Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Handling Reader Reviews

I'm kind of sensitive. I can't help it. My feelings get hurt easily. If you tell me you think I'm ugly, I'll try to burn you with a witty comeback (well... you're a loser, you... you buttface!). Your comment will secretly bother me for the next six months, though, and I'll start brushing my hair regularly and reluctantly considering your opinion when I pick out my clothes in the morning. In other words, I internalize criticism.

So, when it was time to hit "publish" on Lucky in Love, I gave myself a week's worth of stress headaches and a cold sore, worrying about what people would think.

She's totally going to give that book a bad review. I can tell.
(Image Credit: Vintage Vault
I've heard publishing your first book is like sending your kid out on the first day of school. What if they get teased on the bus? What if the teacher doesn't appreciate their quirky sense of humor and puts their desk in the supply closet so they can't distract the rest of the class? What if no one sits with them at the lunch table and someone starts a rumor that they eat their own boogers and it sticks with them all the way through high school?

(These were all actual fears of mine when I put my oldest boy in school for the first time after homeschooling, by the way. And no, he does not eat boogers.)

I wanted people to buy my book and read it, but I didn't want to know if they hated it. So, I shuddered in pure fear when Smashwords sent me an email last night, letting me know I had my first review. The first line went... "Romance novels are not my genre of choice but I thought I would give Lucky in Love a go." And my first review was from a guy. 

It was also the greatest first review I could have ever hoped for.

I know that I'll get feedback that's not all sunshine and roses, and, heck, everyone else might loathe Lucky. But for now, I can relax a little. I'll always be able to say that my first review was a good one. And in the meantime, I'll bookmark this USA Today article on handling negative reviews. There's some great quotes there from other romance authors, like this one, from NYT Bestseller author Jane Graves:

Image Credit: Wikipedia
"...I like to see a lot of reviews, because it's all about dilution. As long as you mix enough water with the poison, you can drink it without dying."
How are you at handling criticism? If you've already got 20 published books out there, do you still remember your first review?

P.S. Lucky in Love is now on sale at Barnes and Noble