Ouch! That hurts, thank you.

One thing both independent authors and traditionally published writers share is criticism. However a work gets published, once it is “out there” it is fair game.

The first time I hit the “Publish” button, I felt physically ill, for fear readers would hate my book. When I received my first print copy I could not even open it until my son read it and assured me it was all right.

I was fortunate that all my early reviews were positive and I even relaxed enough to joke about the fact that the only non-five star review came from my hard-to-please sister, who gave the book four stars.

Inevitably, a dreaded poor review was posted. I was so distressed I almost gave up on finishing the series I’d outlined.

Going back and re-reading the criticism, like probing a toothache, I suddenly realized what that two-star review meant. This reader had read the whole book and cared deeply enough about the characters to write and complain about the way some of them behaved. It wasn’t my writing that was objected to, after all.

That insight helped salve my hurt feelings (somebody doesn’t like me!) so I can now read my reviews with an eye to learning from them. It helps to find out what my readers expected, or wanted, to happen to my characters.

After four published books and many reviews, both positive and critical, I’ve also come to accept the fact that I can’t please everyone. The very same aspect of a story for which I receive praise from some readers can be the most strongly objected to by others.

Whenever a reader of one of my books cares enough to take the time and effort to post a review, pro or con, I am grateful.

Like the subtitle for that wonderful classic Peter Sellers movie, “Dr. Strangelove,” I have learned to stop worrying and love the critics.

 

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