Woo-hoo!!! Give the Lady a Ride got its first two-star review! Isn’t that great?!
According to conventional wisdom, when a book gets too many fours and fives, readers think the author’s friends are the only ones scoring the book. Well, yes, we do get friends and family to get the review process started. But before long, the scores start coming in from folks we don’t know. I can’t help it if folks I don’t know were scoring Ride with four and five stars, too. It’s the logical score for a terrific book, if I do say so myself.
I can’t help keeping an eye on my books and how they’re ranked. Smarter, more experienced authors learn to ignore this. Good reviews inflate the head, bad reviews stab the heart. The need for a rhino-hide goes both ways.
But I’m too entrenched in the fact I’m not “there” yet, haven’t reached my goals yet, to let the good reviews get to me much. I love them, don’t get me wrong–they’re incredibly encouraging–but they’re based on one book. The author who can consistently earn these coveted stars runs a higher risk of an ego trip. And this particular “two” doesn’t hurt my feelings at all. The person who wrote it made a couple of comments that speak more toward her unfamiliarity with bull riding and rodeo than it they did to my story. Rodeo cowboys have been taking a knee long before Tim Tebow threw his first completed pass, and, as I explained in the book, there are female bull riders. In this age of equality, that shouldn’t surprise anyone, but it goes back farther than that. Women were riding bulls for fun before Betty Friedan drew a breath.
My co-authored books have been doing just as well. Four- or five-star ratings are the norm for them. But Writing in Obedience also drew its first two, though this one doesn’t bother me either. The criticism was a valid one, something to learn from, and I appreciate it. I’m still proud of our book, I still believe it is a helpful tool for those who write Christian fiction and seek to be published, but for what this one woman was looking for, it missed the mark. 31 Devotions for Writers got a one-star rating out of meanness–which speaks more about the person writing it than it does the book.
These reviews are different from critiques, edits, and beta-reads. Unlike the manuscript that has been subjected to scrutiny, the books are out there, already on the market. There’s nothing I can do about them now–not that I want to, but keeping that in mind makes a difference when I read negative reviews.
How do you take your negative reviews? They’re inevitable, you know. Getting upset about them is pointless; learning from the ones worth learning from is priceless. Looking at both negative and positive reviews philosophically, with a thankful heart that God lets us engage in this wonderful, horrible job that we love, protects us from becoming egotistical or demoralized even better than rhino hide–but adopting a rhino hide never hurts.