Dealing With Negative Reviews – J. Keller Ford


I’ll do my Faber post tomorrow, because today I have a very special guest 🙂

J. (Jenny) Keller Ford is a quirky mother of four, grand-mother and scribbler of young adult fantasy tales. She has an insatiable appetite for magic, dragons, knights and faeries, and tries to weave at least one into every story she conceives. Her muse follows her everywhere and talks incessantly, feeding her ideas for stories 24/7.

When she’s not torturing her characters mercilessly, J. Keller enjoys living in sunny Florida, listening to smooth jazz, collecting seashells, swimming, bowling, riding roller coasters and reading. Her most loyal fans (beside her family) consist of two Australian Shepherds, a mixed-breed hippy dog, and a precocious orange cat, all of whom believe J. Keller is their slave. She thinks they might be right.

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Jenny has recently been published in the Make Believe Anthology and today, is talking about…..

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Dealing With Negative Reviews

Actor Anthony Hopkins once said, “My philosophy is: It’s none of my business what people say of me and think of me. I am what I am and I do what I do. I expect nothing and accept everything. And it makes life so much easier.”

It’s a philosophy that has taken me a little time to realize, but I finally got it.

I think it’s important to understand I’ve always been someone who craved approval. I need it, even now. It must be the Leo in me coming out. I’m a perfectionist. I have to have things certain ways and I need to know I’m appreciated. It’s a part of who I am.

It’s no wonder then that I craved approval when I first started writing. I was actually terrified to throw my work out to the public, frightened by what they would think. Self-doubt and I became great friends, until the day Desire knocked on my back door. Next thing I knew, I joined an online critique site. Talk about a rollercoaster ride. Some critiques gushed with praise. Others seemed to trash everything I wrote. Self-doubt told me to stop. Desire screamed, “Do it again and again! Don’t you dare give up!” I joined other writer sites, other blogs. I met up with some fantastic beta readers who weren’t afraid to show me the flaws in my writing while keeping me motivated and focused.

Then one day this past Spring, it happened. I got my first offer of publication. I was elated. All the hard work, all the dedication, all the long hours of honing the craft of writing finally paid off. A publisher wanted MY story.

The next few months were dedicated to heavy doses of Marketing 101 and I was still riding high on the publishing wave. Then the end of November came and the ARCs (advanced reader copy) went out to various readers and reviewers. A new visitor came to see me: Anticipation, and I found myself wondering once again if ‘they’ were going to like it.

Anthologies are a double-edge sword as they contain a review of the anthology itself, and then individual reviews. MAKE BELIEVE has garnered at least twenty reviews and has phenomenal ratings. I think I can speak for all six authors when I say we’re thrilled to see the anthology so well received.

As for my story, The Amulet of Ormisez? Well, let’s just say it hasn’t been one of the ‘better’ received stories. Everything I tried so hard to do right turned out so wrong. Self-doubt cackled and sat her big rear-end on top of me and wouldn’t move…that is until I got a few virtual smacks along with a few stern words from my beta readers and my daughter. They reminded me that my publisher, who is VERY picky about what they publish, believed in my story enough to publish it. It took my daughter to remind me that a lot of people HATED Harry Potter and many reviewers claimed there were plot holes all over the place. “Ha!” she said. “Do you think Rowling cares what they think?” Another friend reminded me that even Stephen King is not a stranger to bad reviews, but does that stop him from writing? The kicker came when a friend said to me, “Stop caring about what other people think. The only opinion about you that matters is your own.” Something clicked.

So, here I am, a published author and stronger and wiser for the wear. I’ve weathered the ‘review’ storm of my first published piece, and you know what, it wasn’t that bad. Some people loved my story. Some didn’t. That’s okay. My writing isn’t going to appeal to everyone nor should it. As the incomparable Anthony Hopkins said, “It’s none of my business what people say of me and think of me. I am what I am and I do what I do. I expect nothing and accept everything. And it makes life so much easier.”

Amen, Mr. Hopkins. Amen.

