a spy in the house of love

author alexandra bracken

18 Jun

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Beth posted this almost a full month ago, but I’ve been thinking about it nonstop since then.  It’s SO worth a read, and very, very wise. It is also now VERY relevant for me.

I’m grateful to have had some amazing positive feedback for The Darkest Minds, but I’ve also had some harsh feedback, and some disappointment from readers who liked my first book (which, for me, is the hardest to see—I have a very deep fear of disappointing people) but didn’t care for this one at all. TDM might turn out to be one of those books that you either love madly or hate ruthlessly.

I’m glad that I’m in a good enough place emotionally about this book that I can look at the criticism and think, “Oh, because this reader didn’t understand where the main character was coming from or didn’t like XYZ plot point, the rest of the story didn’t gel for them.” Or I can look at a comment like “this book needed more editing” and just laugh because—no joke—a good six people have had their hands in this story editorially.  (And, not to humblebrag, here, but if I find I need perspective on things, I can also look at the book’s Kirkus review and remember that a professional reviewer loved the main character, the plot, and thought the pacing was right on.)

Thanks to Beth, I ALSO keep repeating the following mantra to myself: “There are people in this world who don’t like bacon.”  It usually comes with me just turning to look at myself in the mirror and saying, “BACON.” 

I, myself, do not like chocolate. Or kittens. Or coffee.  And that’s okay.  As Liam would say, different strokes for different folks.  Obviously I want everyone to love this book as much as I do, but that’s not a realistic goal.  A realistic goal, for me, is to keep working to improve with every book I write—regardless of the feedback I get on this one.

(But I still went ahead and blocked GoodReads on my work and home computer.  At this point, I really just need to finish Sequel and I’m not going to be able to do it if I have other critical voices chatting in my head.)