I don’t really read negative reviews of my book, but some of the criticism does manage to come my way. Most of it centers on the main character’s lack of morals. A few also call her kind of privileged and entitled. Which is no surprise. These have been the predominant criticisms of the book since the beginning. And they’re totally valid. The fact that there’s so much agreement on these points, even among people who like the book, mean that there’s something there. I wouldn’t change it, even if I could, but that’s real.
Which has made me think more on the broader point of negative reviews. With most books, I find, you know exactly what the negative criticism is. For instance, I haven’t looked up negative reviews of Eat, Pray, Love, but I know that they’re all gonna be about how the main character’s journey comes off as whiny and self-indulgent.
It’s not that these flaws kill a book. It’s just that if someone is going to dislike a book, these are the reasons they’ll dislike it.
Which in the end takes some of the sting out of criticism. Because it doesn’t matter, ultimately, whether there are flaws in your book. All books are flawed. And all books have detractors.
Conversely, all books–at least all published books–have their fans. I’ve read books that I thought were so terrible, but when I went online, somebody was gushing about them. A book can’t get published unless a bunch of people passionately believe in it.
Seen that way, the whole business of reviews becomes a bit murky. You know that responses are going to run the gamut. And, sure, you could see whether more of them fall on one end or more fall on the other end, but ultimately what does it matter? All you can hope is that the people who are going to like your book are able, somehow, to find it.