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I’ve blogged before about my advice to less experienced writers. I tend to let other people give writing advice, mostly because it’s all been said before. But every once in a while I come across a piece of advice that I don’t think has been covered… like this one:

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You are going to get a lot of unasked for advice. Writing a book is a lot like parenting in that respect. And when your first book hits the shelves and you start to get a few reviews, you aren’t going to be able to stop yourself from reading them.

And the criticism? It gets under your skin in the weirdest ways. You’ll start second guessing everything you write after reading a complete stranger’s opinion on your book. You’ll have had editors who believed in your book, possibly an agent who believed in it, a publishing house who was willing to financially back that book, all sorts of readers who thoroughly enjoyed that book… and one stranger who says something critical about your execution.

I’m not saying there is nothing to learn from reviews. If you hear the same thing often enough, it might be worth looking at… but even so, there are hugely successful authors who I don’t personally like to read. One author, who I won’t name, just seems to ramble for 600 pages and then end. There is no climax to the story, no real point to it. It drives me crazy, but there are obviously a million readers or more who disagree with me. Should she get bent out of shape because of my opinion? Obviously not!

And you shouldn’t question yourself because of someone else’s opinion, either. There are plenty of reasons you might get a mediocre or downright bad review:

  • they don’t like your type of fiction
  • they were tired
  • they just couldn’t connect with your story, for some reason or other
  • they were expecting something different and felt disappointed instead of pleasantly surprised

Just like you can’t be everyone’s best friend, you can’t be everyone’s favourite author. You’re writing for your audience, not for the whole world. And that said, reviewers are incredibly important in the writing community! They need to do their job without author meddling.

So how do you decide if you should take criticism to heart? By asking yourself: Would I go to this person for career advice? Would I seek them out? 

If the answer is no, then move on and do your best to put it out of your mind. Because you don’t need any more blocks in your brain as you work on your next manuscript. You might not be everyone’s favourite author, but you will be someone’s!

And as you gain more experience, you’ll probably read fewer of those reviews. Just a hunch. 😉  And that is MY unrequested advice. Take it for what it’s worth.



On the shelves now!



For the Amish, the day after Christmas is for family, feasting, and exchanging simple gifts. And for three different couples, it will bring another precious chance for love . . .
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Shelley Shepard Gray
Amish nanny Hannah Eicher never thought she’d ever see Rob Prince again. There was no way a relationship between her and the handsome English fireman could overcome her family’s objections—and their personal differences. But when he saves her from a sudden blaze, Hannah longs to see if they can turn holiday hope into a lifetime of happiness . . .
HIS AMISH ANGEL * Patricia Johns
She’s too outspoken to be a proper Amish wife. So as advice columnist “Miss Amish,” Maggie Lapp helps Amish and English with their romantic problems. But when her tradition-minded former fiancé accidentally reveals her secret, Maggie will need more than a miracle to make things right—and find a perfect love for all the Christmases to come . . .
Rachel Miller won’t let her disability keep her from selling heirloom plants and proving she can be independent. She certainly doesn’t need reckless Joseph Webber working at her greenhouse to pay off a disastrous Rumspringa stunt. But she and Joseph have more in common than they think—and their surprising holiday partnership might just blossom into forever joy . . .