A big day for me.
I’ve just read my very first 1-star review for The Strange Man. It comes courtesy of Catie from Goodreads.
So how does one deal with a bad review--rather, a scathing review? I suppose some would say “Ah, blow it off,” which is a valid option. But, I think writers should take note of all the reviews-- the good, the bad, the fair, the unfair--and pull what they can from it. Author Mike Duran recently posted about having a thin skin--about receiving criticism and asking yourself the tough questions about your writing. Good thoughts and I totally agree with that.
I’m actually very touched by this review. Her passion--granted she hates the book in no uncertain terms--but her passion for it moves me. She felt something (in this case, revulsion). Also, I’m very thankful to Catie that she was a grown-up about the review. At no point does she attack me personally and I really appreciate that. I also like how detailed her review is. She’s put a lot of thought into this--though she admittedly doesn’t want to think about the book anymore or ever again.
There’s actually one line from the review that I’m really proud of:
"So, just for the sake of brevity, imagine a 1980’s slasher film with right-wing Christian overtones."
Well "right wing" aside, I actually sort of take that as a compliment :p
Having said these positives, I don't want to make light of her complaints. It’s an overt Christian thing and she doesn’t like that. I won’t fault her for that and I wouldn’t dare whip out the whole “It’s a persecution conspiracy!” because I think that demeans her opinion. The things I do take great issue with are her accusations that the book is "racist" and "demeans women". This was certainly never my intention and I’m not sure where she’s deriving this perception, but that’s her opinion and she’s entitled to it. Also, I think she completely misunderstands my motive as an author for killing off the girl she mentions in the review. The character didn't die as some sort of author commentary on her behavior, but rather I was (trying to) point out that she wasn’t a "bad girl"-—but is going to die anyway. I was trying to break the 1980s slasher trope and show that no one is safe. So, that confounds me and, as a writer, makes me feel like I missed the mark in explaining that.
Though, that raises a point. Do I have to spell out everything for the reader within the novel? Wouldn't that be considered "telling", and bad form? But, this is what happens when you don’t spell it out--people read into it different things, sometimes things you never ever intended or even thought yourself.
The only thing that grieves me is that Catie’s soul feels "bruised" after reading the book. Ouch. I see her profile pic and she seems like a nice young lady with a great family and to think that I’ve hurt her—however marginally—really makes me want to buy her a fruit basket or a dozen roses or something.
Sorry, Catie :(
At any rate, it's done, it's out there, and I've brought it all full circle by blogging about it (how lame). Please do not misunderstand this as a ploy to get sympathy. While I'm feeling pretty blue today, I'm processing those feelings and trying to learn what I might from Catie for the future.
But, as I leave you, I bring to you my favorite line (no, I’m serious) from the review:
"There's no reason for anyone to read this book."
Wow! If you’re going to fail, fail spectacularly.