As a writer, I live for reviews. Of course, the writing process is fun and therapeutic (or else, I wouldn’t be writing at all), but reviews are just the best. Knowing that someone out there has not only read your work, but has taken a few minutes to type out a comment, is one of the best feelings in the world.
Comments and reviews are very rare occurrences. Not a lot of people stop to read something longer than a sentence (that’s why Twitter is so popular- you can only write a little less than a paragraph at a time). The weight is in the title- if the title catches the eyes, and the first paragraph peaks the reader’s interest, then, and only then, is there a chance that the rest of your article will be read.
Blog posts and freelance articles are one form of writing I do. These are short, contain pictures, and recount memories, opinions, and experiences. I can usually write these freehand, and depending on the subject, get them finished within a few hours. Then, I carefully schedule tweets and notices on Facebook, to make sure these articles get seen by the right audience.
Most views come from strangers, and with that, my words are subjected to anonymous faces who don’t have to be nice to me, because they know they’ll never see me in real life. Or, I’ll get generic, one-sentence comments with a link to the other person’s blog, because they’re just trying to gather traffic for their own website. This is okay, and I’m guilty of it too- us bloggers are just trying to make it out there in the big wide Internet world.
Thankfully, the readers and commenters on my blog are super nice and supportive. Every time a post of mine gets a comment, I squeal and jump with happiness. It keeps me going.
As for the freelance articles I’ve written (that have been posted on websites such as The Dis and World of Walt), I’m subject to a wider audience, and therefore open to more criticism. My latest Dis article gained a few negative reviews on their Facebook page, which, in the big scheme of things, weren’t that bad. Still, it sucks.
I wrote about experiences that I, as an introvert, try to avoid at Disney. I’m not big on character interactions and dining, or interactive shows. There is so much else that I love about the parks, and I was trying to emphasize that fact.
A lot of the feedback was positive. Someone even emailed me personally to thank me for my article, explaining how they felt the same way. Others chimed in, saying how they, too, were introverts and disliked being singled out in front of a crowd. There were a small few who decided to write hurtful things (which, if you decide to publish something on the internet, is always a probability).
One commenter simply wrote: “This girl is weird.” Another wrote, “Why go to Disney then?” with an eye-roll emoji. There were a few more, but these are the ones that stand out the most.
Luckily, others came to my defense, but the damage was done. I had seen the comments, and laughed at them at first, but here I am months later- and still remember them word-for-word. Am I really weird? Am I really missing the point of Disney because I don’t like characters and dinner shows?
This may come off as me sounding too sensitive (after all, with Facebook being so toxic, it could have been so much worse), but as a writer I tend to remember the negative reviews more than the positive ones. Thankfully, the positives far outnumber the negatives, and they won’t stop me from continuing to write freelance.
My point is, there’s always going to be others who hate your work, whether you’re an artist, singer, songwriter, photographer, author, or creator of anything original. You’ve got to keep going. Don’t let the bastards, and the negativity, grind you down.
Also, don’t stoop to their level. Do you know how tempting it was to write something nasty in reply? I wanted to type something snarky SO badly, but I had to remind myself to stay kind. I didn’t want to risk an online fight, nor did I want to risk being banned from writing for that website (which I adore, and consider a huge privilege). So, remain kind. Don’t give in to unpleasant people.
Now- books! I am the author of two books about Disney. I don’t get a lot of book reviews (no matter how much I beg friends and family to write a review, I’ve only gotten 16 reviews for my first book on Amazon- and it’s been out for over a year). People will write long, scathing reviews for companies on Yelp, but asking for book reviews is like pulling teeth. When I get a nice review on Amazon or GoodReads, a small explosion erupts in my stomach. I literally smile from ear-to-ear. It’s amazing, guys.
16 reviews isn’t bad at all, and I’m so lucky to have received any at all! Still, I can’t help but cringe when I see negative comments. At least they bought the book, right? And at least, I can be proud that I published something.
I haven’t been able to express my objectives very eloquently, but in the end, here’s some tips for both writers and readers:
- Write a review (positive OR negative, every review helps the author boost their work)
- Rate the book or like the post (if you don’t have the time to write a review)
- Don’t reply to negative or nasty comments- if others feel strongly, they’ll write back on your behalf
- Keep going, even if a post or a book doesn’t get a lot of recognition
- Remain kind- some people won’t be able to find anything nice to say, even if the book is worthy of the New York Times Best Seller List
- Don’t always expect 5-Star Reviews; treat them as a nice surprise, but don’t expect to turn into J.K Rowling overnight
I must remind myself of these guidelines a lot. It’s only natural to worry about what others think. However, a negative review shouldn’t mean the end of your writing career. If anything, make the negative review a push to write something even better.
And as a writer, make sure to THANK anyone and everyone who wrote a positive review- that’s what we’re here for. Whether you get one comment, or 1,000 comments, these people took the time to write on your post. No matter how busy you are or how long it takes you, please respond to their comment. Let the reader know their voice is heard and appreciated.
What do you do when you get negative reviews?
Hugs and Fishes,