About Negative Reviews
Now that I have a novel out there in the world, where it will stand or fall on its own merits, I’m faced with the issue of how to feel about negative reviews.
So far, the reviews of Sierra Girls have been overwhelmingly positive, and I think that says a lot about the quality of the novel. I have got a few bits of negative feedback, both publicly and privately, on various aspects.
The negatives usually amount to specific hobbyhorses that people would react to in any book that they read. A few people don’t like some of the colorful language in the book. And some dislike mentions of sex or sexuality—hard to avoid in a book about a serial rapist.
In both of these cases, I honestly don’t see these as negatives at all. Different people like different things, and dislike different things. Some folks are hung up on bad language. It’s normal. I know many people in real life who feel the same way. It’s just a preference, like not liking the flavor of onions. If occasional bad language in a book puts people off, that’s just the way it is.
I find this sort of feedback about personal tastes or preferences helpful in many ways. It lets other people reading the review know that the book contains language that some folks consider distasteful. This will warn people who dislike that sort of thing, and it might also entice some others who like, or at least are not put off, by language or sex or whatever.
The sort of negative feedback that seems more significant to me is when people say that they didn’t understand some part of the plot, or that they found some part of the book to be unrealistic, or that the story didn’t flow well in certain areas. I really appreciate this sort of feedback, because it helps me to see the story from someone else’s perspective, and to see where there might be real mechanical gaps or missteps on my part as an author.
Glowing feedback is always nice, especially when it is supported with specific elements from the story that people genuinely like. Negative feedback is usually always helpful as well, whether of the “I don’t like onions” variety or something more substantive. So I don’t really see it as negative at all.
All of this feedback is very encouraging to me as I’m working on my next novel. It helps keep me focused on what the real reason for writing is, at least for me. Providing people with enjoyment.