Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Critiques and Haters: Knowing the Difference

As you grow in your writing and publishing journey, a sad fact will eventually rear its painfully ugly head.

Not everyone loves your work.

Unthinkable, true, but still a fact of the writing career. But there really is a difference between honest critiques and haters. So, before you get too upset over your first one-star review or a heavy critique from an editor, here are a few things to consider.

  • Who is the person critiquing your story? Is he/she a professional author or editor? A professional author/editor is purely objective, knows what he/she is talking about, and generally knows how to balance criticism with praise. If you are looking for the most honest opinion, these individuals are best. And you can be pretty sure they are not out to hurt you or be cruel - they are just being honest.
  • Sometimes, super close friends or family are not the best for editing/critiquing (although there are definite exceptions!). Close family and friends tend to be either too critical or too lax - probably because they want you to succeed so much! Bear this in mind before you take severe critiquing or gushing praise too seriously.
  • If someone doesn't like something in your story because of poor grammar, cliches, childishness, or weak plots, they are right. Period. Don't be upset when someone shows you ways to make your story stronger or rid your work of cliches. Listen and learn.
  • Professionals will respect your personal style. Over-critiquing every detail of your story is a sign of an amateur. (You can tell when they start rewording things that aren't grammatically wrong or cliched - they just feel they can do it better.) Learn to recognize an amateur editor if you get one. You can still learn from them, but you do not have to take their every suggestion.
  • If a review is positive but has some open suggestions for improvement, be certain to evaluate those points and carefully consider them. The reader is being helpful, not hurtful. (I love my fans. Knowing they love my work helps me easily take their suggestions and apply them.)

Say you received your first one-star review. Why? 
  • Almost always, you will find it is because the reader bought the book with pre-conceived expectations that don't actually match up with your book's synopsis. It is not your fault that someone bought a book without reading the description.
  • Other times, someone just left a one-star review because it is in their power to do so. It gives them a feeling of power. And it's wrong.
  • Some readers critique every tiny detail of your book. They nitpick and criticize everything. I know. And, guess what? It's immature and a sign of an amateur. It's classified as being a hater. Why? Because they haven't ever written/published a book, yet consider themselves experts in nitpicking other people's work. Do not take it personal. Most of these people do it to everyone, not just you. 
  • If your reader criticizes every detail of your story and still misses the whole heart of the book, they are a hater. If they criticize your character and use hateful language towards you personally, they are a hater. Let it go and don't listen. This is internet bullying and should be discarded. And, yes, I've experienced it. Quickly let it go, seek comfort from someone who believes in you, and refuse to dwell on it anymore. Period.
I hope this is helpful to you! Never stop writing and learning.

 And, remember, for every one hater, there are probably dozens of people who loved your work and were blessed by it. It's worth it!

Question? Comments? Please share!

Alicia A. Willis is a home-school graduate, published author, and avid historian. She is a firm believer in the principle that one can accomplish anything by substantial amounts of prayer and coffee. Visit her at her blog or Facebook to view her historical-fiction novels and all the goings-on between writing!


  1. Good post, Alicia! :) I can definitely see what you're saying. Good advice!


  2. These are definitely helpful and encouraging facts to keep in mind. It's important to not get intimidated so that you want to stop, yet it's equally important to improve. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks! I agree. I know I always want to improve...yet not listen to haters. It seems to be a delicate balance. :)


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