Are you Thick or Thin-skinned?

The other day I downloaded an e-book – it was terrible. Let me clarify, the poor formatting made the content indecipherable.   The pagination was ruinous and none of the hyperlinks worked.  I was baffled by the lack of attention to these details.  A hard copy existed where the formatting was what I would expect.

I ended up writing a review that pointed out the fact that I couldn’t read the content due to the poorly formatted file. I wasn’t mean, just factual. The author messaged me to let me know they’d be taking the e-book down to address the formatting problems I’d mentioned. I’m definitely willing to take a look at the ebook once the formatting issues have been resolved.  I appreciated she responded to my review in such a polite manner.

A review is a powerful thing. I’ve received several generous reviews on my published short stories and am grateful for the thoughts they shared. A review is an opinion.  An author needs to develop the hide of a rhino when it comes to reviews and opinions about our work. Being thin-skinned will only make an author look immature and unprofessional. Big Al’s Books and Pals, an indie book review site, posted the following about negative reviews:

If you’re an author planning to submit your book for review and can’t live with the consequences based on what I’ve said in this post and the submission guidelines, possibly you should reconsider.

Before anyone thinks I place myself and my writing on a pedestal, I don’t.  My rough drafts are things of nightmares.  I am blessed with a great critique group that calls me on my brain fart moments.  I’ve sent my stories and manuscripts out into the world and been rejected.  Each of these moments of rejection and/or negative feedback are really opportunities to become a better writer.

If you want to be a writer but are not prepared to accept that some people will not appreciate your work, then I daresay you do not really want to be a writer. Or at least you don’t want to be a writer who has readers. It’s part of the job, and it can even be used as inspiration: to do better next time.

Remember, next time you are writing or reading a review – be honest, fair, and constructive.  You know, the golden rule.

Upcoming events:

February 6th at 12:30pm – Twitter Chat with Cherise Fisher. Follow @jamesrvrwriters, @scribeswindow and search for #jrwc13 to chat about her extensive experiences in editing for several of the large publishing houses in NYC.

February 20th Blog interview with K.L. Schwengel, author of FIRST OF HER KIND: Book One of the Darkness and Light Series.

February 26th at 12:00pm – Twitter Chat with Lena Roy, author of the YA novel EDGES. Follow @jamesrvrwriters, @lenaroy and search for #jrwc13 to talk about her experiences in writing and publishing.

March 26th at 12:00pm – Twitter Chat with Lana Krumwiede, author of FREAKLING.  Follow @jamesrvrwriters, @lanakrumwiede, and search for #jrwc13 to chat about her writing and her publishing experiences.



  • My anthology just earned its first major review–in the Los Angeles Review–and I was nervous beforehand but it turned out great. Someone in the industry suggested that it’d be nice to write reviewers thank you notes whether or not it’s a good review, politely responding to the fact that the reviewer took the time to read the book. I thought that was a great idea and will remember it for the future.

    Sounds like your e-book author was glad to know there were issues. And this is also a good reminder to check formatting and/or get professional help with e-books. I’m just starting to learn about that process.

    • Congratulations on the LA Times review. How cool is that?

      How we give and receive feedback is truly a reflection on ourselves.

      • So true, Leila!

  • Great reminders, Leila. And I just told someone this yesterday when they asked what I would tell someone looking to be a writer.

    One thing I tell my students (stockdog training) is if we never receive any negative criticism, that must mean we have nothing to fix. If we have nothing to fix, we have nothing to learn and thus, can’t grow. Of course, I’m referring to constructive negative criticism — not some that I’ve seen.

    • So true, I need to be learning every day.

  • Good thoughts o reviews and very reasonable. One only has to look at some of the best-selling books out there to see that all of them get negative reviews. Some are constructive criticism and some are simply subjective. It’s important to distinguish between the two so you can continue to improve your writing.

    • Thank Kellie! The ability to receive and process feedback (good or not so good) is what keeps us from being literary dodos. 🙂

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