Friday, April 10, 2015
I got the first negative review on my book Thirst, which was released last month. The reviewer really didn’t like it and found fault with the plot, the characters, the book’s setting, the action (or lack thereof) and even the spelling—she noted there were typos. She ended her ten-line critique with, “I guess the bottom line for me is this...if your (sic) going to write a story and expect someone to want to read it then maybe make it a story worth telling so people would want to read it, talk about it and pass it on.” Which, I suppose, she didn’t.
I’d sent this person the book free of charge since she had reviewed a somewhat similar book positively a few months ago.
The sight of only two out of five stars in the review column initially angered me, particularly since every other review was four or more stars. I wondered what was wrong with this woman. Who wouldn’t love a book about an alcoholic amateur detective fighting a drug lord in the Nation’s Capital? Sex! Drugs! Washington, D.C.! What’s not to like!
I immediately began plotting a revenge. Then I had a square of dark chocolate, watched a couple episodes of The Tudors and went to sleep. In the morning decided one bad review wasn’t going to affect me.
Certainly, my writing has been criticized before. I regularly attend a couple of writers’ groups where I routinely present a book chapter, or short story, or even a simple idea that might germinate into something larger. Members of these get-togethers are not shy in stating their opinions. They’ll tear into a word, a sentence, a concept or a comma. Their comments and thoughts, though, are almost always constructive. I go home afterwards, gather all the comments, and decide which ones are valid points. Then I rewrite. Only once did a fellow writer really slam me. I reread his observations several times, and decided he made many good points. I redrafted the entire chapter in question.
Long ago, I wrote a book titled Bike! Motorcycles and the People Who Ride Them. A magazine sent a copy to a member of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang and asked him to review it. He did, writing, “This guy don’t know f*ck about motorcycle.”
That remains my all-time favorite review of anything I’ve written.