|Opening my author copies of Out with the In Crowd.|
I learned quickly - even before my book hit shelves - that being published only meant the negative feedback could come to me in a more public forum. Like on Amazon. Or on blogs. Or publications that specialize in book reviews.
Here are 4 tips I have on creating a healthy attitude when it comes to dealing with rejection and criticism.
1. Establish a Target Audience
I haven't received any scathing reviews, but I'm honest enough with myself to know that's only because the books haven't yet found their way into those particular hands. They will. Or if the Skylar books don't, the next ones will. Books are very polarizing - what one loves, another hates. I'm guessing you know people who have read the Twilight saga a dozen times. And that you know people who thought it was the dumbest thing they'd ever read.
You can't please everyone, and that's one of the reasons why it's important to have a target audience in mind. My books target teen girls. If a forty year old man doesn't like Me, Just Different, it's pretty easy for me to blow that off. I didn't write the book with him in mind.
Lots of writers, especially when they first start thinking about the concept of a target audience, want to make their target as vague as possible. Men and women, young and old, in all walks of life. That sort of thing.
Well, it just doesn't work like that. Sometimes books appeal to both genders, to a variety of age groups, but thinking about your target audience isn't just necessary for a book proposal, it's helpful for you.
2. Find a Critique Group or Partner
Getting into a healthy, supportive critique group can also build your confidence as a writer. By "healthy," I mean a group that meets regularly (either in person or on-line), who encourages each other, where there is a give and take between all members, and where criticism comes in a constructive manner.
Or some find a critique partner rather than a group works better for them. Whether it's one fellow writer or five, being in a community with other writers has serious benefits. One of which is it gets you used to other people reading and critiquing your work. And if you're in a group, this discussion often takes place in a semi-public way, whether it's around a table at a local coffee house or in an email to the entire group.
Which is great preparation for handling negative feedback from agents and editors. And that negative feedback is good practice for dealing with future less-than-glowing reviews on Amazon.
3. Know who your supporters are and let them love on you.
When particularly harsh criticism comes my way, I rely heavily on my husband and my parents to buoy my spirits. These are people who love me because of (and sometimes in spite of) who I am. My father told me many times over the years that the only way I could disappoint him with my writing was to give it up.
Now, when my parents tell me that my story is "absolutely wonderful" and my "best yet," I know they're my parents, that they're biased. But having their support still, somehow, enables me to stand taller in the face or criticism or outright rejection. (Same with my husband, he just tends to be less flowery with his praise.)
4. Remembering the One who truly matters.
I know there are people of a variety of faiths hanging out around here, so if you don't believe in a God who's involved in our lives at an intimate level, feel free to skim or skip this section.
As great as the above things are that I've listed - knowing your target audience, having a healthy critique group or partner, having support from loved ones - what I rely on more than any of that is the knowledge that I am doing what God asked. I am performing for an audience of One. Maybe Mrs. Bloggy Bloggerson didn't approve of some of the issues I covered in Me, Just Different, but I have no intention of organizing my life around her approval.
Rejection and criticism still sting, but when you lay the pain down in front of God's feet, when you are obeying His call to the best of your abilities, the sting is much easier to bear.
Okay, sermon over.
What about you? What are the things that help restore your confidence as a writer? It can be something on the list above or a suggestion of your own.
And if you're looking for a community of writers to hang out with, consider joining the Go Teen Writers Facebook group where young writers are talking about how they name their characters, appropriate chapter lengths, and all kinds of writery things.