This week ‘s blog comes from Crime Cymru joint chairperson Louise Mumford, who gives sage advice to any aspiring (and experienced) writer..….
The three Rs. Reviews, rejection, resilience
You wrote something. It is out there in the world, maybe in a magazine, or online, or as a published book. It is being read by people you have never met and you have, in a way, lost control of it. It is no longer a story in your head. It now belongs to all of those readers and each of those people will bring their own emotions, their own prejudices and bugbears to it.
Some will like your work.
Some will not.
You are going to have to get your head around the fact that you WILL get bad reviews, there is nothing you can do about them (unless they spoil the plot), and you cannot let them ruin your day. Time is precious. Do you really want to waste chunks of it seething against a person you do not know, who is just one opinion amongst many? I don’t. I’d rather be writing.
A piece of advice I got which really resonated for me came from fellow thriller author Philippa East. She made the point that we have to choose the opinions we value. So I value what my agent thinks of my work, and my editor and what my trusted first readers think, along with some of the fantastic blogging community. With their help I created the best book I could.
Of course I read reviews. Bad ones, good ones, indifferent ones. Sometimes it is useful to see if people pick on a similar thing, and if I can understand where they are coming from – that’s something I can work on. That’s useful. But I have a secret weapon… my husband. He actually reads the reviews for me, scrolling through Amazon or NetGalley (this is a site where publishers allow bloggers to access free digital copies of books with the hope they will leave a review) and summarising the highs and lows for me, taking away the nastiness (because some reviewers can, let’s face it, be really mean). It works a treat.
So this brings me on to rejection. You would think, having a book published, means that an author doesn’t have to worry about rejection ever again. Wrong. A publisher might not pick up the second book, or the author might not be picked to appear at a festival, or they may be told that their books won’t be stocked in Waterstones, or their agent may change careers and they can’t find another one… Whatever it is – rejection is part of an author’s life. Each bad review is mini-rejection of sorts.
This is where resilience comes in. I can guarantee you that all the authors out there with a long back catalogue of work, what they all have in common is resilience. It’s not they don’t feel the rejection deeply, they probably do, but they give themselves a set time to wallow and then – and this is the key bit – they give themselves a shake and they continue. Because giving up due to rejection only hurts yourself. If you want it, you’ve got to keep chipping away. Keep writing. Keep finishing things. Keep submitting them. Learn all you can. Apply that learning. This is a marathon, people, not a sprint.
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One thought on “The three Rs. Reviews, rejection, resilience – Louise Mumford”
Good advice Louise. Some will, some won’t, Move on. I used to apply that to business but it works for everything. Publishing a book is like getting in a boxing ring, there will be punches as well as plaudits. Treat them. Both the same and don’t let them deflect you from. The work. See you in Aberystwyth. 😍