Writing–Negative Reviews

LMB stars

It’s kind of blown up lately in the writing community concerning writers attacking readers because they leave less than favorable reviews on their books. If you Google “Goodreads negative reviews” you find all sorts of information and opinions on this business.

Now I’ve only had a few short stories published. I self-published a book of my short stories. I’ve posted some freebie short stories on my blog. Even with ALL of this material out there (I’m being facetious), I’ve never received a negative review.

I’ve never even been told that I suck, at least not in relation to my writing.

However, I have a feeling that I’ll be able to handle negative reviews. Why? Because I worked in retail.

Here are a few examples of how working in retail and receiving negative reviews are similar:

I can’t find anything in this store/Why did you move everything around = I didn’t care for the pacing/theme/characters/story.  This is a constructive complaint. When people would complain about not being able to find things and moving things around, it didn’t bother me much. First of all, I heard it so much it no longer held any meaning. Secondly, I agreed with them. No one hated moving things around more than the employees because then we had to move it, had to remember where it was, and had to deal with the complaints.

Likewise, people that don’t like a character, pace, or theme of a story provide an alternative perspective from all of the people slobbering all over my work. “Like” is a subjective thing and I can’t please everyone. There might be something I can learn from the people I’m not pleasing, providing they can present their point intelligently. If they can’t, well then, it’s going to hold no meaning for me.

I’ll shop somewhere else = I don’t like anything you write. If you want to shop somewhere else, somewhere that pleases you, then by all means, go and do just that. Likewise, if you don’t like anything I write, then please stop wasting your time with me and go read something by an author that you’ll enjoy. I appreciate you giving me a try, but if things aren’t working out, then we need to go our separate ways.

The one big difference between these two scenarios is that if you don’t like anything I write, I admit I’m a little bummed that my writing to jive with you; if you want to shop somewhere else, please do, and take your attitude with you (though I know you and your attitude will be back next week).

You suck = You suck. Yeah, “you suck” and really any sort of name calling, trolling, or self-entitled whining are pretty much the same no matter what the circumstance. These negative reviews are as prevalent as the people that insulted me while I worked retail and for very similar reasons. On the Internet, a person can hid behind the mask of anonymity and be a raging jack ass without fear of consequences or punishment. Working retail, people think they can treat you like garbage because you work a crap job and the customer is always right.

Well, the customer isn’t always right (and no retail gig I’ve ever had has paid me enough to put up with personal abuse and I didn’t and when I didn’t, I was accused by said asshole customer of being rude, go figure) and neither is a reviewer.

Thankfully, through the virtue of slogging in retail for several years, that when my first negative review comes, I’ll be prepared and I’ll know exactly how to handle it.

I’ve got the coping skills already in place.

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