Sunday, September 2

So how’s your skin these days?


          Most of the time, I like who I am. I’m happy with my writing, thrilled with the books my writing morphs into, and…oh, my gosh, completely over the edge with good reviews. I’ve been lucky there—there’ve been quite a few good ones.
          And a few that sucked. Reviewers didn’t like my cover, the blurb, the heroine, the ending. The book was too long, too women’s fiction for a romance aficionado, too romantic for a women’s fiction devotee. Some of them—gasp!—flat didn’t like my writing.
          I am not a new kid in publishing. My first book was published in 1999 and I’d been at it a long time before that. I’m not an overnight success by anyone’s definition of the phrase, and that’s really okay with me. Like I said, I like who I am. I’ve written contemporary, historical, and inspirational without worrying about establishing a brand. It’d be fun to make a living at writing, but I’m no longer willing or probably able to work that hard, so I don’t, but…where am I going with this? Good grief, even I’m lost in all this talk about me, me, me…oh, now I remember.
          My skin is no thicker than it was the first time someone hated my first book. Even though I wax philosophical about how not everyone can like everything and one person’s opinion is just one person’s opinion and hey, I’m the same person I was before she raked me over the reviewer coals, I don’t really believe it.
          Because even though I know not everyone can like everything, I still want everyone to like me. Even though one person’s opinion shouldn’t change the direction of my day, it does—if the opinion is that my book stinks, it absolutely ruins my day. And, yeah, I’m the same person, but I must be truly a terrible one if she dislikes me to the point that she hates my book.
          Oh, gag me. But as pathetic as that sounds, that’s the truth of it. I’m not here to offer solutions—don’t I wish?—but to ask for them. If you’ve mastered the art of having a thick skin, how did you do it? I’ll try anything. On the other hand, if you haven’t mastered it, come sit by me—we’ll whine together.

Word Wrangler Liz Flaherty hopes you'll buy ONE MORE SUMMER and give it a great review!

42 comments:

  1. Move over Liz, I'm coming to sit by you! lol I haven't mastered it either. I have days where I'm tougher than others and things won't phase me and I can actually take it in stride...then I have days that a negative comment can totally sink my self esteem and the smile on my face. But we manage to get through it and I think the main reason is because we have so many supportive, wonderful friends in our writer world. Friends that have the same frustrations and they so get it!

    Great post btw....I'll be back to see if anyone offers any suggestions!

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    1. Hi, Christine. Thanks for coming by. I'm hoping we both get help today! :-)

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  2. I'm coming to sit with you. My friend just sent me this link and it's just the thing I needed. Thanks.

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    1. Hi, Mia. I think we're going to have a great party, don't you? It's like Christine said, too--writers are wonderful, supportive friends. What a cool thing that is!

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  3. I'm new at this business and I've heard multiple times how I need to get thicker skin. But your blog is wonderful. Thank you for letting me know I'm not the only one who takes a negative review personally. I try not to. I reason, if someone disliked something enough to sit and write a review, then I evoked emotion. Yeah. Blah, blah... it still hurts to read! Save me a space on your metaphorical bench, I want to join this party and learn if thick skin is truly possible! Well written Liz!

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    1. Thanks for coming, Aleatha. Grab a seat!

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  4. I guess my jr high experience (being the low person in the social pecking order) gave me my thick skin. I've not had any bad reviews (yet), but I have accidentally sparked controversy on the blog and on my FB page and fumed at the angry words directed my way. I just pray for all injured parties and for myself to calm down/help me through this tough time/not get too depressed.

    The last time someone came by my booth and said, "I don't read romance, but my sister does. She buys that trash..." I simply smiled and told her to send her sister over to me. Then I went back to working on the latest wip.

    I wish I could explain my thought processes better,but maybe nine years of put downs by classmates 'toughened' me up??

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    1. Thanks for coming, Molly. Hugs on the controversy--I think I missed that!

