube, going on TV or the Radio–even if it’s for a 2-minute story on how you got ripped off by an Internet scam, or write a book and have it published for all to see, you’re putting yourself out there to be criticized. Sorry, but that’s the best sugarcoating I can do.
When (not if, but when) you’re criticized you can do one of two things:
1. Sulk, cry, go hide under a rock and completely disappear from the Internet as if you never took that picture, posted that video of you eating fifteen cherry pies at last year’s state fair or wrote that “dreadful” book.
2. Laugh it off. Everyone says, “Stick and stones can break my bone, but words can’t ever hurt me.” That’s a crock of crap. Words do hurt. Broken bones (and even flesh wounds) can heal faster than the hurt inflicted by words.
[Notice there is NO option 3 of fighting back. This is futile and can only make YOU look like a real moron. This is one of those case where you do NOT fight fire with fire. You graciously accept their nasty words and then go behind their backs and mock the reviewer. (Sorry any reviewers who are reading this!)]
- Write a review of the review. Go into Word and write a review just as snarky as theirs if you wish, but make sure you do it in WORD and leave it there. Analyze whatever you want. Their review was posted publicly, it’s your right to review it if you wish. It’s actually quite calming and you wouldn’t believe the amount of creativity that starts flowing when you do this! But as I said, leave it there.
- Make a joke about it. I have a book that was labeled OTTT, over the top trashy. While I wasn’t thrilled to get such a…er…unique assessment of my book, it really didn’t hurt my feeling so I’ve actually let myself embrace this one a little. The writer of this particular review probably had no idea how much milage I was going to get out of that review! And oh, I’ve ridden it a long way. It’s a great way to open up conversations when people I don’t know ask me what I write. I say, “Smut.” People either laugh or get a strange look of shock on their face, and if they dare say they don’t believe me, I proudly proclaim, “One of my books was labeled OTTT–over the top trashy!” A review doesn’t have to have a four or a five next to it to turn it into something positive–good “lines” are found in all sorts of reviews.
- Consider the source. Was the person another author who left the review (sadly it’s a large percentage of other authors or aspiring writers who leave overly critical reviews)? If it’s one of these, then don’t take it to heart. They’re probably jealous. Was it a person who only leaves bad reviews? Then don’t let it bother you. While some people only review books they like, there are others who only like to pick books apart, and your masterpiece was just in their way that day. When people only have negative things to say, it makes it harder to trust their opinions. Was what they said true? This is often the hardest thing. Did you really mix up your facts or make your heroine a shrew? Did you neglect to have your book edited?
- Don’t dwell on it. No matter how you choose to handle your pain: scarfing junk food, crying on your girlfriend’s shoulder, reviewing their review, assessing their review and the true facts and arguments that were presented, do not let it consume you. Some might say not to spend any energy on this and I can respect that, but for some of us it’s easier to “let it go” if you DO at least acknowledge it. But acknowledging it and dwelling on it are two very different things. Have a set amount of time you’re willing to devote to this, say 10 minutes (or less). Then when those 10 are done, say to yourself, the attention I’m giving that tweet, review, comment, or whatever is done. It doesn’t matter anymore. I’ve shed my last tear, consumed my last bonbon and written my last snarky word about it. It’s done. You cannot dwell on it and let it consume you or you’ve just let that other person win and it’s not worth it.
- Remember your book is not for everyone. I know it’s hard, but not everyone is going to like your writing style or your characters, nor are they all going to get your jokes. It’s life and it’s 100% okay.
And if all else fails, go on Jimmy Kimmel and read the mean tweets about yourself like these people: