Reader Friday: Unfair Criticism

“Never demean yourself by talking back to a critic, never. Write those letters to the editor in your head, but don’t put them on paper.” – Truman Capote

How do you handle unfair criticism?

21 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Unfair Criticism

  1. Rename the critic, then put the scoundrel in a story where they can be properly displayed as a bottom feeder, where they shall receive their just reward. (Fist pump!)

  2. There is the Michael Crichton approach, the small penis pedophile, but This article suggests it might not be the best idea.

    A look through Reddit will show you numerous resturants who have posted quotes from Yelp to the effect, “The worst cup of coffee ever according to one Yelp reviewer.”

    In a world where anyone can be an expert online, read, shake your head, and move on.

  3. “I don’t pay no attention to no kind of critics about nothing. If they knew as much as they claim about what they’re criticizing, then they ought to be doing that instead of standing on the sidelines using their mouth.” ~Muhammad Ali.

  4. Good question to ponder.

    I try to remember that the unfair critic is a human with a life, experiences, and POV about which I know nothing. Some of the unfair criticism directed at me may be fed by sources of which I’m ignorant.

    I dissect the unfair criticism, own the true parts, and ignore the rest.

    And then, the really hard part: I try to remember the experience when it’s my turn to be a critic.

    This formula works for me in my writing life, and in my wider life of relationships with family and friends.

  5. What I’d like to know is not how to avoid critics, but how to get your book noticed in the first place. My book has great reviews (all handful of them) but Amazon makes it nearly impossible to find even when you key in the exact title of it. Unless you know the author and the book title, you are toast. I’ve tried advertising (on a small scale – I’m a writer, not a billionaire). I’ve tried having someone “promote” my book by placing posts on their book promo site with “thousands of followers.” And each day, new books are published and mine sinks down a bit in the Amazon ratings. Meanwhile, I have a new book (sequel to the first) coming out after the first of the year. My small, boutique publisher thinks it is really good. But I wonder if all this is really worth it. You all know how much work, sweat, time, tears, effort, love goes into your work. How do you cope when almost no one notices? I’ve seen at least one person here refer to one of my favorite authors as “Mike” Connelly. How do you get on a first-name basis with such an author? How do you get anyone who can really help to notice your work and lend a hand – even in a small way – to promote it? How do you keep going when nothing seems to help? Even a bad critique tells you someone noticed you. So maybe I’m off-base here with this post, but I’m becoming discouraged even with the great reviews my book has gotten. Is it worth it to keep on keeping on?

  6. If we’re talking reviews, most of my career was before reader reviews became the rage so professional review sites and magazines. Only one brutal review by a first-time reviewer who said I couldn’t write a grammatical sentence, and I couldn’t spell. Insult my book, okay, but say I’m illiterate–blood pressure rises. My editor was not amused, either. Between us, we had seven degrees in English and had taught over forty years so illterate wasn’t happening. (Spoiler Alert: His review was full of typos and bad grammar.) The review was out so nothing could be done, but I contacted the review editor and suggested that they should probably vet their new reviewers so they wouldn’t be embarrassed by such poorly written reviews. That was his only review.

    The only other times I contacted the editor was on reviews I received before they were posted. Character names were wrong, mostly. But one review revealed the big plot twist which changed everything and would ruin the plot for the reader. That was corrected, thank God.

  7. I ignore the bad review and complain to my long-suffering husband. I’m more likely to dismiss reader reviews. (One complained the book was too expensive. My publisher sets the price.) I do pay attention to the criticism of professional reviewers. They can be right and their criticisms have improved my next book.

  8. I don’t think there’s such a thing as an “unfair” review, assuming it’s coming from an honest place. Trolls gotta troll, right? That said, some reviews are unnecessarily snarky, but snark is all the rage these days.

    I have one rule: I don’t respond to reviews. Hard stop. I figure if I’m going to respond to the raves, then I’m ethically bound to reply to the bad ones, too, and there’s no future in that.

    My rules are different with emails that I receive. I treat those as real correspondence. Truth be told, I don’t remember the last email I got that was not at least respectful. Some take me to task for mistakes, and others take me to tasks for creative choices that the correspondents disagree with. I see nothing wrong with them sharing their thoughts. Sometimes I defend my work, sometimes I don’t.

    In all cases, I thank them for the time and effort it took for them to reach out to me.

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