There have been a lot of articles online lately regarding author Kathleen Hale’s over-the-top response to a bad review. After reading the original post and various other responses, I must admit, I feel overwhelmed by it. She went waaaaaay too far. The reviewer went waaaaaaay too far. It’s all a mess. But I understand the feelings behind it, more than you can imagine.
I don’t yet have a book published, but I hope to one day. And with that will come reviews, I know that. The temptation to defend every notion of a bad review must be overwhelming, but the general warning authors hear all the time is: don’t engage. For your own sanity, don’t engage.
It sounds so simple. Read it. Forget it. Walk away. Shake it off. Like the words could ever be erased from your memory. But when faced with what feels like a personal attack, walking away is easier said than done. I get that now.
Know the Facts.
Recently, during a Municipal election, I found out that a candidate who was running for a seat on the Town Council started his campaign because of a program he didn’t like at the library. A program I ran. Now, it doesn’t sound too bad on the surface….someone decides they want to make changes in a small town, to offer better services to their community, to support better initiatives. That makes a lot of sense, and it’s what most people are probably trying to do when they run for office. But not this guy. This guy—who I didn’t recognize as a regular library user, nor his children or wife—took offense to a program he saw posted on our library Facebook page that he felt “supported bad writing and poor acting”. Yes, people….he was talking about “SHARKNADO 2”.
Sharks, sharks! Everywhere, sharks!
During the summer, our children’s programming is all about getting kids & teens into the library. If we can find a hook that will bring them in, we use it. This one, which we called “Craftnado”, was aimed at teens. The sequel to the cult TV hit SHARKNADO was airing during July, so we thought it would be fun to plan an afternoon event based around sharks. We had 3-D paper sharks to make, some crazy shark-tooth jewelry, and we even had a shark-themed “I Spy” for the younger kids to take part in while they were in the building. The highlight, though, was our giant inflatable remote controlled shark that “swam” through the building that week whenever we had a bunch of kids inside. The whole thing was just another one of the fun themes we’d planned for the summer months. Aside from the idea, there was nothing we used during the event that promoted SHARKNADO or the sequel.
We never expected someone to deem the program “garbage”. In fact, not one person complained to us, and everyone seemed to have a great time in the library that week. The flying shark was especially exciting! So, to hear later that someone was offended and thought we were doing a disservice to the children of our community by referencing SHARKNADO 2, was shocking, to say the least.
The lengths this man went to in order to scold us was appalling (no need to go into them here). He hoped to earn a spot on the Town Council to appoint change, but thankfully, he did not get enough votes. However, he left me with a very bad taste in my mouth, and the feeling of wanting to engage his ridiculous points, if only just to argue my side.
Shake it off!
It’s a difficult lesson to be criticized, especially when you know you can’t or shouldn’t respond. And the common sense answer of just letting it go is really the smartest one. Bad publicity isn’t better than no publicity at all–that’s exaggerated. Don’t lose your self-respect, or the respect of others who really do matter by entering into a no-win situation. Just walk away, swim away, float away. Feel the response, but don’t live the response. It wont make anything better.
So, don’t read the reviews, or if you must, only take in the good points, and remember the negatives are given by people that don’t matter in your life.
How do you shake off negative reviews?