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  5. Liz--bottom line! We're a needy bunch. Most of us would rather have kind, glowing words than a big check. Scratch that..probably not. But even if we're not making Nora level money, we do glory in good reviews or a comment from a reader who took the time to find our email address and send a complimentary message.
    I think we'd lose part of ourselves if we became too thick-skinned. We're emotional--that's how we can write--and to lose that would mean losing our voice and our desire.
    So stay as you are--I think you're a better person for it.
    Very interesting reading.

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    1. I think you're right, Celia, and thank you for sharing that. Please come and sit with us anyway--sounds like we could learn from you. :-)

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  6. Oh, Liz, I'm right beside you, baby. I hate how much I depend on others' opinions to form my own and how swayed I can be by what someone else says about my writing. (Please don't let that information keep you from being brutally honest in your appraisal of the book you're beta reading for me!! Truly!) I do believe we need to hear opinions that might not always be glowing...it helps us grow as writers. Best critique I ever had came from a well-known writer who told me my hero was an a**hole. She was right...he seemed to be at first and when I reread what she'd read, I saw it immediately. I'm reworking the story now so that he's obviously hero material...thin skin is okay because it does help us stay emotional and in touch, but not if it keeps us from becoming better writers.

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    1. It's such a fine line and I keep feeling as though I'm falling off it on the wrong side! You're right, though, Nan. And your work is wonderful--I just finished judging my last contest entry so I'm going back to it. Glee!

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  7. Where's my cheese and crackers so I can whine (wine) with you. My skin isn't a tad thicker than it was before I started writing. We work so hard on a story and then have to endure the different perspectives on our finished products. One loves, the next hates. I personally wouldn't make a point to leave a comment or offer a review on something I didn't like. As mommy always told me, if I can't say something nice, don't say anything.

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  8. I can't say that I've mastered thick skin, but years working in the public sector where everything you did was automatically criticized by half of the local population followed by a second career in the legal field has, to a large degree, forced me to develop one. Lord knows its not thick enough, but twenty years of reminding myself every day that "its not personal..." has helped a little.

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    1. LOL, Jim, I retired from the post office, where many the general population not only "paid my salary" but would have "had my job" if they could have. I was called names way more often than I care to remember. Even though I took that personally, too, the truth was I didn't write the rules of the workplace and that was what was most often under fire. When my writing is dissed, it's harder because while my job (which I loved) was something I did, writing is something I AM.

      Thanks for coming by!

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  9. I let negative comments and reviews affect me for about two minutes, then I read all the good ones and snap out of it. I also go to the Amazon or Goodreads pages of books I love and read negative reviews on there. It makes me feel better knowing that everyone gets bad reviews. Plus, most of the time if you really disect a bad review you can find stupidity in it. For example, I got negative comments for having a 28-year old virgin in one of my books because the reviewer found it hard to believe a 28 year old could be a virgin. Um... there are 40 year old virgins. I'm not going to let it get me down because someone didn't give me a 5-star rating over something like that. :) Getting published is a major accomplishment. Heck, writing a book is a major accomplishment. I refuse to let anyone take my pride in these two things away from me. :)

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    1. You are so right. I've done that, too, looked at others' negative reviews. Then I feel bad for them! :-)

      Thanks, Crystal!

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  10. I do have a pretty thick skin, but I don't think you want to through what I did to get one. I was raised in a house where nothing I did was good enough, but everything my brother did was golden. Top that off with Army Basic training and law school, voila, thick skin.

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    1. I had three brothers, growing up in the 50s and 60s. My sister and I always new we weren't as important. I doubt I'd have made it in the military, though I remember wanting to try.

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    2. Excuse me...KNEW we weren't as important. :-) Thanks for coming by, Ella.

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  11. Hi Liz!
    I think the only way to deal with the fact that no matter how long we're in the biz we'll never grow thick skin - is to avoid reviews like the plague!
    Sorry you're smarting. We've chosen a really tough biz to be in, haven't we? Whatever got into us?