Thank you so much Jenny, I really enjoyed that. And like you say, even Stephen King gets bad reviews! Are you dreading that first bad review? Have you had one? How did you deal with it? I seriously think I will cry lol, my critique at Faber was bad enough!

Check out Jenny’s Excellent Blog (I’ve been a follower for a while now) and if you’d like to purchase a copy of Make Believe its available now on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk as a download for Kindle. I’ve already added it to my wish list 😉

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48 thoughts on “Dealing With Negative Reviews – J. Keller Ford

  1. I’d love to read it and wish it was in paperback. I’ve known about it for a while and tried to write a story for it. Unfortunately, one of the criteria was a HEA ending and mine was not so much. And by the way I attempted to read Rowlings latest – and couldn’t finish it. And no she doesn’t care that Sue thought it was badly written 😀

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    • I suppose I wouldn’t care so much if I were as rich as the Queen of England! 🙂 The thing is, even when Rowling was poor, she believed in Harry. I believe in my stories, too. After all, if I don’t believe in my own writing, who else will.

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  2. As a fellow Leo, I understand that need for approval and how it dictates my view of my writing. This was very encouraging, and the second thing I’ve read today that remind me that I should keep going. Lovely write.

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  3. Thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Vikki. I read the last line you wrote and I heard me in you, and you know what…it’s okay to cry. Bad reviews hurt, especially the first ones. But pretty soon your hide thickens and you start seeing the good reviews and you realize there ARE people that love your writing. It’s not your imagination, and those people are the ones you write for outside of yourself. Believe in your writing and others will follow. 🙂

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  4. I really enjoyed reading this, as even the possibility of receiving negative reviews scares the heck out of me! I guess writers need to grow thick skins, but the advice to “believe in your writing” above all else really is what we need to take to heart. Thanks so much for this! ~ Julie 🙂

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  5. Pingback: Dealing with negative reviews | J. Keller Ford ~ Author

  6. What a great post! First of all, congratulations on being published ~ that’s a huge achievement and fabulous affirmation. Well done!! So happy for you. Secondly, the dreaded bad review… often accompanied by a low star rating. Ouch. It’s like a punch in the solar plexus. I have had a few luke-warm to scathing reviews and I’ve discovered I deal with them in two ways.

    Some of these not-so-great reviews simply say, “it’s not my cup of tea.” Fine, I can live with that. It hurts for a little while, but it’s ok. Although my personal choice, upon reading a book that I didn’t enjoy because it’s not my cuppa might be simply not to review it. (My Mum always taught me that if you can’t say something nice, it’s better to say nothing at all… does she have a point?)

    However, there are the other type, the vitriolic, rambling types that leave you wondering whether the reviewer actually bothered to read the book. So far, I’ve only received one of those and after the initial horror, I had to laugh. Honestly! What else can you do? So I think bad reviews require a thick skin and a good dose of humour.

    Wishing you all the best with MAKE BELIEVE and sending apologies for such a rambling comment! 🙂 xx

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    • Ha ha ha, I’m EXACTLY the same Nicky, I was brought up with the motto if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything, but, in light of Amazons decision to delete 5 star reviews I’ve been trying to actually post reviews of the books I don’t like, that’s hard 😦

      Xx

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    • I love rambling comments. I’m a fan myself, or haven’t you noticed. 🙂 Thank you for your kind words. I think part of my problem was that I always felt I needed to be the best. I realized I don’t have to compare myself to others to be the best. All I have to do is be me and write the best I can. Someone, somewhere will be touched by my words. That’s all that matters.

      I also learned that reviews aren’t meant for the authors. They’re meant for readers. I have the choice: to read or not to read. Lately, I choose not to read and focus my time on my writing and editing. Onward and upward, right? I have no time to dwell on the past and negative thoughts have no place in my life. Focus on the positive and move forward. That’s my frame of mind every day.

