Yesterday, something really amazing happened. It was very simple and I didn't think anything of it at the time, but the response I got blew me away. I liked a negative review for one of my books on Goodreads, and then...
Wait? Hold up. You did what?
Well, to be fair, the reviewer basically said she was going to stop reading because she wasn't into the book and so she'd decided to quit while she was ahead. So I thought, Okay, fair enough. Not everyone is going to like my work, especially this title (Ghosts of Eden). And then I liked her review. I did it because I can appreciate her honesty. I wasn't upset in any way. Why would I be? I don't like every book I read all of the time, even the ones which come highly recommended from friends, so why should I expect everyone to like my own work. Especially some of the weird-surreal stuff I write. Reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, etc. are for readers to express their honest opinions, and as long as those reviews are not mindlessly hateful, I see no problem with this. Negative reviews are not a personal attack on an author and can, and will, sell books to those readers looking for the kinds of things that the negative reviewer is not.
But what was really amazing about yesterday, was that after liking the review, the reviewer returned to say the following:
This led to a discussion about badly behaved authors, some new friends on Goodreads, and I even sold some books. I'm still in shock. Are there really that many authors with bad attitudes? It got me thinking... Maybe there is still an industry where the nice guy really can finish first.
Reviews are, after all, for readers, not for the authors of the work being reviewed. Once published, the work is out of the author's hands and it is up to readers to interpret and enjoy and spread the word. The last thing an author should be doing is taking personal offense to what is said in a review (with exceptions only for wearisome trolls).
As a writer, I am also a voracious reader, and there have been plenty of books I've read that I didn't like. Readers and writers are, after all, the same kinds of people. We should be understanding of each other. Have some empathy. If you don't, you shouldn't be writing, because that's really what writing is all about. We should celebrate diverse opinions and viewpoints.
As an author, I don't expect everyone to like my work, nor to find overnight success from any one title. I have two novels and four novellas published now and I still consider myself a newbie. The reason I feel this way is because I'm in this writing thing for the long haul. What's 2 years out of 20? Out of 40? I'm a real writer: I write because I enjoy expressing myself through words. I've not found anything else that excites and moves me the way writing does. I want to write. I also want to find readers who are as excited and moved by my writing as I am. And I want to eventually find financial stability with my writing. I believe I will, but it only happens one work at a time. I expect to continue to write and grow as a writer.
Too many authors, I think, expect instant success. They think that what they've written is the best thing out there and that everyone is going to love it and they're angry when anyone doesn't agree with them. This is a horrible attitude. Guess what? Writing is not easy. It's very, very difficult and takes years for anyone to develop the skills to produce anything worthy of the attention of readers. I've been writing fairly regularly since I was in high school, fifteen years ago, and have only been publishing for the last two years.
But anyway, all I mean to say is that I find what happened to me yesterday very encouraging. Authors take note. It might be the publishing world still has room for the nice guy. Man, I hope so...
Thank you readers and reviewers!