I knew it was inevitable. All things must pass. But even when you mentally and emotionally prepare yourself for something, still it gets under your skin. I checked the Amazon web site today to see if any more reviews came in from members of the Amazon Vine, readers who received advanced copies of my novel. Sure enough, I got my first 2-star review. And it really stings.
I’m not naïve or idealistic enough to believe that the 5-star reviews would go on forever, but I wasn’t really prepared to get slammed. Writing, like any art form, is subjective. But when I read the review, the woman who wrote it portrayed me as a terrible, immature amateur. Couldn’t she have been a little gentler with her criticisms?
Having suffered from a chronic case of rejection over the last 15 years, one would think that my skin is pretty darn thick. And for anyone pursuing a writing career, your skin had better be thick. I thought mine was until I read and reread the horrible review.
Not able to clear it out of my head, I got a brainstorm. I wondered how many prolific, award-winning novelists had gotten poor readers’ reviews. I guess I was buying in to the misery loves company philosophy. So I searched James Patterson, Dan Brown, Michael Connelly, Pat Conroy, John Grisham, Stephen King—and a few more notable writers. Guess what I found? Dozens of 2-star and 1-star reviews, many of them brutal and merciless. Did I feel any relief knowing that the contemporary masters of fiction got crappy reviews? Not by a long shot.
So I took it a step further and searched the classics: Gone with the Wind, Grapes of Wrath, For Whom the Bell Tolls—just to name a few. And even the most famous novelists in history got some pretty terrible reviews.
I pondered my findings for a long time; searching for solace in knowing that even the great ones got kicked in the chops. But you know what? It didn’t help me deal with it one bit. I’m still pissed off and that’s dealing with only one 2-star review. What do you suppose is going to happen when I get a few 1-star reviews? Better fasten your seatbelt.