The art of staying calm

Is it just me or do many writers seem a little uptight to you? Ninety-nine per cent of them come across as decent and pretty level-headed, but occasionally you run into one you’d be worried to share an elevator with, and I think this is down to the internet.

You see, the wonderful thing about the ‘net is that it allows writers to get much closer to their readers.

But there is a downside: It allows writers to get much closer to their readers.

In the bad old days, authors toiled for years without ever coming into contact with their fanbase. Now they can talk to them, directly, almost hourly if they want to. For most, this level of engagement is a good thing. But for a tiny few, it has given them the opportunity to respond, directly, to a bad review.  Years ago, if someone didn’t like your book and said so, then you’d just have to live with it. Hopefully, you’d take the criticism onboard, but aside from that there was little else you could do.

With readers leaving comments on Amazon, the slighted author now has the opportunity to really stick it to the uneducated pleb who dared insult his handiwork. And he can be really clever and witty while he’s doing it too because that’s bound to bring in more fans.

But you  see far worse from the writers I like to call ‘the unjustly unpublished’: a thankfully small group who seem to think that agents everywhere are conspiring to keep the public from discovering their literary genius.

Agents are human so, yes, they occasionally get it wrong, but seriously, if you’re sitting on a stack of rejections high enough to present a risk to air traffic then it’s time to a long, critical look at your novel – again. And remember, just because they’ve rejected this one, it doesn’t mean your next piece won’t be successful, unless, of course, you’ve spent the year in between rubbishing agencies online, in which case they’re not going to take you on, no matter how brilliant you are.

So before replying to any piece of criticism, whether it’s online or in a newspaper, just take a breath. Take several. Walk away from the keyboard, make a cup of tea, smoke, have a drink, look at this picture:

Do not return to your desk until you’re calm and at least halfway rational. Now, if you still feel hard done by, have at ’em.

Or, alternatively, you could thank them for taking the time to comment and then really show them by making your next piece even better.

0 thoughts on “The art of staying calm”

  1. Nice photo!

    I have stopped reading the face-punches masquerading as “reviews” on amazon and goodreads for my latest book. People who have no idea how to express a rational thought now have a public and permanent place to pee on people with the talent and drive to actually get their books published. And no author in her right mind EVER responds to these morons. You just whine to your writer friends and hope readers find you anyway…

    Calm. I’m calm. Really.

    1. Quite right, I should probably have pointed out that in some cases authors are probably right to feel a little put out (I love the reviews that complain about the price of the book – as if someone hid it from them before they bit the ‘buy button), but since there’s not a lot they can do about it, the best thing is just forget and move on. Don’t risk alienating future readers by getting into a mudfight.

      And I do think that a lot of comment on Amazon are really insightful – sometimes you need to work quite hard to find them … :-/

      Lake Moraine, after a rainfall, but I’m sure you already knew that … 🙂

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