Everyone’s a critic. Everyone has an opinion. And of course, everyone’s entitled to their opinion.
But what happens when a critic or a reviewer or a book club member reads your book and doesn’t like it? What do you do when you read a cutting review of the book you toiled over for months (or years)?
Novelist Alice Hoffman had a book release in 2009 called The Story Sisters. She received a less-than-glowing review by The Boston Globe’s Roberta Silman. Unfortunately Hoffman wasn’t able to dismiss the review as one person’s opinion and move on. Gawker, an Internet gossip site captured all the dirty details. Lashing out on Twitter, Hoffman posted 27 Tweets in response to that review, including posting the contact information for Silman in hopes that Hoffman’s fans would call the reviewer out on the carpet.
I wonder if Ms. Hoffman is wishing she could take back her words. Well, actually — if she could take back her Tweets. I think that the answer to that is a resounding yes because her Twitter page is no longer online.
Very few writers please all the critics all the time, and most likely there is no writer who’s ever accomplished that feat. But the issue lies in how you deal with the criticism. It’s tough to receive negative feedback whether you’re a yet-to-be published author or one who’s had several books printed.
Some strategies to deal with the disappointment?
Call your agent/editor/mother/spouse/best friend/significant other and vent your frustration. Go for a walk. Write something. Take a nap. Write a private email to your critic if you must. Still, if the last option is your choice, first give it a day or two, and consider praying about the words you’ll deliver.
But don’t go and lose it online.
Perhaps the best course of action for Ms. Hoffman would have been to say nothing. What’s accomplished in slamming the reviewer for her words? It just doesn’t look professional, even if you think the other party acted poorly.
Author Angela Hunt cautions writers to never answer a critic publicly. That sounds like good advice. Too bad Ms. Hoffman didn’t receive such counsel.
Want a laugh? Here’s one author’s humorous response to criticism.
What’s your advice to someone suffering the sting of criticism or rejection?