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Friday, March 25, 2016

Dear Mad Writer

Dear Mad Writer,

This week I’ve talked about how working with beta readers, submitting to agents, and getting reviews can cause writers to be lazy or scared. Well, this can also breed anger. We’ve all heard about authors getting into fights with reviewers and publicly displaying it for others to see. Every time this has happened, the author has received a lot of backlash. Don’t make their mistake.

Anger #1 – Mean Critiques

Receiving a rude critique can bring shock, hurt feelings, tears and anger. When you reach anger, remember to bite your tongue. No matter how much you want to snap back, DON’T! You’ll only paint yourself as a childish, thin-skinned yuppie. Or worse.

I remember when a beta reader called one of my heroines a “psychotic narcissistic bitch.” And she didn’t stop there. She also called her rude, self-absorbed, and a menace. I was stunned speechless. When I did reply back I said, “Ouch. No one’s said that about her before.” And that’s all I said about that.

Even if what a beta reader says stings, don’t get defensive. Thank him/her for their suggestions even if you don’t mean it, and scratch their name off your future beta readers list. You won’t ever have to use him/her again.

Anger #2 – Rejection

If you shouldn’t send a nasty reply to beta readers or critique partners then you definitely don’t do it to agents. No matter how much you hoped a particular agent would want your book, don’t reply back to say they made a mistake and would regret it. As a matter of fact, they’ll probably be glad they didn’t offer you a contract after that display. Who would want to work with an unprofessional writer?

Don’t even reply back to say, “Thanks anyway” or “Thanks for your time.” You should’ve said that at the end of your query letter. Agents are busy. Unless you’re a signed client, don’t email them after a rejection. Just let it go.

Anger #3 – Bad Reviews

Many of us have received, or at least seen, awful reviews that probably made us want to address each cruel comment. Now more than ever is the time to stay silent, because if you attack a reviewer their army will come out in force against you. They’ll paint you as a distasteful author not worthy of readers, and you will lose readers. I’ve seen it happen.

If you ignore the bad reviews, your loyal readers will come out in force instead and back up your writing/story. Anything they have to say will carry more weight than if you tried to defend yourself.


QUESTION: As a writer, what makes you angry? How do you handle it?

Author of Hurricane Crimes, 30 Seconds, Ghost of Death, and Witch of Death. Blogger. Reader. Auntie. Vegetarian. Cat Lover.


Jeffrey Scott said...

All good suggestions. Nothing good ever comes from trying to be combative to a critique. It will only make them firmer in their believes. It's the old, "I shout the loudest, therefore I'm right" viewpoint. Why give anyone more fuel to add to their fire?

I like your thoughts on rejection too. It truly can be applied to any form of rejection. Something you just have to let things go. I had to learn early on, you can't please all of the people all of the time. I recall reading reviews of the film, "A Night To Remember" and out of all the shining comments, was one guy who said everyone was crazy and it was one of the worst films in history with wooden characters, bad acting, and no story outside of the ship sinking. I watched the film and disagreed with him 100% and felt like replying to his scathing remarks. Then I realized, he had his viewpoint and no matter how hard I could try, I was not going to make him think another way.

As a writer, what hurts me most is when a person is unwilling to give something a try. But again, that's mostly my fault. If I can't make the story grip a person in the first sentence, it's likely my own fault.

PS - Sorry for the long reply.

Chrys Fey said...

@Jeffrey, don'y be sorry for a long reply. :)

Yes, hundreds of people can feel one way about one thing and one could feel different. Or there could be hundreds who love it and hundred who hate it. We're all so different that not everything is going to be liked by everyone.

Someone reviewed Ghost of Death and said she only read the beginning then stopped because she found it to be a cliche. And she didn't read anymore. That hurt me because I thought that if she had given it a chance, her mind could've changed. Also, everyone else who reviewed it said the premise was intriguing and they had never come across anything like it before.

Anonymous said...

I agree on all of these. With #3, I've seen some horrible online situations between authors and reviewers.

Anonymous said...

When I'm going through beta notes, there's usually a point where I start getting cranky at the suggestions and comments. That tends to mean it's time for me to take a break and when I come back, I'm not as bothered.

Lidy said...

Great suggestions Chrys. When faced with such situations, it's best to turn the other cheek and keep on walking. Being combative will only hurt you. Harper Lee said it best, "I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide."

Chrys Fey said...

@Medeia, it does get nasty on the Internet.

@Patricia, sometimes I get cranky too. Until I sit back and realize what would help my story and what is just a load of bologna. ;)

@Lidy, you're absolutely right! That's a great Harper Lee quote too.

Yolanda Renée said...

All great advice. Never take it personally, writing and the like or dislike of it is all subjective. Just learn from it and move on!
Hi, Chrys!

Chrys Fey said...

@Yolanda, precisely. :) We all need to learn to move on and let this go.

Liz A. said...

A long time ago, I was taught that anger was just fear projected outward. So, when something makes me so angry I'm fuming, I try to take a step back and figure out where the fear is coming from. That usually dispels much of the emotion.

Huntress said...

On a Facebook group, in a discussion about book covers, I asked if they could determine whether my book cover for Wilder Mage was professional or not.

Big mistake. I'm still recovering from rude remarks. I commented that we all have our different tastes but holy cats, they didn't want to hear it. Their opinion was right and i was wrong.
I said all things are subjective especially opinions and ended up ignoring the nastiness.

One guy was outraged that I didn't love his pic of a mermaid being impaled on a fishhook. Gah.
To each his own. but I can't believe how much it affected me. Still.

J.H. Moncrieff said...

It makes me angry when writers attack other writers' choice of genre. We see this a lot when literary writers attack those who write genre fiction, but genre writers have also been known to turn their noses up at other genre writers.

We're all on the same team, damn it!

I must admit, I have responded to agents' rejections to thank them when they've read a full and given me significant feedback. Sometimes they don't respond, but more often than not it's resulted in a nice conversation...even a revise and resubmit request.

J. Arlene Culiner said...

Yes, of course. It's great advice, but the temptation is so strong to defend oneself against unfair comments — particularly when they're badly written (he-he.)