Call me strange, but I like to read the negative book reviews of authors I like. I do it to build up my own immunity for when my novel is released and also to get an idea of what it is that puts readers off.
The reviews I read are mostly for Christian novels since my writing falls into that category and I could say I have discovered a few things by reading them, but that would imply that what I learned was some new concept when it was just a reminder of what I already knew:
You can’t please everyone… and in some cases, anyone.
My example is a book, which shall remain nameless to protect the poor, hardworking soul who wrote it; This book, this novel, considered by its publishers to be inspirational fiction was reviewed by Christians, non-Christians and likely some atheists. But I am only going to address the readers/reviewers the book was marketed to. Christians.
Christian readers gave mixed reviews. Some gave it five-stars, a thumbs-up, and did a hallelujah dance because it was just that good. Another segment of churched people were either generous and gave it four stars or were ambivalent and offered three, along with comments ranging from “good” to “not my favorite, but a decent read.” And then the final group, some who would have given it no stars if it were allowed, were really diverse in their opinions. Some were put off by the story or what they felt was a secular novel listed under the Christian label because it didn’t mention God enough, while at the same time others thought it was over the top and in your face with the Christian message, and thought the author should have toned it down.
Fortunately for this author the positives far outweighed the negatives. But it is a good reminder that not everyone, including those who read your genre are going to like your message, your style, or your story. Unfortunately too many well-meaning, people pleasing souls start out on the path intended for them and then get totally lost when they try to please everyone. I have been guilty of this in many areas of my life. The cure? You should seek to please only one and that’s God.
Whether you are cooking a meal for your family, performing a song for a crowd, running an office for an employer or writing a novel,“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Colossians 3:23
This will keep you on the right path with the right perspective, and unless the negatives offer a constructive lesson that can grow you, keep you focused on the positive.