I’ve always thought that a creative mind and writing talent were the two most important things for a writer, but it turns out I was wrong.
According to one smart woman:
“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.” —Harper Lee
Turns out the woman who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird had a bit of flak coming her way. While it won a Pulitzer Prize and has become a classic that everyone must read, upon publication reactions weren’t so hot. For example, Granville Hicks said the book was, “melodramatic and contrived”. Even the greatest books have their own detractors.
As a writer, you’re going to find people just don’t like something about your book. Whether it’s the story line, the dialogue, the plot twist that you thought was so original, or the character development, there will always be people telling you that your book sucks.
When I published In the Days, I thought I had done a good job with it. I got a few good reviews, and I was happy with the way things went. And then I got my first 3-star review:
“For one thing, it was too difficult to work out who were the good guys and who were the baddies. So I was left with not liking anyone which isn’t a good way for me to read a book. This book took more effort than I was willing to give it. A real shame as the author shows real talent.”
That was a bit hard for me to hear, because I thought I had done a pretty good job of writing the book clearly. This is just one of the three 3-star reviews I’ve gotten, plus a few more negative comments on sites like Goodreads. None of them are HORRIBLE, but they can be a bit discouraging for an author.
And then I read the Harper Lee quote on having a thick skin, and I realized that I had been given an opportunity to take these criticisms and use them for good. As I’m sitting and writing Book 2 of The Last Bucelarii series, I’m taking into account all of the negative feedback I got. I’m trying to avoid making the same mistakes, thereby hopefully improving my books.
As an author, you MUST have thick skin. Negative feedback and even outright criticism is just a part of your life as a writer, and you’ll need to deal with it in order to be successful. Use that criticism for good, and learn to love it! It will make you a better writer in the end.