Tag Archives: Before I Fall

IWSG: Bad reviews are a tonic for the writer’s soul

First up, baby update! Mackenzie is now three and a half months old and is developing a wonderfully cheeky personality. Here are some recent shots…

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“Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!” Alex J Cavanaugh

Moving on…

For this month’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group post, I’m going to discuss how bad reviews can make you feel better. Yes, you read that correctly, I said better. Before you start thinking I’m crazy, let me explain. I’ve never felt better by reading a bad review of my own work. That always makes me feel a little hurt. But to remind myself that opinions are subjective, I will occasionally go and read negative reviews of a book I love.

For example, I adored Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall. When I reviewed it, I said, ‘I highly recommend… [this book] to teens as I think it could help them to identify – and maybe even challenge – the nonsensical conventions, relationships and hierarchies that exist within their own school.’

Yet, here’s what others thought:

“Literally the worst book I have read this year. After all the hype this book received, I was excited to finally get my hands on it from PBS. Let’s talk about a let down.” Review on Goodreads

“This book is entirely predictable. If you are an individual with any kind of empathy or soul, you know where this is going. The only question you ask yourself is why does it take so long to get there- that’s the first reason I had to stop reading.” Review on Goodreads

OUCH! Thankfully, nobody has said anything nearly that harsh about my work. But that’s not the point. The point is: people’s taste in fiction is incredibly subjective. Just because one person (or even a handful of people) didn’t connect with your work, doesn’t mean what you’ve written is bad. It just means it wasn’t to their liking.

Putting your work out there to be judged by the masses takes courage, and I think anyone who’s done it deserves recognition for their bravery. So if you’ve published something, give yourself a pat on the back for having the guts to put yourself out there. And if you’ve felt the blow of bad reviews, take heart – you’re in good company!

“I really do not like his style of writing at all … His prose is lumpy and I feel like it’s completely devoid of character.” Review of The Power of One

“I don’t actually hate this book or maybe I do; I can’t make up my mind. There were plenty of things in this book for me to hate about it, that’s for sure.” Review of The Time Traveler’s Wife 

“If I could give this no stars, I would. This is possibly one of my least favorite books in the world, one that I would happily take off of shelves and stow in dark corners where no one would ever have to read it again.” Review of To Kill A Mockingbird

What do you think?

Have you ever read bad reviews to lift your own spirits? (it sounds bad when put like that, doesn’t it?)

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