But Don’t Take It Personally by Amy Rivers
You spend all this time creating a book—your own personal masterpiece. The first time you let someone else see it, you might quake with anxiety. Maybe it’s your sister or your best friend. Maybe your husband or your girlfriend. And they love you, so they’re encouraging. They heap on the praise and you feel like a gold medalist in the Olympics.
Then, you publish the book. Maybe you self-publish and the process is fast. Maybe you go the traditional route, get an agent, sell your book to a Big 5 publisher and you’re on your way. It may take months. It may take years, but the first time you hold a print copy in your hand, the feeling is unforgettable. You ride high on that elation—right up until the reviews start rolling in.
Now, it doesn’t matter if you’ve written one book or a hundred. You could be the most gifted, prophetic writer of our time, and someone is still going to hate your work. Unfortunately, the people who hate it seem to be the most likely to go public with their opinion. Between notes of love and approval, you start to hear “It wasn’t my thing” or “I couldn’t connect.” Occasionally, you get a good old fashioned “this is the worst book I’ve ever read.” Read it. Don’t read it. But move on.
My personal favorite, of course, are the people who give you a one-star review and then say “I hated it so much I stopped reading.” That’s right, fellow authors. They didn’t like the book enough to finish reading it but they DID feel the need to give you a terrible rating, which will now affect the way that your book shows up in search results, and will probably have you pouring another glass of wine ASAP.
And it’s not just the written reviews that sting.
Consider the agent whose rejection email includes the line, “sorry, but I’m looking for the next big thing and this is not it.”
Or the seasoned author who entered the publishing industry at a completely different time in its evolution and isn’t being the least bit ironic when he says he was hoping for more from you as a storyteller. He may even have a point, but establishing yourself as an author today requires a whole different set of skills. In the age of social media, readers have instant access to thousands of books that fit their preferences. And the ability to praise and pan authors is at their fingertips.
It should probably come as no surprise that authors react the way any proud mama would when someone points out that her kid’s hair needs a good brushing.
But you can’t feed the trolls.
Practice your death glare. Mutter creative curses under your breath. And for God’s sake, learn a few new hair styling techniques before heading out into public again.
But don’t take it personally.
Amy Rivers writes novels, short stories and personal essays. She is the Director of Northern Colorado Writers. Her novel All The Broken People was recently selected as the Colorado Author Project winner in the adult fiction category. She's been published in We Got This: Solo Mom Stories of Grit, Heart, and Humor, Flash! A Celebration of Short Fiction, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses, and Splice Today, as well as Novelty Bride Magazine and ESME.com. She was raised in New Mexico and now lives in Colorado with her husband and children. She holds degrees in psychology and political science, two topics she loves to write about.
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