27 August 2012

What To Tell Yourself When You Get a Bad Review

So, about 12 hours after I self published my short story, I received an extremely negative review. It was a review I was very glad to be at work reading (I'd rather not explain tears to my coworkers).

And while I was coaching myself to not cry, I kept telling myself one thing that I wanted to share with my fellow writers.

For those of us who are out there, trying to get our work read, critiqued, reviewed, published or even if you are just at the simple state of needing to get your thoughts and ideas down on paper, remember this:

You are one of the few people in this world who are expressing yourself and putting your creative self out on display for the world to see. No it may not be perfect. It may never be perfect. You may get a sea of negative reviews that often times cut very deep. And you may cry. You may even cry in the face of the critic who have the best of intentions.

But if you have ever spoken to a person that does not consider themselves creative, you are something of a marvel. You are creating. Have you ever thought of what exactly it is you do? You create scenes that are coming just from you. You write characters and create worlds that come straight from your very own mind. How many people get to create something from their imagination?

There may be millions of writers dreaming to be published and even millions more already published, but there are many more people out there that don't consider themselves creative in any way. And what a gift it is to be one of the ones who are creative and are expressing that creativity. To be one of those putting that creativity out there and actually allowing that creativity to be analyzed, critiqued, shredded, and pulled apart. How brave is that?

And you know what? I am glad I self published my short story before I read this review. I needed to let this story go. I had spent ten years writing it and rewriting it. I was done with it and couldn't rewrite another word. I wanted it to have a home. It's home may not be the glorious mansion of a literary magazine. It's home is more of a dilapated studio apartment that is called the "home of self-published stories read by very few." But I gave it a home. And to me, that matters.

And I now understand with an even greater depth why people do go the route of self publishing. You know why? Because it is extremely satisfying. I can now move on from this story. I may never have more than just a handful read it and if I'm lucky, maybe someone will review it in a way that is a tad less harsh than the review I received this morning. But at the end of the day, my story has a home. And isn't that what we all really want for our stories?

And whether I will do the same for my current fantasy novel is something I will have to see when it is done.

But for now, as I lick the wounds of rejection that I know so well, I will tell myself the little speech I told you guys. I create. You create. And that is a beautiful, beautiful thing.


  1. That is so inspiring, Nicole! So far I think I’ve lived in that protected bubble of having had nothing but helpful critiques and constructive criticisms and I’ve never experienced the shock of the unbiased negative review. Now that I’ve got my first work going out there, that has been my biggest fear and even though I’m so excited to be published, it’s tied in with a knot in my stomach that worries about how bad my reviews will hurt me. And they will hurt, I’m sure of it. But you just gave me some grounding to go back to and remember when this does happen. Thank you for the wisdom, and thank you for blazing the path!!!

  2. I have received a share of negative feedback too. Although my initial reaction is to usually flat out reject everything that this unbalanced feedback or review claims, for not everyone needs to like what I write, I have to admit that I believe that in the long run those same negative reviews have improved my writing most. After eating a away a piece of my hearth, many also wake me up again. They help me realize what I really want my writing to be about and sometimes they persuade me to make necessary changes I was first too afraid of making.

    If I read this post correctly than this bad review made you realize even more clearly how much you love to write. I think that everything will be allright as long as bad reviews make you realize that.

  3. Its just an opinion. That's all. There are critics every where. I've read wonderful reviews on things only to be disappointed. It's all good.



  4. I was brave a couple of weeks back. I offered a sample of my recent work to a writers blog for critique. I had a range of comments from readers and some of it crushed me. But then I got up and dusted myself off determined to kick som a**!

    I guess it's how you use what is thrown your way and what you turn it into. I loved reading your positivity; even though I felt bad for what you had to read and how it made you feel.

    I think it's wonderful that you went out and self-published ... an inspiration, especially to someone like me who may even consider the self publishing route one day... ;0)
    Keep going Nicole; keep creating. x

  5. I admire you so much for taking that step and self publishing. A negative review sucks...but I suppose it's sort of just part of a writer's world, right? Not everyone is going to be a fan.

    And you are absoutely right. What we do as artists is a beautiful, beautiful thing and I am so grateful that this is something I am passionate about.

    Keep your head up!

  6. Thanks Nicole for your strength, your example and your wonderful post!

  7. Great post! Rejection is tough for anyone, and sometimes we have to remind ourselves that it might not be us, but it could be the taste of the reviewer. We can never please all the people all the time. And then there are some people out there who just like to complain. And then there are legitimate reviews that we really should consider so we can improve ourselves. But most important, we must be happy with what we create and produce. Thanks for your inspiration, Nicole! Take care!

  8. It is just someone's opinion. You had the guts to go out, create, and share - and that is what matters.

  9. thanks for encouragment. i get polar oposite views. favorite was"crazy good read. funniest was "worst book i ever read" when she obviously hadn't.

  10. I had to accept long ago that not everyone will think my work is brilliant. Some will like it, some will hate it, but I know what I put into it. Those who dislike it...well...I don't lose too much sleep over them.

  11. Reviews are merely opinions. Everyone's opinions are different, and you can't please everyone, nor should you try. However, even a negative review that is offered with a helpful spirit can actually be useful. Some of the feedback that has most helped me grow as a writer has been 'negative'. A "I love it!" can be great to hear, but it gives me nothing upon which I can improve, and if I'm honest with myself, I KNOW I can always improve as a writer.

    Take what you can out of it for things that you can turn into areas of positive improvement, but don't take the whole thing to heart. It's just one person's opinion.

    Hang in there and keep on writing!

  12. Nicole, the fact that you put something out there puts you one step above. For as many who may have negative reviews, there are those numbers who will love your work. Nature of the beast. Even Stephen King has haters. :)

  13. That's so great you self-published! Good for you! It's something I've been thinking about for some time. Thank you for sharing this experience and turning something painful into something uplifting and inspiring.

  14. Ditto what everyone has said, it is only an opinion. I ran a short story contest this summer and I got to see the totally opposite, varying opinions people can have on all kinds of writing issues. It was a good lesson. If one person doesn't like it, move on to the next.

  15. Nicole - you have a brave heart. It's tough for seasoned Indies to deal with negative reviews. Your attitude is fabulous. I had a cousin of mine - who has been trying to get me to write a book based on one of his gazillion ideas - tell me that really anyone can self-publish. Just like you've said above - that's not true. You still have to write something. I really can't wait to read it and plan to do so tomorrow.

  16. Thank you, Nicole. I had ONE bad review out of 42, but it sure stung. When you put yourself out there for the public you have to be able to take the slings & arrows...EVERY author has experienced it.

  17. I agree with you Nicole. Plus, it's only one person's opinion. Someone else could absolutely love it! Keep writing!

  18. It's horrible to get a bad review on such a personal creation. I don't think anything can stop it hurting, but I do like the way you view it.

  19. We create. We perfect (as much as we think necessary). We get feedback. We listen to the feedback; take what makes sense to us and leave the rest. At the end of the day it's our story and we have to tell it our way and if we like it, then there must be others out there who like it too. Well done :)


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