Take it with a Grain of Salt

Opinions are funny things. Everyone has one to offer on any number of topics, and books are no exception. In fact, writers rely on these voices to help spread the word about their work, going so far as to offer giveaways and hit up slews of publications and websites for reviews. But that doesn’t mean getting a review is always a comfortable experience.

There will be people who won’t like your work. This is a fact of life spanning the entire creative spectrum. Some will actively hate it. Others will feel indifference or just plain not get it. As a writer–a professional writer–you need to expect this to happen on occasion. And that’s okay! Because someone expressing a personal opinion is doing precisely that; it doesn’t make it gospel or mean you have to share the same perspective.

I’ll give you an example to help prove my point:

Recently, I received two reviews on one of my books. The first reviewer loved the first section of the book but found the next two slightly weaker. However, the second reviewer felt the exact opposite of the first. While I certainly read both critiques with interest and appreciated them, at no point did I let them color my opinion of my own work, nor did I feel any resentment for the criticisms offered. And there’s a very simple for reason for that: I made sure I wrote that book every damn bit as well as I could before I let anyone read it. I made sure I was pleased with what I produced.

While neither of those reviews was negative overall (both actually gave the book a good rating), they illustrate just how different tastes can run. The important thing is to know what you’re working to set down on the page and to be confident it works for you before it goes to the reader. Only if a writer notices a common thread of complaints running through multiple reviews is there any real cause for concern as something may be objectively wrong. And even then, it’s better to ponder the validity of the point yourself and/or put the issue to some respected peers than to just take such criticism as a fact.

And needless to say, at no point lash out at the reviewer. Because as confident as you are in your opinion, he probably is in his. And there will never be any accounting for taste.

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About prutigli

Patrick Rutigliano grew up on a steady diet of comic books and horror movies. Making his first sale to Permuted press in 2007, he has since placed stories with several publications in addition to his first collection, Black Corners of a Blood-Red Room. The Untimely Deaths of Daryl Handy is his first independent release. During his off time, Patrick can usually be found attempting to recreate foreign cuisine, sacrificing cardboard to his cats, and having spirited debates with his wife over the failings of Disney villains.
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2 Responses to Take it with a Grain of Salt

  1. Just yesterday, I received a really negative comment from one of the writers in my critique group about a memoir that I am writing. I know some people aren’t going to like my book, but I was caught off guard by the meanness of the comment. Thank you for sharing. I feel a lot better after reading your post.

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