Thursday, June 3, 2010

Some thoughts on criticism and bad book reviews

My good friend/author/photographer/digital darkroom expert Rob Sheppard recently sent me this note. I thought it was well worth sharing.

Explore the light,
P.S. This picture has nothing to do with this post, except that it was in one of my books, Flying Flowers.

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Hi Rick --

I am a big fan of Seth Godin and have been reading his book, Tribes (which you actually know all about). Anyway, I read his section on criticism and thought about of our experiences with reviews on He says this:

(Talking about criticism and bad reviews of his books) "One bad review doesn't ruin my day because I realize what a badge of honor it is to get a bit of criticism at all. [By and large, most books are ignored.] It means that I confounded expectations -- that I didn't deliver the sequel or the simple, practical guide that some expected. It means, in fact, that I did something worth remarking on."

That is an interesting idea and a different attitude. He ends this section with a very unexpected idea:

"How can I create something that critics will criticize?"



Joshua James Photography said...

Any book with any kind of sales volume has scathing, 1-star reviews. These people are not interested in a helpful review, just want to badmouth you. Don't worry about it, and more importantly, don't give these cowards the time of day by responding.

Ken Toney said...

I have noticed the same thing in movie reviews. There will be bad reviews before the movie even comes out!

Like they say in Hollywood, it's not what they say about you as long as the are talking about you.

Some people have thier opinion and the other thing that everyone has and thats what they are too.

Libby said...

As they say, all press is good press ;-) Same as with product reviews, I consider my need for the product or book under scrutiny.

When bad reviews are placed against an author with a proven track record, I tend to take them with a grain of salt. Same with movies. If I really like the actr(s) involved, I'm going to go see it.