A few weeks ago I received a nice note from a reader who had enjoyed my book. She found me through one of those book networking sites, and so after I responded, I went to check out her page. Underneath her review of my book were several favorable reviews by other readers. As I scrolled down the page, however, I came across one reader who described my novel as “hands-down, the worst book I have ever read.”
Ouch. The review was so brutal, I found myself laughing in disbelief. Still, it didn’t seem to bother me all that much, not like it would have a few years ago when the book came out. Now, it seemed to kind of bounce off. I attributed my unusually mature reaction to the fact that the book is history to me. My focus is on the book I’m currently working on.
And yet, in the following days, I found myself chewing on those negative words. I was compelled to bring up the review to my close friends and family, which was a clear sign that the reader’s comments were bothering me. Their reactions were just as supportive as I’d hoped they’d be, calling into question the reviewer’s moral character, intelligence, and taste. My father wondered if the reviewer was angry and had an ax to grind. My mother—let’s just say I hope the guy never bumps into her in a dark alley.
While I so appreciate my loved ones coming to my defense, I just can’t join in on the demonizing bandwagon. There was nothing in the review that was abusive or deranged. He just didn’t like it. I, along with everyone else, have a list of the worst books, movies, TV shows, songs, etc. that I’ve ever come across—and surely those pieces are as dear to their creators as my book is to me. There’s no point in finding fault with someone for expressing his opinion. He is, after all, entitled.
Even if he's wrong.