In which 80 Books Blog discusses and debates hot topics in publishing. This week, we talk bloggers, reviews, and the strained relationship with authors.
“Really, Hagrid, if you are holding out for universal popularity, I’m afraid you will be in this cabin for a very long time.” –Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Heather: Maybe this question could be better phrased as “Should authors expect bad reviews?” Well, yeah, they should. Your book will not be universally liked. And the less time you spend on your manuscript, the more time people will spend tearing it apart. In our introduction, we briefly mentioned that if we give a bad review, an author shouldn’t take it personally. 80 Books Blog will keep our reviews strictly about the work itself.
You say: The book is an extension of me, and that means you’re criticizing me. A part of being a writer, and the writing process in general, is drafting and editing. Constructive criticism is extremely helpful in this regard. I’ve noticed that authors can be blinded by their own stubbornness, that they do not see that reviews are helpful. In traditionally published works, a book has gone through numerous edits before it was even submitted to an agent, who in turn may have a few rounds of editing. Then if it’s acquired, an editor will also suggest more edits. And so it goes. If you are self-publishing, my biggest advice is to edit as much as possible. As readers, as a writer, and anyone who is involved in the process of making a book, we strive for the book to be the best it can be. If someone doesn’t like your work, but they don’t offer anything you can take away to become a better writer, then move on.
Tqwana: Authors have two options when it comes to reviews: 1. don’t read them at all, or 2. read them, but don’t complain when they aren’t all sunshine and daisies. We’re not suggesting you read reviews to tailor your writing to each and every reviewers’ desires. That’s impossible. But, if someone points out a giant plot hole or obvious inconsistencies, be mindful of that with your next book.
On the other hand, I know there’s a bullying problem with some reviewers, but if your idea is to ban all negative reviews and/or reviewers, then you’re in the wrong business. Expecting everyone to say only nice things about your book isn’t realistic. If that’s what you want, stick with option 1.
So, your editor/beta reader said nothing but good things about your first draft? I’d fire that person immediately. They do you no favors. No one has a good first draft. Or a second. Or a third. There are New York Times and USA Today best-selling authors who have written 10 drafts of one book and thrown out 30,000 words of a draft before their manuscript even gets to an agent.
Writing is hard. And time-consuming. I think one of the issues could be authors trying for a quick turn-around time. No one’s saying that you have to take 10 years to write an opus, but it should take you more than a month or two. Readers can tell the difference and they will let you know in their reviews. In that aspect, yes, authors should take bad reviews seriously.