After what happened earlier this year, I find it unbelievable that certain views are still being perpetuated by authors, namely that people who write a bad review about your book, either on review sites, blogs or on amazon, are mean and jealous, are would-be writers green with envy that your book got published and theirs didn’t, and want to attack you on a personal level. Oh and apparently their mommy has never told them that if you haven’t anything nice to say you should keep your mouth shut. In other words, the concept of free speech is highly overrated, so please let’s get rid of it.
I’m the first to admit to yelling “you stupid cow!” at my ‘puter whenever I find a bad review of my book. But I neither try to get the review taken down, nor do I attempt to intimidate the person who posted it. Because if a reader doesn’t like a book, it’s her right to talk about it.
Do I think that “CheetahDemon” wanted to attack me personally when she gave CASTLE OF THE WOLF the one-star review on amazon? Do I think that she wanted to attack me when she wrote, “I don’t want to insult the writer or any of the readers who enjoyed this piece, but there just wasn’t enough going on to keep me entertained, and I had a hard time empathizing with any of the characters”? No. And why should I? I don’t know her; she doesn’t know me. How then could her review constitute a personal attack?
Do I think that Cheryl Sneed, who gave BEWITCHED a D on AAR, is a would-be writer hating my guts for getting published? No, absolutely not. She is simply a reviewer who didn’t like the book. Obviously, I don’t agree with the things she wrote about BEWITCHED, but that doesn’t change a thing about the fact that the novel didn’t work for her.
Readers and reviewers don’t owe the author anything. In most cases, readers and reviewers don’t even know the author and have never met her. They only have the book, a product which they might or might not like. I for one certainly don’t envision the author when I read a novel. I might feel some sort of sentimental attachment to an author whose books I particularly enjoyed, for example, I feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I think of Rosemary Sutcliff, Dorothy Dunnett, and Gillian Bradshaw. But as I’ve never met any of these three ladies, it’s not a personal attachment as such, it’s more a love of their author voice and their author persona.
When you become a professional writer aka when you sign that publishing contract, you should be aware that in that very moment your book becomes a product. A product which is produced, marketed, consumed and reviewed. You might have bled your heart’s blood all across the pages, yet that’s of no interest to anybody and that’s not how you should regard your book. Your book is not part of you, it’s not your child, you have to regard it as being separate from you. Reviews only criticize books, not you as a person. If you want to be an author, you have to learn to see the difference. If you can’t do that, well, then don’t sign the contract!