Why I’m happy for you to hate my work
My friend Meredith just linked me to this article by Jacob Silverman, which really encompasses what I’ve been feeling for quite a while.
I’ve often talked about how tiring I find social networking (and being online in general) but I’m quite loathe to talk about this ‘officially’ on any of my ‘professional’ blogs. Even since I deleted my Twitter and my Tumblr because I just couldn’t keep up – the social networking was starting to seriously eat into my fiction-writing time – it just felt wrong to show any sign of ‘weakness’ or ‘grumpiness’ in a public forum. What if people didn’t like me? If people don’t like me, they might not buy my books!
I’ve noticed though, especially on Goodreads, that authors are sometimes actively discouraged from leaving bad reviews for other authors in case they ‘offend the wrong people’. But Silverman’s article is quite correct – a bad review, if it’s written honestly, constructively and intelligently, is not a character assassination. It’s often actually useful for the author – constructive criticism is how you grow. And, of course, if you receive a review along the lines of ‘I hate horror therefore this is rubbish’ or ‘omg dat character was so meeeeen this sucks’, then I think both author and any potential new readers can safely ignore those reviews.
I’d rather receive an intelligent bad review than an insincere good one. At least then I know that people are really reading my work. And I’d like to think that I have enough confidence in my own work that I hope to receive more good than bad reviews. Go on – give one of my stories a go, and please tell me honestly what you think.