Now that The Fifth Circle has been released, I’m bracing myself for the inevitable bad reviews. I’m pretty sure I know what the negative reviewers will say: the characters are too unlikable, it’s too preachy, the plot doesn’t move quickly enough, it’s depressing. Bad reviews always hurt, but it’s one of the risks you take when publishing a book. I’ve received a bit of criticism on The Claiming Words, but I haven’t taken it personally. I’m afraid I won’t be as emotionally detached when the inevitable unfavorable reviews come rolling in on The Fifth Circle.
It’s not that I like The Fifth Circle more than my first book. I love The Claiming Words and I want everyone else to love it too. But with The Fifth Circle, I really want readers to understand where I’m coming from. Even if people hate the characters, I want them to walk away from the book with a renewed compassion for those suffering from mental illness or abuse. I want people to view the world around them a little differently. I want people to think about the defining moments in their lives. When I wrote the book, I didn’t set out to lecture or to impose my values on anyone else, but I still hope people think about the story after they read the final page.
Isn’t that something all authors hope for? Isn’t that the point of writing a book? All writers hope to make an impression. We want the reader to laugh, or cry, or think. We want someone to read what we’ve written, even if the reader leaves a scathing review in response. As authors, we have to take the good with the bad, even if that means reading a review that rips our book apart. We hope for the best, but brace for the worst.
6 thoughts on “Bracing for the Worst”
When you put something you really believe in into a book, it’s bound to hurt if people criticise. It’s bad enough if they don’t like the plot, ot the style, or the characters, but if you have tried to make a point with your writing, for people to either miss it, or judge it harshly is criticism that cuts to the quick. All you can do is treat it the same way you would treat someone disagreeing with a controversial point you made. Not everybody will agree, and some will disagree violently. And brace yourself:)
Thanks, Jane. Criticism is rough, but all authors have to grow thick skins, or we’ll never survive. I hope mine is thick enough.
As a reader, I enjoy when a story includes unlikeable characters. I’d rather read that than a bunch of Mary Sues and Gary Stus. You’re right–authors want a response from readers. They want them to have a passionate reaction to the characters. When I hate certain characters, it’s always cool to see them get karma.
Good luck with your publishing journey 🙂
Thanks, Yawatta. You’re right. Some of my favorite books have had unlikable characters. If the characters are too bland, the book won’t hold my attention for long.
Sounds like a great book to me Tricia. 🙂
Bad reviews do really hurt, especially when you’ve worked on a project for years and poured your heart and soul into it, but it is an unavoidable part of the process. I was having a discussion on the same point the other day, trying to work out if it was better to get a bad review where the reviewer clearly hadn’t read or understood the story properly and was making incorrect statements accordingly – like saying an all mushroom soup had too many potatoes in it when it had none at all, OR, if it was worse to get a bad review from someone who clearly read the whole thing but still hated it. Still can’t decide which is worse. The first is just plainly frustrating – I remember one reviewer said my book was just like Harry Potter, which made me laugh as I’ve never read any HP and haven’t seen any of the films so really could not have been influenced in any way by Rowling’s writing. But the second, just plain hurts as it calls into question not only your vision, but your ability to make it manifest, your ability as a writer. Really tough and unfortunately it doesn’t get any easier, but you HAVE to concentrate on all those countless positive reviews too. Look at the negative criticisms, take what you need to grow and improve and leave the rest and remember the people who loved it! 😀