A Hazing Ritual: The Bad Review

This post, from author Allison Winn Scotch, originally appeared on Writer Unboxed on 9/10/09.

There comes a time in every author’s life when he or she will receive the inevitable: the terrible, horrible, so-bad review that you want to jump inside of your computer and rip it off the web so no one who ever knows you, much less anyone who has never met you, will read you and judge you by it.

Welcome to the life of a public figure. It’s almost a hazing ritual, it’s so common.

I remember receiving my first truly terrible, TERRIBLE review, even almost three years later. My debut book was coming out that week, I was admittedly a bundle of frayed nerves, upset intestines and barely-coherent brain waves. But – until that point – all of my reviews had been positive, and frankly, let’s be honest, I thought my book was pretty damn good. So there I was, on a lazy Sunday morning, surfing the web, when my google alert came on. “Ooh, I’m in the Washington Post!,” I thought. I scrambled to check it out.


Blood rushed to my cheeks, time stood still, I probably screamed.

Not only did this reviewer not like my book, she EVISCERATED it. Just gutted it inside and out. It was so bad that my agent called me to see if I knew said reviewer and had personally wronged her at some point in our lives. (I’m serious. And I didn’t and I hadn’t.) Once my pulse returned to semi-normal, I tried to put it out of my mind. I deleted my google alert email, vowed never to pull up the review in my browser again, and may or may not have also wished a few terrible things on the reviewer, all the while contemplating a voodoo doll or something similar.

Read the rest of the post on Writer Unboxed.

Allison Winn Scotch is the author of The Department of Lost and Found: A Novel and Time of My Life.

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