So I’ve been feeling really bad this week. And not just because I have a touch of a stomach bug, although that doesn’t help. No, I’ve been feeling bad because I had to leave a bad review on someone’s book. I’ve upset someone and insulted their baby.
Here’s the thing. Bad reviews happen. They’ve certainly happened to me! And yes, I was deeply upset for a week when I got my first 1-star review. And let me tell you, it was a thousand times worse than the 2-star review I left on the book this week. That review still irks my taters. It also taught me the valuable lesson of accepting that not everyone is going to love everything I do every time.
Before I go on, I want to share this super awesome article that one of my Twitter friends, Catie Rhodes, shared with me a couple of weeks ago when I whined on Twitter about a mediocre review:
Cool, eh? And so true!
But that’s not exactly what I want to talk about today. Today I want to talk about that wince-worthy problem that authors sometimes run into that generates not-so-great reviews.
Sometimes people just don’t get it.
I love my medieval romance trilogy, The Noble Hearts (points to the right-hand side of the screen). I think of them as swashbuckling romantic adventure … and here’s the important part … a la A Knight’s Tale. Yep, that was exactly the feeling I was going for when I wrote these books.
Have you ever seen A Knight’s Tale? It’s basically a rollicking medieval-pop flick with modern music, modern dialog, and modern mores. THAT’S what I was going for. Deliberately anachronistic, hip, fast-paced.
Several reviewers haven’t understood this. Their reviews are generally positive, but mention that the stories are full of anachronistic dialog and that they didn’t feel the way a medieval novel should.
They didn’t get it.
And you know what? That’s okay. I knew I was taking a risk by writing in a unique style. I’ve never been interested in writing just like everyone else or mimicking what people expect to read. I’ve always wanted to be a little off-the-cuff, a little avant garde, a little different. That’s me.
But with risks come … risks. People don’t get it. That’s nothing new to me. I’ve felt as though people don’t get me on many levels and never had. Why? Because I’m different. I’ve always known I was and I always will be. But it’s taken a long time to make peace with that.
Writing is a tough gig. We are never going to hit the bull’s-eye with everyone all the time. And our books are always going to fall into the hands of people who don’t like our style, our characters, our choices, whatever. There will always be someone who doesn’t get it. Guess what? That’s awesome! Think about what that means for the diversity of this world. It’s a wonderful thing.
So no, I don’t jump for joy when I get one of those reviews – and I know I’ll keep getting them – that say my medieval novels were anachronistic and that I obviously don’t know what I’m doing with my history degree. The rest of the content of those reviews is pretty good, overall, and there are some people who definitely got the books all the way.
The moral of the story? That first time that someone posts a negative review and you see that they’ve totally missed the point of what you were going for is a badge of honor! You’ve stretched beyond your own immediate circle! You’ve dared. And that’s what counts.