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    1. Hi, Lynne. I'd love to avoid reviews, but they suck me right in...good OR bad. :-) It is a tough business, but I love it. I think we all do.

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    1. LOL. Let me make room on the bench for you, D!

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  13. My skin is so thick it's like Rhino hide and I acquired it due to my personal and domestic circumstances, but as for my writing [fledgling] I rely on my real live chums in my two critique groups. It's their opinion that really counts, even when they don't like something they have positive suggestions for fixes and alternative routes. Writing is for ME, and whilst I'd prefer it if people like what I write, it's not the be all and end all.

    As for hope to cope-for you--just imagine yourself in your favorite spot, wherever that happens to be, install a big glass dome over the top of it and enjoy the bliss of your bubble - works every time.

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  14. I haven't had to develop one yet over bad reviews because I haven't gotten one yet. But that's not necessarily a good thing. Lot's of people have said they won't read a book with all positive reviews because they figure the reviewrs are friends of the author. Out of the 5 reviews on Dreamers, I know 2 of the reviewers. One review on Life After (that sucks) and I have no idea who that person is. I've had to develop a thick skin over the fact that I'm npot getting many reviews at all.

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    1. Excuse the typo's. I always hit send too soon.

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    2. That is hard. I know until ONE MORE SUMMER, it seemed as though I never had many, either.

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  15. I used to have very thin skin, Liz, making life incredibly hard and submitting my writing even harder. But over many years, my skin continues to thicken. Guess you can chalk it up to experience.

    You just can't have thin skin in the business we're in if you hope to survive.

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    1. It definitely makes it harder! Thanks, Susan.

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  16. Thanks, Liz, for the reminders and advice. I don't know that there's ever a way to totally prepare yourself for the inevitable 'less-than-glowing' review. We've just got to remember that we can't make everyone happy 100% of the time. Instead, what we can do is do our best, go with our heart, and let what will be, be.

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  17. Hi. Thanks for coming by! I've been enjoying your blog. That's one good thing about writing, isn't it, that we can always lead with the heart. I appreciate that reminder.

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  18. I suck at the thick skin thing, too. I talk a good game, but it kills me when people don't like me, my writing....and anything else.

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    1. I think "talking the good game" is half the battle, don't you? Thanks for weighing in, Kristi!

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  19. I think I earned my thick skin early one. One of my first crit partners was very sharp. She sent my manuscript back with one note "I'm not reading this shit, you can do better."

    OUCH!

    Then my first release, first 'professional' review on my release day, was a scathing "I wasted my money on this crap" with a score of 47 out of 100.

    I was ready to quit right there.

    The book went on to win a few awards so... I learned to each their own and no one knows everything about writing. Styles tastes and opinions vary.

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    1. Wow. Oh, wow. CPs are a whole different thing--when it comes to reading your stuff, you KNOW they've got your best interests at heart (or maybe I've been spoiled by having great CPs), but reviews from unknown quantities just...sting. Good for you, Inez!

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  20. I love getting good reviews and they make my day, but bad reviews don't bother me. When I finish a book, I set it free and detach it from myself, then it has to sink or swim on its own. I somehow don't feel connected to it any more so bad reviews don't feel personal.

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    1. That is such a good idea, but it's an "in theory" thing for me--I don't think I ever really let them go. :-( Thanks for coming by!

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  21. By no stretch of the imagination have I mastered the thick skin requirement for writing (or life). I have managed to put most of it in perspective because, with few exceptions, I realize the critiquer isn't talking about ME. They are speaking to my writing and my writing is not my entire persona, though it is a big part. I consider myself a blunt but polite and diplomatic person. I appreciate the same in return. Unless the reviewer starts talking about the hair style in my picture then I can pretty much put compartmentalize the criticism.

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  22. LOL. I must admit it bothers me when I'm dissed over things beyond my control--I keep wanting to say, "But...but..." Perspective is definitely the key. Thanks for coming by.

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