aka THE D.I.A.L. STRATEGY FOR DEALING WITH CYBERBULLIES
I feel really fortunate that I’m in a career, finally, where I write whatever I want. Nobody is standing over my shoulder saying “Nope. You can’t say that.”
I give my thoughts, opinions, curse, talk about sex, high heels, and well, be as much of a snarky bitch as I want. I even say “Hello, Mcfly,” cause I think it’s funny and I’m friends with one of the extras (now an author) from the movie. Sometimes I write difficult essays about my past. I do this because I’m a writer. And because I can.
I’ve written two books of essays, released them both this past year and am thrilled to say they’ve been well-received, are selling well, and one, The Mancode: Exposed, even made it into the Kindle Top 100 Paid the first week of January this year.
For the most part, the majority of my reviews are terrific. For the record, I don’t have friends and family review my books. I don’t even ask. Legitimate reviewers (book bloggers, book reviewers, even well-respected journalists, etc. — people I don’t know and have never met) are giving their opinions. And of course, there are people who read the book and post reviews on their own.
I also get lots of people who don’t like, no who hate what I write. Who judge me as I person, based on my writing. And that’s cool. No really, it is.
I love that I’ve made them so hopping mad, so emotionally curled up into a little ball of fury that they write horrible, mean things about ME. That this redhead in a sea of blondes is the target of their vehement rants. Me, this chick that a year ago nobody had ever even heard of before.
Now, I don’t react to any of these reviews because A) it would be unprofessional and B) seriously, it’s a waste of my time.
But wait. Is it?
As authors, we put ourselves out there and knowingly or not, are now targets of criticism. Reviews, from readers and reviewers, help others make buying decisions. Like it or not, you and your book are now a product. Most legit reviewers follow guidelines – checking for structure, flow, grammar, editing, formatting, proofreading, etc. while readers general give a gut feel to the work.
Unfortunately, there are also people who regularly give 1-stars for whatever reason. To protect their own favorite authors in some way, because they don’t like you, indie backlash, who knows? Oftentimes, these folks haven’t even read the book (notice it doesn’t say ‘Verified Purchase’) and their reviews are often one line.
So, I’ve come up with what I call The D.I.A.L. Strategy for dealing with these 1-star reviews to help my author friends and readers separate helpful reviews from those that are perhaps just cyberbullies.
1) DEAL: One of my author friends says, STOP. Don’t read anything under a 4-star. It’s bad for the psyche. Another says it’s toxic for your soul and it affects your confidence.
But, is it a waste of time to read them in the first place…really?
No. Listen, we put ourselves out there. Accept that people will hate you for whatever reason. Your hair color. Your eyes. Where you live. People hate that I mention a certain brand of shoes and say “baby.”
So what? Deal with it. Man up.
I don’t mean read it to let it get under your skin and crawl into a trembling hole of freaked out chocolate coma. Ok, well, do that if you must, but then get up and drink some coffee. It’s good market research and demographic data, i.e., people who hate that I say “baby” are not people who will buy my next book.
Good to know. And oh well.
For any creative, should we heed our critics?
2) IGNORE. As a long-time sale rep (fifteen years), I had a proven track record of success. Won lots of awards, trips, bonuses, was promoted to the home office, blah blah. Had decent managers, one great one, several not so great. One not so great got in my car for our first ride-a-long and after our first call together said, “I don’t see what the big deal is,” and put me on performance improvement. (This was after I’d been chosen out of all the top senior reps in the region to work with the international head of the company and had a stellar day just weeks earlier.)
What she said didn’t change a thing about my daily routine (except for a few more inane reports). I still exceeded my quotas and won more awards.
My point is this: everyone is a critic. People who dislike you and even people who think the world of you. Is that feedback helpful? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
Ignore may seem antithetical to my other points but what I mean is don’t let it eat at your soul. It is what it is. These people are not gods. Does their opinion matter that much if you don’t even know who they are? Do you respect total strangers who are saying awful things about you? I know I don’t.
3) ANALYZE Do I read it all? Yes. I learned, for example, that some people think #hashtags are #typos. People sometimes criticize or judge what they don’t understand. So I added into my introduction an explanation of what hashtags are as well as a quick sentence on my Amazon page. (I even had to explain them to Amazon, but that’s a whole other blog post.)
Someone else said I used cliché “Sex and the City” phrasing in all my essays, which made me laugh since I’m one of the few women who hated that show. Though I did use one example of Carrie in one essay. (And everyone knows she wore Blahniks and I love Prada.)
But that is useful information for future. At some point. Probably. Maybe?
4) LAUGH What many of these 1-stars write is so off the mark (and I’m not only talking about my books here; I’m very protective of my favorite authors and check their pages often), I often wonder if they read the book I wrote, or if we read the same author’s book.
Clearly many of these folks are on a mission to leave poor reviews for authors that often have nothing at all to do with the content of the book itself. Notice, they are often a single line – a sure sign they haven’t read the book at all.
I wrote last week that it’s important authors (or any creative) surround ourselves with people who support us, but ultimately you have to trust your own voice and vision.
My overall feeling is this: don’t take anything personally (bow to Don Miguel Ruiz).
Writing is an art. Words can be so lyrically beautiful they can make us cry. Or we can disagree in fury. Or laugh til our stomach hurts. Evoking any emotion is the point. Any author lives for that.
Hate me all you want – that’s a pretty strong emotional reaction.
I’m writing my view, my experiences, my truth.
If you want to write your truth, write your own damn book.
Answer this: What’s YOUR way of dealing with difficult reviews? Comment below, on Twitter, or Facebook. I LOVE comments, opinions, and polite discourse. If you don’t want to be polite, go drink more coffee.
Want help with your social media or author campaign? Check out my site for info, rates, and references.
- Life in Quotations; Featuring Rachel in the OC (kellieelmore.com)
- Adventures in Self-Publishing, Chap. 10: How to Promote your Book (Part I) (consortiuminfo.org)
- What Kind of Emotions Do You Want Your Readers to Feel? (and a Plea for Authors to Be Professional) (selfpubauthors.wordpress.com)