June 21, 2018

Authors You Can Survive and Thrive After a Bad Review

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

I start by saying, I knew better. I advise authors not to post anything on their social media that could be perceived as controversial. Honestly, I didn’t think my post last Friday morning on Facebook was controversial, but in this current atmosphere of rudeness, some “friends” felt a need and their right to express their opinion and correct my viewpoint. My post didn’t ask for others’ opinions. It was merely a sharing of a news article with my thoughts.  

After deleting the original post I posted this, “Sooo, this morning, I made the mistake of voicing my feelings on a news story and after numerous comments escalating to being called names, I deleted the post and the increasingly attacking comments. Facebook is not a venue to share thoughts without being attacked for voicing one’s opinion. Put a fork
🍴in me, I’m done. What happened to respecting everyone’s opinion?” 

The post I deleted was only up for 48 minutes. The post above garnered over 84 supportive comments. I decided to turn my experience into a lesson for all authors. I sure learned something. 

Hear me again, keep your social media about your writing and your book. Think sales, sales and more sales. 

Fact. We live in a currently rude culture. As an author, you have to expect negative comments on your book. People love hiding behind their computers, giving their unfiltered opinions on the various venues social media provides. I recently had an author ask me if I had left a mediocre rating just because the reviewer’s online name had my first name. I assured the author it wasn’t me. As a staff member of Southern Writers Magazine, we are forbidden to review books. It’s unfortunate the author had suffered angst jumping to the wrong conclusion that I (someone who had been a beta reader of his book) might have left a mediocre Amazon review. Authors we have to know, gone are the days of “don’t say anything, unless you have something nice to say.” 

Reviews are subjective to how a person’s day is going. Sounds simple,- but it’s true. Was someone rude to them and they happened up on your book? Lucky you. Their review has nothing to do with YOU and everything to do with THEM. It makes them feel in control of their day and powerful with no consequences because they are hiding in cyberspace. I’ve often wondered when someone has left a bad review after they hit the send button if there is a rush of endorphins or if they feel any remorse in what they did to another person’s day. As an author taking anything but a glowing review to heart can be debilitating and can take its toll by you not wanting to write again. It hurts your heart and bruises your ego. You can’t let the “trolls” get you down. 

Bible Study teacher, Jennifer Rothschild, blogged Monday about seeing “something good in bad situations you’ve gotta look beyond your circumstance. You’ve gotta look through the 4:8 filter!” She was referring to Biblical scripture of  Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Jennifer goes on to say, “We can all spy something “good” or “lovely” or “true” by applying some 4:8 to whatever we face. We may not be able to remove the bad, but when we apply some 4:8, we will renew our minds. Everything changes when we decide to dwell on only what meets the 4:8 standard.”

In Danny Wallace book, F You Very Much, Understanding the Culture of Rudeness-and What We Can Do About It, quotes Dr. Amir Erez an expert in positivity and positive thinking. Erez says, “One of the reasons rudeness is so devastating is that it affects cognition. When people encounter rudeness they can’t think in the same way. We know now that it affects working memory. It’s used in reasoning, in decision making and in determining our behavior. That’s the part of the process where everything is happening. Planning, goal management, memory—pretty much everything is dependent on working memory.”

Authors need to try to ignore and resist lingering over reviews that are less than faltering. Develop a “lovable thick skin.” What do I mean by that? Tune out the voices outside of you. Put your ego, hurt by bad reviews, in the closet under the sweaters you never wear. You know those ugly Christmas sweaters. Bury that ego. Remember for some people it’s hard to find the good when they aren’t looking for it.

The only thing you need to think about is loving the voices that help you write your current writing project or start a new one. Stay on target for your next book and your career as an author. Does your work meet the 4:8 standard? Put things in perspective.  You’re living your dream, writing. 

I’m taking a big chance by asking this question. What do you think?

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