It’s no fun getting a one-star review on Amazon. What’s worse? Having your 10-year-old son read it in front of you.
When Nick looked up, he was fighting the tears. Trying to stay strong. Trying to act like it didn’t matter.
Then he gave his own critique.
“You know, Mom, some of this is probably true. But, you know what really upsets me? She didn’t criticize your book. She criticized you. And she doesn’t even know you.”
Like Nick, I was fighting the tears. Trying to stay strong. Trying to act like it didn’t matter.
But public criticism is a big deal. And first-time authors are never prepared. I wasn’t.
Now, at this point in the blog, I’m supposed to give you the magic formula. You know, the three-step plan to prepare you for a public flogging. The things I wish I knew. Wish I did. Want you to know. Then, you’ll walk away with some value added, and I can bask in the comments.
But I’m not going to do that.
Don’t get me wrong. If I had a secret sauce I would probably share it. Heck, I’d probably write another book and maybe even make some money off of it. But since that’s not in the plans (and Rachelle would probably give me a hard time about platform), the best I can do is share my story and let you draw your own conclusions.
Here’s how it works. When you’re an author, you are supposed to actually say something. If you’re lucky enough to get people to read what you have to say, some people may actually like it. Others won’t.
Certain gluttons for punishment, like me, end up writing memoirs. So if readers don’t like our story, it means they don’t like us. Plain and simple.
In my case, Chasing Superwoman is a very personal story. It’s my story about my struggles (and failures) being a working mother who admits she is trying to do too much. And while I love Jesus madly, I don’t always act like it. This apparently offended a few readers who told me both publicly and privately that I should really set my priorities straight, act more like a “Christian” and hang up my “worldly” ambition.
Sure, I could feel sorry for myself. I don’t deserve the criticism. It’s not fair. These readers haven’t met me (or my darling children!).
But let’s face it. I kind of asked for it. Didn’t I?
When we tell our stories, we put ourselves out there. We make it personal. We pour out our lives on paper, give people loaded guns, and yell “shoot”!
Which means we have no business complaining about it.
Now, if you’re a fiction author, you’re thinking, “What does this have to do with me? I write fiction. It’s not my story.”
We all know deep down that your first novel is secretly autobiographical and that all the characters are based on your family and friends. So when people criticize your book, you are equally going to feel like they are criticizing you. Trust me.
The good news? We not only live through it, we become stronger. I promise. (I’m going to blog about that next month.)
For now, just know to expect it. And don’t complain about it, ok?
Aspiring authors, are you ready for a one-star review? Old-timers, what’s your advice? And how do you protect those closest to you — like your family — in the process?