everybody gets them. I try to make them a learning experience, or at least I try to laugh at the worst of them.
Constructive criticism doesn’t hurt; it’s the stuff that writers need if they are really serious about their work. A lot of criticism out there is in no way constructive, and that sometimes does hurt, if I’m in the wrong mood or make the mistake of taking it too seriously. Amazon.com has caused a lot of writers some really bad moments, because of course the reader reviews are all anonymous and anonymity brings out the worst in some people.
Into the Wilderness has 192 reviews on Amazon, and ten of them are one star reviews. A few of those don’t like the novel because I’m not Diana Gabaldon. A few more don’t like it because Into the Wilderness isn’t a proper sequel to Last of the Mohicans (of course, I never said it was; it’s more of a retelling of Cooper’s The Pioneers; a [careless] critic called it a sequel, and I’ve never heard the end of it). Others have managed to find some bodice ripping somewhere in it (maybe some edition I never approved, what do I know?) and object on that basis. Some find fault with my historical research. Here’s the funniest one:
I was hoping Elizabeth would end up being a black bear’s main entree, but no luck. Of course, with her amazing luck, she’d have brained him with one of her “boots” and eaten him for dinner.Oh, I forgot. Elizabeth is so ahead of her time, she’s no doubt a vegan. [from Amazon]
There are, of course, many wonderful reader reviews on Amazon, very complimentary and encouraging. The point is that not every book is right for every reader. I’m not a huge fan of Hemingway but that’s my fault, for the most part. I wouldn’t put the blame on him. And what a boring place the world would be if we all liked exactly the same things.
Of course, editorial reviews are a different (and very complicated) matter altogether. More on that some other time.