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Does a bad review mean I'm a bad writer?

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Does a bad review mean I'm a bad writer?

Post by Helen_Davis » Tue February 3rd, 2009, 12:02 am

I had a person on Lulu give me a bad review. Should I take this as being a bad writer and stop writing?

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Post by boswellbaxter » Tue February 3rd, 2009, 12:19 am

Everyone gets bad reviews--even the best writers.

Now, if you get nothing but bad reviews, and the bad reviews all make similar criticisms, then that probably is a tip that there are things you need to work on, though not necessarily that you're a bad writer. But I wouldn't let one negative review discourage you.
Susan Higginbotham
Coming in October: The Woodvilles



Post by Helen_Davis » Tue February 3rd, 2009, 12:59 am

[quote=""boswellbaxter""]Everyone gets bad reviews--even the best writers.

Now, if you get nothing but bad reviews, and the bad reviews all make similar criticisms, then that probably is a tip that there are things you need to work on, though not necessarily that you're a bad writer. But I wouldn't let one negative review discourage you.[/quote]

Thanks. I have an editor helping me out, so I pass the criticism onto her and we work from there.

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Post by Divia » Tue February 3rd, 2009, 2:18 am

I agree. Dont forget not everyone is going to like what you write, just like not everyone is going to like you. Its a fact of life. But as already stated, if people say the same thing then maybe it needs to be looked at.

And all writers can improve. If any writer thinks they can't they are a fool.
Last edited by Divia on Tue February 3rd, 2009, 12:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by xiaotien » Tue February 3rd, 2009, 5:59 am

it's true. every published writer will receive
bad reviews, you can't please everyone. tastes
vary so differently.

it must be hard, tho. cause i'm dreading reading
bad reviews of my own debut.
*hugs* and here's to some great reviews
to counter the bad one!
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greenwillow / harpercollins summer '09


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Post by Carine » Tue February 3rd, 2009, 6:47 am

Not at all Andromeda ! Don't worry about it, tastes vary.

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Post by juleswatson » Tue February 3rd, 2009, 8:51 am

I agree with everyone. Bad reviews feel like someone stabbed you in the chest (aargh) but EVERY writer gets them, and the biggest get the most, because more people are reading. People have wildly varying tastes. Take heart, it's normal. BTW As time went on I stopped obsessively googling my reviews. Bad ones hurt and put me off my stride, and people are so different you can't please everyone. Some things people complain about are affected by publisher constraints, and authors have no right of reply! I talked with the author Juliet Marillier about this and she agreed about the googling.
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Post by EC2 » Tue February 3rd, 2009, 12:16 pm

You can't please everyone all of the time Andromeda. There are people who have said I am a crap writer and others the opposite. You have to put it down to a lot of the views being about what the reader is bringing to the experience as much as the writer. I've had people say of one of my novels that it's too much of a historical romance. Other people have said of the same book that it's too historical, which is what I mean about reader expectations. You can't please everyone.
One bad review is nothing and no reflection on you. All you need to do from your viewpoint is believe in yourself and enjoy the writing. That's important. So is perseverance. I was 15 when I wrote my first novel, 32 when I first got published, and 50 before I made anything like a living out of it! You're in it for the long haul, so you might as well have fun. It doesn't matter what kind of writer you are. It's what you get out of it that matters.
If you do find that you get more reviews and they all make similar comments about an aspect of your work, then think about it, be prepared to take it on board, and see it as a positive because now you know where you have to fix your work. It's about balance. You need to know when to listen and when to take no notice. For the moment I'd take no notice :)
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal



Post by Helen_Davis » Tue February 3rd, 2009, 12:56 pm

:D Thanks, y'all. I do have a friend helping me with the editing process.

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Post by Margaret » Tue February 3rd, 2009, 5:35 pm

There's no such thing as a "good writer" or a "bad writer." Highly successful writers, in terms of critical acclaim and/or sales (not the same thing by any means, though they sometimes coincide), undoubtedly produced some very flawed manuscripts when they first started out to write. Highly successful books may also have been very flawed as first drafts. And, as others here have pointed out, the quality of a novel may be judged very differently by different readers. (For just one example: Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl sold like hotcakes and has been relished by a great many readers, whereas others have judged it very harshly.)

Very general feedback (i.e., this stinks, or this is the best thing ever written) is essentially useless and should be ignored. Very specific feedback (i.e., two of the characters had nearly identical names and I kept confusing them) can be extremely useful, especially if the same comment is made by more than one reader. It's very helpful if a writer can pull back a bit from his/her own work (this is easier if one sets it aside for a month to a year and comes back to it fresh) to make a dispassionate judgment about whether feedback is (a) too general to be helpful, (b) specific but a matter of a reader's individual taste and therefore also not helpful, or (c) specific and useful because it points out a potential improvement that can make the next book appeal to a larger number of readers.
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