Tuesday, June 26, 2012

There's More To Being An Author Than...


I was told at the very beginning of my career that most people can tell a story, but far fewer can craft a novel.  Now that I've been "crafting" for nearly a dozen years, I've learned there's one element that's even harder to achieve...a tough skin.

Lately, since Kindle downloads have become so popular, and free, in a lot of cases, some pretty snarky and hurtful reviews are being posted.  When I see one of my peers lamenting the cruel and cutting words that have been posted about their release, my advice is always, "you have to be thick-skinned."  Easier said than done. 

Suppose you and your child were shopping and someone took one look at the fruit of your loins and started pointing and laughing.  What if that person made unnecessary and uncalled for cruel remarks about how your child looked so different from others, or had characteristics that made him/her stand out? How would you feel?

Well, I pose this question, because as authors, our books are the fruit of our labors.  We pour our hearts and souls into these works, creating within strict publishing guidelines, trying to confine the words inside the box popularity demands, all the while trying to create within our works of "fiction," the element of "non-fiction" that connects the readers with the story.  So, when someone attacks, our first instinct is to become defensive and fight back.  Since we can't confront the person face-to-face, that usually means we leave comments that undoubtedly make no difference at all to the person who felt the need to be hurtful.  Misery loves company, you know.

Bear in mind, speaking for myself and others, I'm sure, I appreciate constructive feedback, because that's how I learn to make my next novel better.  What I can't deal with is the nastiness and obvious need to be hurtful I've seen in so many reviews left for my friends.  I've been fortunate to only have a few.  Is it hard to walk away and not want to challenge the person?  You bet. 

My mother taught me, "if you can't say anything kind or helpful, then don't say anything at all."  If you must leave a poor review, at least recognize something good, because books wouldn't be published unless someone thought they had merit.  I've read tons of books I didn't personally enjoy, but tearing them apart on a public venue only makes me look like the idiot.  What I see as a mediocre book, someone else might consider their favorite read.  Taste's differ--one person's steak is bologna to another.

I've written this post today as a reminder to myself that no matter what an author writes, there is always going to be someone out there to find fault.   It's human nature when a person is unhappy to try and drag someone else down to that level. The only thing we can do as authors...refuse to acknowledge the BULLYS who cry out for attention by being unkind to others.  Yes, reviews posted without constructive criticism are just another form of bullying.  Rule number one:  Refuse to participate.  Yep...I'm pointing at myself.


Ciara Gold said...

Love your visual on the "bully" and yep, a thick skin is definitely a plus, but honey, you write so well and you have great stories, you have nothing to worry over. A bad review is just what you said, a bully with nothing better to do with their time.

Zoe Childs said...

I like the bully visual too. I find that people commenting on anything in general are just rude. If you take a look at youtube clips, editorials on MSNBC, you name it. There's bound to be a commenter that doesn't have anything good to say.

Nancy Jardine said...

I totally agree with you, Ginger. It's not always easy to write a review when you've not really enjoyed the book but have committed to writing a review. Finding something positive might take a bit longer, but it's necessary!

Ginger Simpson said...

Thanks to everyone (all three of you) who commented. I wasn't so much lamenting for myself as I was for many peers who have fallen victim to the smoking gun of some reviewers. It also seems that as an author, my opinion is less valued because it certainly can't be based on the fact that I know a good read when I see one after going through the "writing" rigors for nigh on to a dozen years, rather just plain old friendship and obligation. I'm not that shallow, sadly, and you'll find most of my written reviews do have high marks, but if I can't say something positive, I'd rather keep quiet.

Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Manic Readers

Manic Readers

She Writes

Historical Fiction Books

Readers and Writers of Distinctive Fiction