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  7. I love it when two of my favourite bloggers get together! Great topic. You have to believe in yourself and your writing, as you say, because if you don’t, how can you make other people believe in it. And you are published, which is quality control anyway. (Yes, I know, you’ll say that a lot of rubbish gets published, but usually that is from celebs and famous authors, because they have the name and can get away with it.)

    I am still so new to writing that I swoon and faint whenever I get the slightest negative critique – although, paradoxically, when I get praise, I instinctively distrust it and say ‘Why aren’t people being honest with me?’

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  8. Thanks for a great post, Jenny. As a Libra/Virgo, I rock back and forth between determination and indecision. When I get mixed reactions from my BETA readers, I pout or wallow in self doubt. I think it’s good training for what comes later. Of course, at this point I’d be thrilled with a review, I’d be over the top to get between the boards. You listen to your daughter. A wise woman once told me, our best friends and our best critics are our children 🙂

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  9. I’ve mainly had good reviews but there is one that hurt my feelings. However when I think about it, I just want to be read and for readers to be honest about what I write. Not everyone is going to like me. And that is going to be OK.

    Thanks for this eye opening post, Viki, I really enjoyed it. 🙂

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  10. Not everyone’s going to love everything. That’s just life. Also, sometimes people react negatively when you’ve told an emotional truth that cuts them too close to the bone. Instead of facing it, they lash out.

    What makes me crazy in negative reviews is when something I’ve fought for and lost during the production process gets nailed, something out of my control, that I KNEW should have been changed and wasn’t. Still, it’s out of my control, and one just has to let it go.

    Great post, and best wishes!

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  11. Every writer struggles with self doubt and every writer gets bad reviews. If we all thought we were the bees knees we’d not try to improve ourselves right? Self doubt makes us want to do better. So in that sense… it’s a good thing!

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      • Really excellent post and so many valid points. Thank you! It’s easy to forget that when dealing with anything creative, opinions are subjective. I shriek like an excited puppy when I get a good review and try not to feel gutted when I get a less enthusiastic reception! Although I know intellectually that in the grand scheme of life, a bad review shouldn’t matter, emotionally it can be harder to accept. Maybe that is because when we write we are baring our souls and making ourselves vulnerable. And just to prove how subjective the thing is, I once sent a story to a magazine which the editor totally trashed – she hated everything about it (and used that word). When I had got over the onslaught, I reminded myself that how we perceive something depends on where we are in our own lives at the time. We bring our own baggage to it. I went back to the story to see if she was right. Was it really so awful? I concluded that I still believed in the story. I sent it in for a national writing competition and it got 2nd prize. Same story. Different reader.

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      • Congrats on the win and you are so right. Where we are in our personal lives really does dictate how we receive reviews…good and bad. As I writer, I also question my abilities, especially when I see my fellow authors doing so darn well and I’m stuck in a rut. What I have to remind myself is that it’s not my time, yet. When it is, I’m going to shine bright. I’ve learned we can’t let other’s opinions, successes or failures dictate who we are and it is suicide to compare ourselves with others. We are who we are and we’re amazing, fantastic individuals. It would be a boring world if we were all the same. All the best with your writing endeavors.

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  12. Aw Jenny I’m so excited your story was in the anthology! Sorry you had negative feedback. I recently had a conversation with a friend about Taylor Swift. I love her and think she’s mega talented. My friend despises her and thinks her songs stink. I politely told my friend, “You are entitled to your opinion. It in no way influences or affects mine.” I think that’s what we have to realize as writers. Our writing won’t resonate with everyone. And some will deride it. We just have to dig into that inner belief in the story that propelled us to write it. You are published! You are out there doing your thing! Congrats!!!!

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  13. I think it’s particularly hard in an anthology like this that contains such diversity. It is almost impossible for all the stories to resonate with everyone, because they are all so dissimilar. That’s why I don’t read reviews unless someone points me at them. (Or it could just be because I haven’t had the time) 🙂

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    • Ah, negative or positive doesn’t matter to me anymore. I’m writing. I’m enjoying what I love to do. I tend to write for a niche market. Some will like it, some won’t. That’s what makes the world go ’round.

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