You’ve passed the first hurdle, getting your work published, and now it’s out there in the wild, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other purveyors of fine literature. You’ve made it. Rejection is a thing of the past, a bad dream from which you have now awoken. Right?
The truth is the ante has been upped, and the stakes have been raised. Your work is now available to the—Gasp!—public. Unlike an editor who maintains some level of civility and professionalism when rejecting you, the book-reading world at large is under no such constraints. They can and will tell you exactly what they think in the most direct and even brutal fashion. An editor who doesn’t like your work will send you a vague form rejection filled with soft, professional niceties. A guy on the internet who doesn’t like your work will say you straight-up suck and the world should avoid your craptacular writing at all costs. And you know what? Good for him. The public deserves their brutality. They’re not getting sent free review copies, they’re plunking down their hard-earned cash, and this affords them the loudest voice of all critics, the voice of the consumer. I think brutal reviews keep writers humble—they’ve certainly humbled the fuck out of me on occasion.
Okay, lets lay down some rules how to handle bad reviews.