As a writer, your novels become your children. You’re blind to their faults, but you know they’re there. It’s okay if you notice the imperfections and make an effort to correct them, but when others shine a light on them, you become protective, defensive, possibly even a little agitated. It’s somewhat natural for writers to feel this way. After spending months, or even years, crafting your novel and exposing your innermost thoughts and imagination, you become proud of the total work. The characters become real. The story, even if fiction, begins to border on reality. So, when a review is posted highlighting your misuse of tense in chapter 9, you begin to wonder why you expose yourself to such rigorous inspection.
Here’s why. As much as you disdain nitpicky criticism, you need it to improve. Just as runners strive for faster times and climbers pursue higher peaks, writers seek approval that can only come from constantly improving their product. There is a unique difference for writers, though. Runners face their time, and climbers face the terrain above them, but writers face the opinions of hundreds, hopefully thousands, of readers. For writers, it’s a numbers game. You will never please everyone, but for some reason, writers will always try. You may have dozens of five-star ratings on Amazon, but it’s the few two-star ratings that will have you reading and re-reading their comments, analyzing their credibility and accuracy.
In the end, there’s only one thing worse than getting a bad review -- it’s getting too few. We need the feedback. We want to know that readers care about what we write. We log on every day to Amazon and goodreads to see how many and what kind of reviews we’ve received. When we get an especially good one, we wave it triumphantly like a flag on our Facebook page for all to see.
Still, our novels are our children. We bring them to life. We direct their future. It’s up to us to determine how and if we use the feedback to continue shaping them. We only hope readers will continue to share their thoughts and give us that chance.