My friend Cindy Meyer of The Book Enthusiast recently shared a quote that she liked on Facebook, “Take criticism and smash it into dust, add color and use it to paint breathtaking images of unicorns frolicking through endless fields of greatness.”
~ Matthew Gray Gubler
I started commenting on it and the comment became so long I figured that I might as well blog it. So here’s what I have to say about it.
I like that quote too! I think that you can almost always take something negative (I’m assuming that we’re talking criticism that’s unconstructive) and turn into something positive. I’ve had a couple of harsh(ish) critics say that my book couple was too happy and/or fell in love too fast. I knew when I wrote it that my book broke a lot of the “Rules” I had learned when learning how to write romance novels. I like being a rule breaker though! So, I laughingly started calling myself a “badass indie” and celebrated the fact that I had done things differently. Lo and behold, I started getting tons of e-mails from fans who LOVED the fact that Gabrielle and Braden didn’t spend most of the novel fighting! I even had some blog reviewers call that “refreshing.” So – now when I get that criticism I don’t worry because I can always quote the people who heartily disagree! If I had just ignored it completely, or worse, tried to fight back, the result would likely have been much different. Now, I always try to take something negative and spin it (without drawing attention to it directly.)
Luckily – very few people have said anything negative at all about my book. But there have been a couple and I even had to wonder if they had an agenda. (No, I’m not a conspiracy theorist; a lot of weird stuff happens in publishing!) Still, their criticism fell flat because I used this strategy and I recommend it to anyone. Want to call me a boring storyteller? I’ll tell you how great some people think it is to read a book that isn’t filled with angst! Want to say that my book isn’t as funny, sexy, interesting, you fill in the blank, as so and so’s book ? I’ll tell how many people find my book unique — all while never directly bringing attention to your petty comments! LOL!
The key is to focus on positive things while never giving a platform to the negative. Unless they are blasting you in the New York Times the chances are that they have a limited audience. Even if they post a mean review on Amazon or Goodreads, as long as there are plenty of great reviews, most potential buyers can figure out that the book is good. In fact, it will just make them look bad. Their pettiness and meanness won’t be hard to miss.
This goes for people who attack indie authors general by the way. Don’t give them wider distribution by addressing their little piece that was probably seen by 50 people tops. Just share great articles about fabulous indies who are making a big impact!
Focus on the positive and you can’t go wrong!