The toughest little review

Whenever somebody hates what I write or comes up with a comment/review which I think is wrong, god dammit, or plain insensitive, or missing the point, I go to the Goodreads pages of some of my favorite authors, the ones who are also considered some of the best authors ever, not the obscure ones, and read the reviews they got.

It reminds me that even the best of the best aren’t always understood or loved. They have trolls, flamers, honest people who just didn’t get them, readers who got bored, or who found them superficial or naive, and any number of other people who hated them or disliked them. And it makes me happy, not because they’re fallible, but because it reminds me that there will never be someone great enough to win the whole world over. Not even me. Not even you.

Here’s a few things I like to keep in mind:

1. The book is not the author.

The review is probably not personal.

2. Not everybody likes the same things. Or sees the same things.

They might hate the book because it’s not their thing, really. In which case, tough luck.

3. Sometimes people just understand things wrongly.

I have a hard enough time convincing some people in real life that I’m not pissed at them or whatever. Literature, if subtle enough, can have an even harder time convincing you that you’re not supposed to take things at face value.

4. Flying off the handle makes you look bad.

I’ve seen this happen once too often. The author who attacks his reviewers ends up looking like a dick.

5. Sometimes it’s okay to talk to people.

Some people say “don’t respond, don’t respond, don’t respond, don’t respond”, but that advice doesn’t always work. I think that if somebody looks well-intended, it’s okay to talk to them. Feeding trolls might be an annoying waste of time, but people who just don’t like your work?… Meh, why not. As long as you can do it without accusing or harassing them. I know what a shocking thing it was to have an author pop up and answer to one of my reviews. If he hadn’t been intent on dragging me through the mud for saying his book wasn’t very well written, it would have been fun, exciting, and a bit of an honor to discuss my vision of the book vs. his. As it was, he ended up looking a bit like a dick and people greater than myself showed up and dragged him through the mud instead. Which is why you have to think before you respond…

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