Thursday, April 23, 2009

Everyone Has an Opinion

HONESTLY! I hate pictures of myself, because that double chin always shows up and reminds me that I'm still failing to take off and keep off those extra pounds.

On that note. . .I think I've been in publishing too long, because it now takes a lot to get me excited.

I remember as a green editor meeting some of those authors I grew up reading. I was so thrilled by the experience, but I've come to learn that they are just people like everyone else.

I used to get excited about book awards or good book reviews or wonderful free advertising, until it started to seem like a lot of that was driven by business politics and such. Nothing seems to come for free.

I guess you could say I've become a bit jaded and skeptical. I've lost my green editor innocence.

So, today I was skimming an issue of RT. I noticed a couple books only got 2 stars. (Thankfully not one of ours.) At first I thought, "How sad." But then I was struck by 2 stars being a good thing. I suddenly had the feeling that reviewers were trying their best to be honest about book content as they saw it. (At least the jaded side of me hopes there isn't another agenda.)

I've seen reviews written that were obviously done as favors by friends of the authors, because there was no honest criticism. Absolutely everything was wonderful!

I believe that the best criticism/review an author receives should be served first with a spoonful SUGAR (that which is right about the book), but I also truly believe that authors need to hear fair and honest critiques about what still needs improved. Everyone has an opinion they can share, and every author still has something they can learn. Not everyone opinion, though, is exactly right since it has to be filtered through individual life experiences. But generally, there is something we all can learn from every opinion.

Most all people hate to criticize and risk hurting feelings, but the really successful people have developed thick skins and learned not to take critiques so personally that they can't find something about the review to grow from.

I'm in no way picking on any author here today. It is just a thought that struck me while flipping through an edition of RT.

So here's to honest critiques and the thick skin we all need to learn from them.


Carrie Turansky said...

Hi Becky, I like that cute photo. You look like you just received some very good news.

I value the input I receive from my critique partners. They tell it like it is and give me valuable direction to improve my stories.

I have a harder time with negative reviews because at that point there is nothing I can do to change or improve the story. I only post reviews for books I enjoy and want to recommend to others. I believe that's one way to encourage other authors and spread the word about well-written books. If I don't care for a book, then I don't post a review.

I still believe what my mom taught me - If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. I don't have the personality or desire to be a professional reviewer who has to be objective and review books even if they don't like them. Yikes!

Susan Page Davis said...

I agree, Becky, but it's hard to take when it happens to be my book. Of course I want great reviews (five stars would be awesome, thank you). But if my story is truly flawed, I want to know it. I can see Carrie's point, too, though--if it's 2-star bad, I should have caught those flaws long before the review stage. We are all sensitive about our own manuscripts. It's natural to feel that way. But looking past the hurt and weighing whether the criticism is true will make us better writers.

Mary Connealy said...

So you're saying I SHOULDN'T be handing out cash to people who give me a five star review on Amazon? Because it's been really effective, at least as far as me feeling all warm and fuzzy.

CHickey said...

Amen to that!

Rachel Overton said...

Hey Becky!

Rachelle Gardner posted about this today. Only she posted actual reviews from professional reviewers...and then some from "just readers" at Amazon. Ouch!!

Check her out:

NancyMehl said...

I just want everyone to know that Mary is serious. She tried to pay me, but I refused. High moral standards and all that...(G)

Truthfully, it's always been the constructive criticism that has helped me more than the praise. Although, if readers echo the same positive thing over and over, it may be a good indicator of your strengths as a writer - something to take seriously and cultivate.

And I think it's a great picture too, Becky. It makes you seem a lot less scary...LOL!


Erica Vetsch said...

I have a quote from Mike Ditka in my office: "Failure isn't fatal and success isn't permanent." Pithy, ain't it?

Guess I'll have an opportunity to learn more about the truth of that statement. I don't look forward to hearing someone say my baby is ugly. :(

How do you tell the difference between the 'not my cup of tea' comments--like people who don't like Christian Romance, but insist on reading it so they can tell you how much they don't like it--and the comments that have substance and should be heeded?

I guess the sign of a grown up writer is knowing the difference, and not being pushed too far off center by positive OR negative comments.

I like the photo too. :)