I’m a new author, and I fully acknowledge there is a lot about the publishing business that I don’t yet know. But one thing I do know is that not everyone will like my books. I know this intellectually, but apparently subconsciously I’d hoped everyone would think I’m marvelous. What else could explain my shock and dismay when, gasp, I received a bad review? The horror!
My publisher forwarded the review to me, which I guess they will for all the ones they request. I wish they wouldn’t have. I engaged in way too much navel-gazing over it. How could someone not like my hero? Sure, he starts out a bit of a dillhole, but it’s a redemption story. Am I doing something wrong? Should I have had him save a puppy in the beginning? Yes, as I said, way too much navel-gazing.
But realistically, reading a bad review was probably for the best. Fate seems to have a way of knowing just when to knock you down a peg or two, and it was my time. Like when I made fun of my brother for having trouble getting out of our kayak on a Hawaiian vacation, and then when I got out, I not only toppled over our boat, but the Japanese tourists’ kayak next to ours. (On the positive side, one of those women did the cliff jump my brother and I were heading for, and she wouldn’t have if I hadn’t already dunked her. I think she had fun.)
So, I had eagerly scanned the review, deep-down expecting it to be glowing, feeling much too smug with my decision to become a writer, and this was fate’s smack down. A reviewer who just couldn’t stand my leading man. After the initial fifteen minutes of moping, I kicked myself in the butt (metaphorically, of course - I’m not that bendy IRL) and realized sometimes you’ve just got to suck it up. I’m still happy with my life choices, a bad review can’t change that. And in the grand scheme of things, a bad review is such a minor problem, I’m ashamed I even wasted a minute brooding over it. There are people out there with real problems. I’ve had much bigger problems than this. I think as a writer you can become too wrapped up in your own little world. Your mood rises and falls with your Amazon ranking. But that’s not healthy. You’ve got to be able to step back and realize what a small cog you are in the universe. And on a list of what matters in life, someone critiquing your work doesn't even make the top million.
I’m going to keep striving to be a successful writer. I won’t let a bad review or two (or three) stop me. But if I never become a number-one bestseller, that will be okay, too. I’ve got great family and friends, and a job that I love. What the heck do I have to complain about? And if I can’t be philosophical enough to get out of my bad mood, there are always adorable lion and tiger cubs to look at. Yep, that will do it.