Staying Positive in a Negative World
What did you experience when you read the reviews for your book? Were you elated and joyful because they were five stars? Or did it feel like you were punched in the gut because they were less than five stars, perhaps even a devastating 1, 2, or 3? Let’s be honest, our potential readers view the 1-5 scale the same way they do report cards. Getting a 5 is equal to an A, getting a 1 is equal to an F. So, in a sea of potential books to read, are readers going to pick a C or below? Probably not.
As authors, we like to think everyone is going to love what we write, at a minimum we expect people we support to reciprocate, but that’s just not realistic. The world of authors is just like any other world, it’s filled with people of all kinds. There are positive people, thank goodness, because I wouldn’t have lasted one day on Twitter if there weren’t. But, just as in your day to day life, there are also negative, jealous, and indifferent people too. The web makes it easy to hide all the motives and sometimes you’re just blown away thinking “oh this person is great, they are so supportive, they even bought my book”, only to wake up and find out they gave you a negative or less than five star review. When they disappoint, we’re more hurt than if a stranger had done it, but why? It’s because we expected something we shouldn’t have. We don’t actually know these people and they don’t know us. Why are we expecting kindness or loyalty?
I am someone who believes in acceptance and moving on. I think if you hold onto negative feelings it manifests into other ugly things. I hold no ill will and I don’t see any other author as a competitor. There are 335M people in the US alone, no need to feel like we’re all on an episode of Highlander. There can be more than one! On a side note, I did love the tv series (not so much the movies)
I do my best to send positive messages and support people because I believe in it. As Oprah once said, “You really haven’t completed that circle of success unless you have helped someone else to move forward.” I’m doing my best to follow this path, it’s not always easy.
Fellow authors understand the lasting effects of what we perceive as a negative review. Five star reviews are like gold in this industry, they are hard to come by and even harder to maintain as an average.
So, what can you do with all these negative vibes? I think you have two options.
One, if you feel the space it came from is a negative one, whether jealousy or competitiveness, ignore it. Accept the fact that negative reviews were bound to happen and now you have that miserable experience out of the way. Remember, even Best-selling authors have received 1, 2 and 3 star reviews.
Two, if you feel the review was helpful, an actual critique, learn from it and do your best to incorporate it into your writing. Consider this a benefit you paid dearly for, but at least you got something out of it.
My final bit of advice comes from one of my favorite authors, poets, all around amazing woman, Maya Angelou. She had a famous quote that I never forgot. “When people show you who they are, believe them.”
It’s important for people to understand acceptance and moving on doesn’t equal rolling over. If you have someone in your space that brings you down or is negative, you need to shed them. I know how that reads, but it’s true. We’ve all had the experience of knowing someone, either in work or on social media, who’s negative or seemingly wishes you ill will. This can manifest in many different ways, but we all know it when it happens.
Once you see them for who they are, believe them and move on.