How to Receive Criticism as an Indie Author

One of the things that being in a critique group has taught me has been how to receive criticism. I now have five big rules about criticism that have served me well over the first few months of my career as an indie author.

1. Don’t seek out criticism unless you are using it for promotion. The nice thing about critique groups is that they alert you to possible flaws before it goes into publication. After publication, there’s little you can do. I have a day job as another type of writer online. Occasionally people complain about something I’ve posted, but what am I going to do? Take the post down? I have to read comments for my day job, but as far as writing novels go, I see no reason to seek them out after the fact.

2. Filter it if you can. I don’t read my reviews, but my husband does and every week he lets me know if he thinks there’s anything of value in the ones I’ve received. It’s great to have review news delivered in such a way that really puts it in perspective. When someone says “you got this number of good reviews and this number of bad reviews,” and stresses the good stuff over the bad stuff, somehow it’s easier to see and appreciate that you’re getting more good reviews than bad. However, if you read them yourself — not so much.

3. Remember that when people give you a bad review, they’re not insulting you as a person, but what you’ve written. It took me years of being in a critique group to fully get this. If you’re in a critique group focus less on the criticism itself and more on its usefulness toward improving your writing.

4. Realize that reviews are meant for the consumer, not for you. This is why I decided not to read reviews even before I submitted OWNER for publication. Looking through other author’s reviews in order to determine which books I should download next, I saw that they usually weren’t useful on a writing level. My fellow critique group writers are trying to help me become a better writer, but most reviewers are trying to help other readers decide if they should buy the book. Really writers have no business using their reviews as feedback, unless their bad reviews way outnumber their good reviews. Then it’s worth taking a look at all the bad reviews to see if there’s a common theme that might help you improve with the next novel. For example if everyone’s complaining that you need an editor, and you actually hired an editor for your book, then it’s time to switch editors.

5. Realize that anyone who buys your book has the right to say they don’t like it. It’s their fundamental right. Period. If you don’t want people to have this right because it hurts your feelings when you’re reading the reviews you don’t really need to be reading anyway, then you should just keep your novel under your bed and never let it see the light of other readers.

None of this isn’t to say that I don’t want you to leave reviews for THE OWNER OF HIS HEART. Though I don’t read them myself, they’re the best form of promotion on Amazon and I really appreciate receiving them.

Happy Reading and Reviewing and Taking Criticism Well,