From its humble beginnings on pen and paper (when I was 16 years old), the finished product, released in 2005 (1st edition), holds a plethora of issues: the characters aren’t fully rounded, the ending is rushed, there’s an overpowering sex scene that doesn’t fit well in the book, plot holes…I could go on!
As such, it’s received very mixed reviews by audiences. Certainly, some of the reviews on Amazon US are particularly scathing (have a read for yourself).
I used to let these get to me. As a budding author, releasing a debut fantasy novel was always going to be a tall order, but back then, when I was younger and inexperienced, I thought my books could do no wrong. Criticism hurt back then, but not any more.
Many reviews, if they’re negative, can at least point to the reasons why the reviewer feels your work is lacking. These sorts of reviews are invaluable in the learning process of how to construct a better book. I actively seek out such reviews, because it is revealed what the elements of the book are that make it…well, not so great. If more than one person says the same thing (such as your characters being thin and without substance) then you know what you have to work on.
Other bad reviews – the ones that basically are just filled with bile and vehement hatred – I can laugh at and discard. Unless the reviewer gives a good, structured narrative on why the book “sucked”, simply saying so is a matter of opinion, their prerogative of course, rather than fact, with no hard evidence to back up the claim.
I want to write this blog so that if any new authors are out there reading it, and they get disheartened by bad reviews, don’t let them get to you. At best, they can tell you things about your book you may have overlooked (or not even thought of). At worst, they can be ignored as someone simply having a rant. And, if you get mixed reviews, like I have with ‘A Wizard’s Tears’, you’ll also know that you have people who really enjoyed it, and this puts things in perspective. Even the most amazing literary greats get bad reviews. Not everyone likes Lord of the Rings, after all, but it’s not doing too badly despite this.
Keep at it, hone the skill; make the next book better! That’s my mantra, and I can only build on what’s gone before. I’ll never give up trying to write that ‘perfect’ book, and I’m my own worst critic, so I could be writing for an inordinate amount of time. However, remembering you’ve written a book (or several), is a pretty fine achievement, no matter how ‘good’ those books are perceived to be. Give yourself a pat on the back, smile, and crack on with the next!