I was farting around on Twitter yesterday, something I'm prone to do when I have writer's block or I'm bored. I came across this wonderful tweet that read: #amWriting: How not to handle bad reviews http://ow.ly/4pqnR @40kBooks. This link led me to a blog post that was subtitled "Self-published author Jacqueline Howett's online meltdown after a poor review quickly went viral, proving the internet has finally removed the line in the sand between reviewers and authors." Having been the victim of bad reviews as well as rejections from literary agents and publishers, this was immediately VERY intriguing to me so I read on. The blog post explained not only Howett's train wreck of inappropriate, unprofessional responses to her book review in the comments section and subsequent responses from internet trolls but also several other online disasters created by established authors. In terms of the literary world, this is almost as salacious to readers as TMZ exploits of celebrities is to TV viewers. Well, not really. But public displays of personal meltdowns always, ALWAYS get people's attention. Why? Come on, you know why. Everyone loves a train wreck. Believe it or not, it makes us feel better about ourselves.
Before I go on about Howett's disaster, I first must admit that I have received several bad reviews for the stuff I have published in addition to several excellent reviews as well. The good always comes with the bad. I have also received hundreds of rejection letters from literary agents. Hundreds! I used to keep them in a shoe box and secretly thought that one day, after mounds of success selling my books, I would return them to whom they originally came with a personal note from yours truly saying, "Now you have fucked up!" I later realized, after several moves between residences, that I was a moron for lugging these negative letters around. One day, after a good spring cleaning, I decided to throw them away and felt the burden of keeping these rejection letters vanish instantly. I have also received dozens of rejection letters from editors and publishers and art directors from various newspapers, magazines, literary journals, and publishing houses. But, and this is an important but, these rejection letters and bad reviews are all a part of the process of becoming a writer. Your literary output will not be everyone's cup of tea (to quote Howett!) just as your own personal taste does not align with others in your social circle. I realized this years ago when talking to a friend about a negative review I had received. After pouring my heart out, he asked me, "Do you like the group N Sync?" I said, "Hell no!" My friend went on to explain (this is so clear to me now) how everyone has an opinion about something and a reviewer was no different than anyone else. "They are just publishing their opinions," he said. So true, my friend, so true. But I also know for every 10 rejection letters I've received, I've also received at least one very positive letter requesting my permission to include my work in their publication. Yeah!