It was only a matter of time. One cannot enjoy 4- and 5-star reviews indefinitely. Yep, I gotta a two-er. A big, fat, stinky two-er.
I debated to even blog about this. The moment I mention the stinker, you’ll all scurry over to find it, and I’d prefer to keep the shame top-secret, not to mention I’d like to remain professional. But the title of my blog isn’t The Write Transition because I pontificate about ponies. It’s because I share my writing journey with others who travel the same path. And that means sharing the pretty and the ugly.
Welcome to my ugly.
For all you writers out there, here are my 15 STEPS for dealing with a bad review. If you’re not a writer, feel free to enjoy my pain anyway.
Step 1: Feel heart leap into throat and gut sink to knees the second you spot the review. Taste a coppery sickness in your mouth.
Step 2: Refresh the page in case you’re mistaken.
Step 3: Experience a rush of despair when you discover the reviewer gave away the plot twist by dumping a truckload of spoilers.
Step 4: Remind yourself that a bad review was inevitable, and in fact, probably makes a book more credible.
Step 5: Get back to the novel-in-progress you were working on before you took the regretful Internet break.
Step 6: Allow review to fester in your psyche while you write. In doing so, tell yourself you’re a fool for thinking you can write at all. Cap this off with, “Who do you think you’re kidding?”
Step 7: Go back to review and click on the reviewer’s profile. Feel some relief when you note he has three pages of one- and two-star reviews. But feel sad again that he said you’ve lost all ‘grip on reality.’
Step 8: Remind yourself everyone has a right to his or her opinion, and you can’t please everyone.
Step 9: Seek out a handful of M&Ms for solace.
Step 10: Return to your novel-in-progress, write a few lines, and tell yourself the work is crap.
Step 11: Visit another review site and perk up when you see a new four-star review from a stranger who uses the words “can’t put it down” and “very realistic.”
Step 12: Pull up your big-kid pants and remind yourself it’s one review out of many.
Step 13: Hike those pants even higher and remember you once helped care for post-op kids in the ICU who’d just undergone open-heart surgery. Know that maintaining their blood pressure merited much greater worry than living with a bad review.
Step 14: Tell yourself that bad reviews are just as helpful as good reviews—maybe even more so—and learn from what was said. Pat yourself on the back for being an adult.
Step 15: Go to bed that night and sleep soundly. Well, kind of.