It can sometimes be difficult to remain upbeat and confident when you are an author, indie published or published through a traditional publishing house. I suspect this is true for all the arts, and a great deal of our lives in general.
Speaking from an indie author point of view, sales are not the only measure of success for one's work. Reviews, believe it or not, can often play a big role in how an author perceives their success. Even with a myriad of glowing, or least constructive reviews, all it takes some days is for one nasty, critical review to dash the self-esteem of someone who puts themself in the public eye.
Learning to focus on the positive feedback, and the positive sales accomplishments is the best way for an indie author to overcome the negativity which they will receive. Make no doubt about it, you WILL receive negative comments, no matter how accomplished a writer and storyteller you are.
I have found a little trick I use when I receive what I feel are odd and possibly unjust reviews: I review the reviewer to see exactly who I am dealing with. The results are sometimes comical, if not downright sad.
I can accept criticism of spelling errors, the occasional grammatical or punctuation error, or even a flub in the format of my books, but I draw the line at criticism of things that do not even exist.
I have had several examples of such unwarranted criticisms which I found anger inducing at the time, but now I share them with friends and we laugh about it. There was the one critic who made reference to two of my characters, Alex and his frienemy, Connie, kissing each other passionately despite hating one another. This scene never happened in my books, electronic or in print - it only happened in the critic's mind. I was pissed at receiving the review which was a 1 star and completely negative. I then decided to check out who this reviewer was and, low and behold, they are anonymous! I love people brave enough to leave a negative review, but not even list their name, or at least a screen name. I then checked out his/her other reviews - they were the same. 1 star reviews and completely negative...except for a product called "HangoverX" to which they gave a 5 star review. Drinking problem? Maybe.
My next annoying, negative reviews came back to back, and were for the 2nd book in my series. The first negative reviewer gave the book a 3 star review, saying the book had a good premise, but he found a spelling error. He then went on to say that the plot and character continuity was a problem. The book deals with multiple characters and flashbacks in the story line. There are also references to the 1st book in the series, and events that took place in the 1st book. I get the feeling that he did not read book #1, but still, book #2 is carefully written and most assuredly has a carefully crafted story to ensure continuity from start to finish. Needless to say, I double checked to ensure there were no continuity issues, and when I found none, I decided to check out this reviewer as well and what I found in his review history was certainly entertaining!
My book appears to be in the minority as far as his preferred genres; he likes erotica and uses the same review for each of the other erotic books along with violence. There's nothing wrong with that, but my book is definitely not erotic! He also didn't like the movie "Ted", which, as anyone that can read knows, is a farcical comedy about a foul-mouthed teddy bear that comes to life and causes all sorts of mayhem. The reviewer rated it as a 1 star movie citing gratuitous foul language and stupidity (how does one take a talking teddy bear that hires hookers seriously?). I took pity on this reviewer as they seem to have a number of aches, pains and bladder control problems as well, at least based on their purchase review history. Oh well, next time maybe I will include some gratuitous sex and violence to keep him happy.
My last, and most favorite negative review came from a lady that used a screen name (nothing wrong with that and definitely beats 'anonymous'). Her main complaints were the plot, the 'choppy-writing' and the fact that the cover didn't match the story. Okay, I can accept if someone doesn't like the plot, but if they preview the book, or read the cover excerpt the plot is revealed, but to say that the cover didn't match the story? That annoyed me. The story is about a noble English family (hence the picture of the estate on the cover), a murder committed by a family member in the 19th century (enter the dagger on the cover) and the confession discovered years later by another family member (the letter on the cover). What did she expect to be on the cover - rainbows and unicorns?
This reviewer also has an interesting review history but the best review was a 5 star review she gave to a product called "Cell Shield" which does, well...read her review for yourself and draw your own conclusion:
"I feel good knowing I have protection for my brain from EMF's. It is very simple to use and the price is right."
I may not be a scientist, but I fail to see how some rubber doo-dad placed on your ear will stop electro-magnetic fields which, like gravity, are one of four fundamental forces of nature. Oh well, I guess it is more discreet than wearing a tinfoil hat!
The point of my rant is this: don't let the haters get you down! If you receive honest, constructive feedback, whether it be negative or positive, accept it and learn from it. However, when you receive one of these really negative and most likely uncalled for reviews, dig a little deeper into the review themselves (or just ignore them) and you might just find a reason to laugh!
I will admit that I have made mistakes with my books, but I have fixed those that I have found and continue to strive to improve with each new story. It takes more work to do this rather than give up, but everything worthwhile in life takes effort.
Despite some critical comments, my 1st book remains at #48 on the Kindle best sellers list for Ghosts in Canada after more than a year on the market and my 2nd book is #218 in the paperback version of the same genre. Not bad for a newbie that writes like a 12 year old girl!
Stay positive and keep working at your craft!