I just self-published my first novel called, A Man Called Cow. Its a western and tells about a city slicker that moves out west around 1800 and runs into some sheep herders who throw him into a pen with a big ol ram. Well he survives that encounter and the herders decide to make him one of their onw by draggin him thru some cactuses until he screams unkle. Just when he thinks all is lost, a bull from another cow hurd gores the guy draggin the poor city sliker, so the rest of the herders give him the name cow.
Now here’s the thing, Meggie, I been putting this here novel out in a bunch of web sites and been getting some really bad ratings, like 1 and 2 stars. Some of them said some really rotten things and even had the nerve to say I shoulda got an editor to go over it, but I know I don’t need one, not really. Now some people have given me 4 and 5 star but not many and those were on fanstory. Except my family and close friends that said what a terrific book it is.
So here’s my question, what can I do about those bad ratings. Those morons were just jealous and wanted to slam me so I couldn’t sell many books. I know my book is better than that specially since I got those high ratings but I don’t want people knocking it and mebbie affecting the sales pretty bad, you know?
The Great American Novelist
Dear Novelist (Great American Novelist is definitely a misnomer),
First of all, did you say this novel of yours is supposed to be a comedy? It sounds like it. Second, based on the writing sample of your letter, you “shoulda got an editor” before attempting to put your novel out. Poor grammar, spelling, punctuation, and syntax, all of which you display, will have an adverse effect on your ratings, and rightly so. Frankly, I’m surprised you did receive 4- and 5-star ratings, although I’m not surprised that they were on Fanstory, where it’s pretty obvious many of the so-called “reviewers” either don’t bother to read the proffered works or don’t know a dang thing about reviewing. Unfortunately, that site is set up to reward sloth in the reviewing processs, for the most part.
You need to put aside your ego – if you can find a place large enough to contain it – and take a good, hard look at the critiques you received. I know for a fact that some of the Fanstory reviewers are quite good. If any of them provided you with a list of the problems with your work, pay attention! Many independent reviewers who take the trouble to give you extensive feedback can’t all be wrong, you know, even if you don’t want to believe it. Constructive feedback should be accepted in the spirit in which it was given, namely to help you see and correct the problems with your novel.
If you are just looking for pats on the back and people to say what a wonderful writer you are, then you’re in the wrong business. When you put your creative writing out for all to view and comment on, some people will always have negative remarks to make about it. That happens to even the best writers, which you obviously are not. Unfortunately – or fortunately in your case – there’s really nothing you can do about them except pay attention to just how many are giving you negative feedback. Then you have a choice: either follow their advice and hire a really good copyeditor to redo your novel, or ignore them at your own peril.
If I were you, based on what you have told me about your story and your beliefs about your writing, I’d take the third option, which is to explore a different career choice. Not everyone that puts fingers to keys is cut out to be a writer, you know. Or maybe you don’t know. And if you can’t swallow your pride and follow kindly advice, which mine isn’t (kindly, that is), then don’t muck around in field that’s already oversaturated with poor “writers.”