Perhaps the worst part of writing is the criticism that will come. It's inevitable. Publish something and someone's bound to not like it. Social media
only compounds the issue, empowering reviewers with star ratings,
Likes, and Top Reviewer statuses. You invest blood, sweat, and tears in
your novel only to have someone you've never met pan it to 1K-plus
followers. So if you're planning on lasting very long in this writing
gig, learning how to approach criticism is a necessary survival skill.
Statistically speaking, for every complaint a business receives, another 24 unsatisfied customers never call. They just stop frequenting that business. The same is true for writers. You will never hear from the majority of readers who have an issue with your stuff. Most of them will probably just tell their friends what they didn't like and, perhaps, opt out of reading anything else written by you.
Which is why criticism offered can be a valuable thing.
Several years ago, I was contacted by a multi-published author who'd seen that I was reading their current novel. They wanted my honest feedback. As one with no shortage of opinions, I graciously outlined what I felt were pros and cons of the book. My critique was very balanced and measured; anything but a harsh, one-sided appraisal. However, the author took it hard. They bemoaned their sales and became defensive. I felt bad. I mean, Why ask if you're not prepared for honest critique?
The takeaway from that exchange was not that writers can be thin-skinned, but that navigating criticism is essential to longevity. And mental health. It is not within my power to control how readers will respond to my writing. It IS within my power to control how I respond to their opinions and criticism.
So how should writers approach criticism? Here's 5 suggestions:
Criticism is an inevitable part of writing. No author is immune from it. Which is why learning HOW to approach and handle criticism is so important. It is not within your power to control how readers will respond to your writing. It IS within your power to control how you respond to their opinions and criticism.
Question: What are some other ways that writers can constructively approach criticism?
Mike Duran is a monthly contributor to Novel Rocket, and is represented by the rockin' Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. Mike's novels include The Telling, The Resurrection, an ebook novella, Winterland, and his newly released short story anthology Subterranea You can visit his website at www.mikeduran.com.