One of the toughest things about writing a book and putting it out into the world is being totally defenseless to the reviews that come your way. I know, I know, should I really complain? I've been blessed with this great review coverage and so much good fortune with Time of My Life, but I'm telling ya, sometimes, it's TOUGH to put a book out there. You read these reviews (all authors read them, let's be honest), and even though you know that they're not direct reviews of YOU, personally, sometimes, it can be tough to make that distinction.
I got a very lovely review in a prominent newspaper this weekend. Let me be clear that it was lovely, and I am very appreciative of it. But the reviewer pointed out a very small mistake in the book (she is only the second person to notice it - at least notice it directly to me...and when the first person alerted me to it, I immediately asked my editor to amend it in the reprints), and as a result of this mistake, this reviewer called me "careless."
Weeeeellllll, that did not sit so well with me. NOT because her criticism wasn't valid: look, it was a teeny, tiny mistake but it was a mistake never the less, and I'll own up to that (even though, to be honest, I didn't even realize I had the incorrect information until this first person pointed it out to me, and it was so small that the copious copy editors and various other editors never noticed it either). But careless? Me? Really? Anyone who knows me knows that I am the opposite of careless (at least when it comes to my work): I am so freakin' anal that I'm sure I drive the folks I work with nuts.
But. Here's the thing. I can't defend myself. I can't write this reviewer a letter and say, "Hey, I'm sorry about that. It wasn't carelessness, it was something I truly wasn't aware of. Oh, and by the way, if you're going to critique me for a mistake, can you get the details of the book right in your review too? Shouldn't we be held to the same standard?" Nope, no can do. So I will be called careless in a huge review, and you know what? As a writer who put herself out in the public domain, I have to be okay with that. As my husband said to me when I was stewing over the comment yesterday morning, "Make your skin thicker."
And he's right. There's no other option. I've said this countless times on this blog, but I thought this example made it worth repeating. This is never, ever an easy job - even after you've landed the book deal and seen your name in figurative lights and gotten emails from people who will read any last thing you write, even if it's a poem on a piece of toilet paper. You put yourself out there, and you have to, HAVE TO, know that in doing so, you are eventually going to be called things that you wish you weren't. Such is life as a published writer. I have no beef with this reviewer. In fact, I'm appreciative of the lovely review she gave ToML, right up until her "careless" comment. (Though, of course, I wish she hadn't said it!) Really, this was just a reminder that this job is not for those with a weak stomach...the criticism never ends. Never. And that's okay. You just have to know this from the get-go...and thus, that's why I'm passing it on to you. Let my spilled blood at least count for something. :)
Anyone else out there gotten a review that really stung? Or a rejection? How do you steel yourself against them?