A few months back I was interviewed on another blog, and one of the questions was, "How do you react to negative reviews?" At the time I hadn't actually received any negative reviews yet, since my book had only just gone on sale. I hardly had any reviews then at all. Still, I answered the question based on how I imagined I might react. I said that I'd try to learn from it, and that any honest review would provide good insights. Well, it's time to take my own advice!
Actually, the vast majority of my reviews are still very positive, but I've received three one-star reviews on Amazon UK so far. Today I got a scorcher! "Weak characters, insipid storyline, no chemistry, grammatical errors... what a waste of time and money!" Of course the book only cost .49 pence, but still, I get it. She didn't like it, or perhaps more to the point, she actively disliked it.
I understand that not everyone is not going to like every book, and I shouldn't take it personally, but it leaves me pondering some larger questions. How many people, in their careers, have their performance actively critiqued in public by total strangers? What if there was a review site for every teacher, or police officer, or electrical engineer? I'm guessing they probably wouldn't like it very much, though with the Internet, the world is becoming more like that every day. Reviews are readily available for almost every business, big or small, and I've chosen to pursue a profession where criticism of my work is part of the bargain. Reviews are a very useful tool in letting people know which books might appeal to them and which might not. Nobody wants to buy a book that they probably won't like. Of course, that's also why the sample feature on Amazon and other sites is so useful, but perhaps that's another discussion.
I suppose the bottom line is that if I intend to continue pursuing fiction writing as a career, I'd better get used to my work being critiqued, for better or for worse. Some people will like my work and some people won't, but as long as I continue writing, readers will be sure to let me and everybody else know!