Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bad Review

After the Leaves Fall has been in bookstores for nearly eleven months now. And the shelf life of Summer Snow is somewhere around three months. It's been a fun year to say the least, and so far I've been very blessed by lots of positive feedback and encouragement. Publishing a book has been a dream come true!

Until this week. Da-da-da-dum. Cue the violins. This week (*gasp*) I received (*sniffle*) my first (or, at least, the first that I know of) bad review (oh the horrors). Ahhhh!!!

Okay, enough melodrama. I knew this was coming. Every author gets bad reviews. So, how does a new author deal with a crappy analysis of her blood, sweat, and tears hard work??? This author blogs about it apparently.

What did my unimpressed reviewer have to say about Summer Snow? Well, he found my characters "stereotypical" and "close to being unconvincing." He also didn't think my story was original and he figured he knew exactly what was going to happen throughout the rest of the book by the end of the first few chapters. Bummer. Thankfully, he was "slightly impressed with the quality of the writing." Hey, that's better than nothing.

I have to admit that some of his opinions stung. How could they not? I think that anytime you pour yourself into a work of your hands (or your mind or your heart) you expose a very private, vulnerable part of yourself. And then people get to walk by and analyze it--and you. Yeeps.

But in spite of my slightly battered feelings, I know that there is much I can learn from my icky review. Lesson #1: Not everyone is going to love my stuff. I'm okay with that. I don't love everything I read either. Lesson #2: There may be hard truths to uncover in the midst of a bad review. Though I'd love my first two books to be perfect, I know that I have much to learn about the craft of writing. I need to be encouraged by the good people have to say, and search for wisdom and advice in the bad. Lesson #3: I can't take myself so seriously. 'Nuff said. Lesson #4: I need to remember that I write for an audience of one. It's easy to get caught up in what people say or don't say about my books... But writing for me was never about what other people thought. For twenty years I wrote for no one but myself and God. Volumes of poetry, short stories, character sketches, you name it. And I was happy and fulfilled because my writing was an act of worship. Summer Snow was an act of worship. Writing it was a beautiful, holy experience. That's enough for me.

Hmmm... I guess I owe you a thank you, Mr. Bad Review. :)


  1. Hi Nicole. You're totally right in the lessons you've taken from that bad review. Definitely the one about writing for an audience of ONE. If you're writing for HIS glory, how could you be wrong? Not everyone will love it, but God will use it how HE sees fit.

    So, hang in and press on!!!

  2. Funny, your bad review became my bad review! I love your books and can't wait for the next one!
    and I had to laugh, 3/4 of Christian fiction romance is totally predictable! Ha, no accounting for taste. But I agree, if you write for the ONE, then the ones (like me) who read your books will get touched in places that the ONE wants to reach them.
    I keep wanting to send your books over to my local crisis pregnancy center. I think a lot of girls in Julia's position would relate. She isn't sappy about her "lot" in life and her character, who she is, will touch some hearts of young girls in her position. You make God seem real but not in a "preachy" way but in a down-to-earth, "He lives where I live" sort of way. He knows how to reach some people.
    So remember, The bad reviews fall on the just and unjust! Ha ha! Hope that brings a smile to your face.

  3. Sorry chica :). Ironically I got my first lukewarm review this week too...

    "There are times when the role of coincidence comes into play and stretches the believability of the story... Overall, it was a good book. I enjoyed reading it. However, the story didn't grip me much as others have done. This is not a story that will stay with me as the years....or even months pass. I'm glad that it was a library book and not a book that I spent money on."

    Ouch... but I'm laughing even as I cut and paste it in. So I'm rebounding.

    Overall though, going well. Well... next book not so much. But wrote some very entertaining essay material this weekend. So hooray for that.

    Hope you're good! I see you're going with tankers for the next book. Hmmm... can't wait to hear how it develops.


  4. Sheri, Annie, and Lisa,

    Thanks for commiserating with me and, more importantly, laughing with me! I really appreciate the encouragement and feedback. :)

    Lis, good luck with the book! I know it's in you--don't feel pressured by anyone to get it done on some sort of obligatory timeline. I can't wait to read it.

    Have an awesome week!