So this might get a bit ranty. I don't know, it's early and I missed breakfast and the Costa Coffee woman forgot to put the mint syrup in my hot chocolate even though I asked twice. And a lot of other people have been talking about this topic recently, so I don't know how new or insightful my view is, but I want to get it off my chest. So.I had a new review for NIGHT AND CHAOS this week
- a three star review, which translates as "I liked it" for that particular reviewer. I'm really happy with that. It was a thoughtful, honest review which highlighted the strengths and weaknesses the reviewer found, and as an author I think that's all I have the right to expect from a review. Obviously I want everyone to feverishly adore my books and form cults around them, but let's be realistic; people don't just form cults at the drop of a hat.*
But you know what? It doesn't actually matter what I think of the review. Because it isn't for my benefit. It's for other readers
. As a writer, you don't get to pick who likes your work. You don't get to dictate what people think of your books
. By all means, hope away. You should
hope that people love it, you should want people to feverishly adore you, especially if you want to make a career out of writing. But you can't make
it happen, and you can't tell reviewers, or any reader, that their opinion of your book was wrong.Art is subjective
. A lot of people love Twilight. I think it's pap. A lot of people hate Megashark v Giant Octopus. I think it's the greatest film spectacle ever. And that's fine. We're all entitled to our opinions. And yes, of course it hurts when someone hates something we love, especially if we created it, but that's life. You've got to man up sometimes and accept that you can't make everyone happy.
Which leads me to three star reviews. I don't think they're negative. I don't at all. I've had plenty and they've all been just like the one above - thoughtful, considered, and honest. So I cannot complain about them. I don't get writers who do, and I don't have a lot of sympathy for them, to be honest. Not just because I don't think reviews are for writers, but because having someone say "I liked your book, here's why," is not anything like, "I hated your book," or even, "I didn't like your book."
It really saddens me that there appears to be a divide between writers and reviewers, or any readers, where writers feel entitled to nothing but praise and readers/reviewers bear the brunt when it doesn't happen
. It saddens me to see two groups of people who should love each other spitting and hissing at each other instead. It's a symbiotic thing, you know? We write, you read. Without one, there's nothing for the other. So where did this culture of entitlement and rudeness come from? I mean, yes, of course no writer should be clapping their hands and singing over a genuinely bad review, especially if it's just a string of abuse, but for pity's sake, instead of crying or throwing shit all over the internet, why not shrug it off, have a big tub of ice cream, or whatever your comfort food of choice is, and write something else?
Because you can't please everyone and you'll drive yourself crazy trying.
I figured that out pretty quickly, long before I decided to try my hand at the publishing business. All you can do as a writer is write something you love, make it as good as it can be, and put it out there. *I have actually started two cults myself. They didn't stick around very long, but I guess in the long run it saved me from having to organise a mass suicide.