Books Magazine

Boring Is the New Black–Or, Voltaire, You Owe Me a Favor!

By Francinelasala @francinelasala

When you write a book, it’s impossible to put yourself out there without getting trampled. It’s part of the process. You’re not ever going to be able to please everyone, and nor should you ever try. Still, I know I’m not alone in the writer world when I admit that a bad review can sting. Here are my two favorites:

For Rita Hayworth’s Shoes (2 stars!)
BORING! (by “Angela”)
“My apologies to all my fellow 5-star reviewers, but nothing thrilled me about this book. I felt it was run of the mill, even bordering on boring. The only saving grace for me was that I decided to read Voltaire’s Candide because of it.”

For The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything (1 star!)
IMPLAUSIBLE! (by “Cman”)
“This has to be one of the worst books I have read recently. Everything up to the last scenario with Esther (almost at the end of the book) was just implausible to believe. In fact it was irritating that author would think readers would not question all the holes in the plot. There was nothing to believe in characters responses to events occurring. I would not call it a psycho drama, fantasy, magical or any of the other genre descriptions used in other comments.”

I have to admit, I’m far more excited about the outrage of the GIRL review (more on that in a bit) than I am about the malaise of the one for RITA. (I also have to giggle at the use of “my fellow 5-star reviewers,” which implies that she is one of them… But I am thrilled to have introduced Voltaire to new reader–hence the favor that guy owes me.)

In any case, here’s what I try to remember when I get a bad review and maybe it might help you too–before you start weeping so hard, you short-out your laptop:

1) Consider the source. Not every book is for every reader. I never got past page 2 of Twilight, but I’m sure Stephenie Meyer and her billions of fans don’t give a rat’s ass what I think.

2) Know that some people like to hate. I accept my books aren’t Shakespeare, and so should you. Because that is not our name. But to be serious… I’ve been at this a while and I know my books aren’t garbage either. Maybe I’m a Pollyanna, but if I can’t give a book at least 3 stars, I don’t bother with a review. Why would I care? Which brings me to my next point…

3) Someone hated your work enough to CARE!  This is by far my favorite. Look at it this way: If someone gave you a scathing, hateful review, be honored that your writing touched a nerve, compelled that person in some way to log on to a website, search out your book, and tell the world just how shitty he or she thinks you are. I know it’s hard to see this through the thick veil of your tears, yes, but consider how many people email or Facebook you to let you know they loved your book, but never leave a review. (Though best not to consider all the others who didn’t hate your book enough to crap all over you and your work.)

For any writer who thinks “a” or even “some” bad reviews means it’s time to turn in the towel, check this out:

The point of this? (Aside from trying to make myself believe my heart isn’t in pieces.) It’s to tell you and me both: KEEP WRITING! And do it with the joy of knowing that people are going to fucking hate you for it!

But please, for the love of all that is holy, do not, do NOT, let a bad review influence what and how you write. You must always keep true to what you do. I, myself, intend to spin hundreds more “boring,” “implausible,” “shitty” stories because I enjoy writing them that way and others enjoy reading them that way. You do that too, okay? Great! (And if you can bear it…tell me about your crappiest review in the comments? Pretty please? I promise that sharing makes you feel better!)

Also, and this is HUGE, please make sure that no matter what boring, implausible, shitty stories you spin, please be edited. Please. Your work should be crapped upon because people hate your premise or your characters or you, not because you were sloppy. (If you got a bad review because you were sloppy, that’s totally about you sucking.)

So break out those hate cauldrons and get ready to stew bad-review-givers “Angela” and “Cman” because I’m pretty sure you’re going to want to gouge out your eyes with your own fingers when you see what I’ve got coming next.


Have a great day everyone (even you haters)!

P.S. If you do like a book you read, the best gift you can give an author is a review. Just sayin’.

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