Norman Mailer wrote in a letter to a publisher of The New York Times: “It does take three good reviews to overcome a bad one, if the bad one is a potential reader’s first acquaintance with the work.”
The thing about reviews is; there will always be bad ones. There will never be a book that everyone likes. This is an undisputed fact. All of us have different tastes, different experiences, and different schools of thoughts. This when added together, naturally, influences what we like to read. For instance, I like the sometimes hackneyed Gay-For-You stories. I like it so much that I find myself writing them. But there are others who absolutely hate this kind of storyline. To each his own.
Recently I spoke to a friend, F, revealing my insecurity of being the target of reviews, in particular negative-sounding ones. Yes, it had dawned on me belatedly after MKS was released that people (besides my friends) were actually going to read it and they might actually not like it. It was at this point in time I felt a tinge of regret sending my manuscript to the publisher in the first place. But the regret lasted less than a minute. F, God bless her soul, said something in response making me reflect. She said, in not so many words, to take the bad reviews and learn from them. And maybe I will. Thank you F.
Do bad reviews matter? Some writers would claim they don’t and perhaps they are right. But they still leave a foul taste in one’s mouth, especially if the comments are on the ‘baby’ you’ve worked on for months. So what does one do with negative reviews then? We can ignore them like some writers do (not surprisingly, these writers are more unruffled than most). Or we can use them as a tool to perfect our writing, once we get past the bashing of our ego that is.
With that, I’ve decided to take every review, good or bad with more than a large pinch of salt. We can definitely learn from some of the constructive reviews readers give. I am not saying that seeing reviews stating that your work is a “piece of s***” is going to be easy to stomach. But it does come with the territory of writing. And hey, at least someone is reading your book, right? Right?