Yes, it’s true. I’ve gotten a couple of one star reviews since Vodnik came out. Both over on Goodreads. (Well, technically there are 3 one star reviews over there. But two of them are the same review by the same person, one for her review site, and one for her personally. I’m only counting that as one.) They came out a while ago, and I didn’t really mention them. Mainly because one doesn’t typically go about highlighting reviews that didn’t like your book (although honestly, a lot of that review seemed pretty positive to me. “One thing I did notice was that this book has the same feel as Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Now, I absolutely hated the Percy Jackson series, so there could potentially be a lot of fans of this novel.” I’d be through the roof ecstatic to have a book as well liked as Percy Jackson. Also–“This book has a silly feel to it that the younger generation, and fans of the Percy Jackson series, would greatly appreciate.” Not the worst recommendation a book could get, you know?)
In any case, I always knew that there would be people who wouldn’t like my book. There are certainly plenty of books out there that I personally don’t like a whole lot–or at all. (I just don’t shout it from the rooftops. Because . . . it wouldn’t feel right to me, somehow. I know–I give some movies terrible reviews. Scathing even. And it can be a lot of fun to really tear down a piece you loathed. I do that with movies, because I watch a ton of movies, and I’m not a creator of movies. Once you start creating what you’re reviewing . . . I’m not sure you can really impartially review it anymore. Does that make sense?)
So like I said–I knew the dislikes would come. I just wasn’t sure how I would respond to them. Would it be soul crushing, to have strangers say they hated my book? (Or worse–to have friends say it? I have yet to have a bad review from a friend, but I can’t imagine there’s not some of you out there–friends who read the book and thought it was just okay. Or thought it was pretty crummy. I understand. It’s okay. And thanks for not sharing your views with everybody else. 🙂 )
I haven’t been crushed by the reviews. Haven’t even really been phased by them. Art is subjective, and writing is art. It’s a matter of taste. Go to any Amazon page you want, and you’re almost bound to find some one star reviews. Yes, some are written by boneheads who are reviewing the price, not the product. Or who have an agenda and are trying to promote themselves by tearing other people down. But you’ll also find plenty of people who just disagree about how good something is.
I think it helps me that I’ve had my fair share of arguments over what movies are good and what movies are bad. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to taste. (Well, if you can’t justify your opinion, or you’re using a crummy system to evaluate it, then maybe–but there are going to be some people who think chocolate ice cream is awesome and vanilla is just too bland and boring, and others who hate the cloy sweetness of chocolate and love their smooth creamy dreamy vanilla.)
So I’m relieved that I was okay with the bad reviews. I hoped I would be. Maybe it would be different if most of my reviews were bad, with just a few positive ones here and there. But they haven’t been. Overwhelmingly positive, is how I’d phrase it. I’m really happy for that. But at the same time, I’m two books removed from working on Vodnik now. My agent is sending Tarnhelm out to editors next week, and I’m coming up on 20,000 words into The Valentine Affair (title likely to change). So there’s quite a bit of separation between me and Vodnik now. I would love love love to write a sequel (get all your friends to buy Vodnik! Buy Vodnik for all your friends!), but right now, I’m busy trying to figure out what in the world happens next in my current project. (Speaking of which, I really ought to go finish today’s word count. I still have 690 words to go.
How about you–have any of you out there had works reviewed already? Poorly? How did you handle it? Thoughts in general? Please share! And if you haven’t written a review of Vodnik yet, why not give it a try? (If it’s going to be a good review, that is. If it’s negative, I think you should think it over some more. Like for a year or two.)