In a recent post, I talked about the cost of a scathing review I received from an anonymous reviewer. I did not mention that this was a review I solicited as in paid for. The cost I spoke about wasn’t the money, it was the denunciation, the rebukes…the heat in my cheeks caused by reading words that scald. Now, I realize the value of that critic.
When we write, speak, take a position of leadership in any group, or take any type of risk, we’ll be criticized. We know this. And we do it anyway. We do it because we believe we have something to offer others.
But the reality is that criticism hurts. I had forgotten just how much.
But what’s intriguing to me was what happened after the third time I read the reviewer’s critique- or maybe it was the fourth. It took that long for the reviewer’s words to stop burning.
I realized that he or she was mostly right.
Due to a number of factors irrelevant for this post, my first published novel was rife with typos and editing flaws. But I moved on to the second and the third books in what has become a series based on this first book, because as one friend recently worded it, ‘I just cannot wait to see what these characters will do next.” For these new books, I have assured that the proofing and editing errors will not recur due to a completely new publishing system.
And I had planned to continue moving forward without correcting the glaring flaws pointed out by the review.
Once I had the capacity to read the review with an open mind, only then was I able to think. Think thoughts like, “Wait a minute, the reporter’s (one of my characters) writing was good, not ‘outlandish’ at all as claimed here.” Once I took the time to compare certain sections of my original manuscript with the edited published book, I realized that important sections had been deleted by the team of editors working hard to reduce the word count. Sections which, when read by a discerning reader, left holes in the coherence of the major pillars of my plot.
For the last several months, I had planned to do a second edition of the first book but because of a valuable albeit painful review, the editing and proofing flaws will be corrected as well. Another important lesson: some critics deserve to be listened to.