Ironically, my first scathing reader review was for one of my most award-winning, bestselling novels, Beneath a Southern Sky. (That vicious review is still up on amazon.com, along with several others, if you care to weep along with me!) That review nearly paralyzed me for a few days. It didn’t hurt so much that someone didn’t like my book (okay, HATED my book). I’m well aware that the type of book I write isn’t for everyone, and there are many different tastes in genre and style. What hurt was that it sounded like the reviewer didn’t much like ME!
But I did something else after receiving that review. I removed an amazon.com review that I had written months earlier for a book that made me angry. No, it wasn’t wrong of me to post a review respectfully outlining why I disliked this book. But I had made the same mistake I think my negative reviewer made—I made my review personal, commenting on the author’s personality and motives, not just his writing. I didn’t even know the man, but like my reviewer, I failed to acknowledge that this author was human and had feelings.
My terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad review (and there have been plenty of others since) gave me two important things: a thicker skin for the inevitable bad reviews to come in my future; and a softer heart for other writers, who are real, imperfect people. Just like me.