Sunday, March 7, 2010

Negative Criticism in The Public Arena

If your published or public work gets reamed by someone else, congratulations! First, you're published. Second, enough people know about you to assume opinion about your work might interest other people. That's kind of huge, if you think about it. Something you created is well known enough that people who make their living writing about stuff other people wrote picked on your book as a title whose name recognition they could skate on.

And finally, if you must respond, take a page from Sandra Bullock. She didn't post a drunken diatribe on a webpage, she took the heat, and she defended her work without telling anybody they were wrong or too stupid to "get" her.


  1. Sandra Bullock is cool. It's good to see celebrities that are down to earth.

  2. They're all bad and wrong and nobody does it right.

    Oh wait. That's not what you meant, is it?

    Actually, I think getting such a reaction is a sign that your words have done their job in eliciting strong emotion. Now where that backfires is when the reviewer kills a perfectly good book.

    Happened to a friend of mine who wrote a book in verse about a girl growing up in an alcoholic family. Awesome book - to me. Got one good review and one okay review, so it wasn't everyone's cup of tea. Then... Along comes a reviewer who seems to take the book as a personal attack on her and dismembers it. Not a pretty sight and it killed the sales - dead.

    When I read her review, I had to think there must be alcoholism in her own family and she was in denial. Really strong denial. Touched a nerve and all that.

    It happens and handling it with grace is a must, but really, really hard.

  3. Laurel, thanks for the role model. It's good to see people who respond gracefully. And graciously. Sarah--what a bummer. I'm sorry that happened to your friend. Hopefully she's got another book in her!

  4. Ditto what Heather said! That is really harsh, Sarah.

  5. It must really sting.

    But yes, so much better not to respond. Just some "I respect his/her opinion..." or some other simple, but vanilla validation is probably best.

  6. Just saw your comment over at Moonie's and had to stop by. I loved THE SOUND AND THE FURY, too. In fact, I gave someone my marked-up copy to read, never to get it back.

    Now that I live in the south, I'd love another chance to read TSATF. Bought a copy of the Portable Faulkner a few years ago. Read AS I LAY DYING for fun. Liked ABSALOM but not as much as THE SOUND.

  7. Cool, Caroline! I couldn't make up my mine on As I Lay Dying. It was either the saddest book ever or the blackest comedy ever. TSATF, though, sang to my soul.