A short while ago, the lovely Sharon Ring of Dark Fiction Review contacted me and asked me to take part in a series of author posts she was collating on the subject of negative reviews. She asked all authors the same series of questions and left it up to the reader to compare and contrast.
Here are my answers:
How do you feel about negative reviews of your work?
Wow, it certainly is painful to read a negative review! Its also humbling, which I think is essential to developing as a writer. I have a number of self-support mechanisms I levy at myself. One: That the reviewer was not my target audience and therefore I should be pleased they hated my story. Two: They’re right – this bit was rubbish and deep down inside I knew it and hoped no one would notice! And three: negative reviews push me to fight harder and produce better work. So I guess after an initial ten minute rant, I mellow, sit back down at my computer and get back to writing my next story.
Are you ever tempted to defend yourself against a particularly negative review?
Not to date. I often write stylistically, say in a 1930s/50s vein, and this is something readers either love or hate. If someone doesn’t like characters talking in slang or has no interest in cool cars, dangerous guys or wild women, they probably won’t ever like my stories, no matter how hard I fight to convince them. Different strokes for different folks I reckon.
Would you ever consider using a negative review as part of the publicity for your next novel or short story, or even consider publishing it on your website alongside more positive reviews?
Are we talking a major slating here? Gosh, that would take some self-belief, wouldn’t it? ‘Here, this person says I’m crap but you might like me’. I love to think that I would have the guts to do that. I would definitely link to a review that was mixed though – we all need a good dressing down now and then!
First published 19th May 2010 –