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Posted on Dec 18, 2012 in Dear Diary | 29 comments

Bracing Myself

So in case you hadn’t noticed it from the heartfelt announcement last week, or the 80,000 references I’ve made since, I wrote a book. And I published that book, effectively marking the single most exciting event of my life to date. (Yes, even eclipsing both my Harry Potter birthday party and that time that I spoke to Daniel Radcliffe.)

Terra-3

Everyone who’s offered feedback on the book so far has been amazingly positive and encouraging! Terra even has 11 5-star reviews on Amazon so far, which is seriously amazing (thank you to those of you who have already read and reviewed the book!) — like, mindbogglingly so. Of course, I know that this ego-inflating love will only last so long. Eventually, somebody is going to pick up Terra and decide it’s really not their cup of tea. They will dislike it–maybe even hate it–and that’s okay! No book is for everyone, and I even know people that (gasp!) don’t like Harry Potter or really didn’t like The Hunger Games, and they are totally entitled to that opinion. Regardless of how misguided it may be. ;)

So ultimately, someone is going to dislike my book enough that they feel compelled to leave a negative review on Amazon or Goodreads or their blog or whatever. And maybe it’ll be really thoughtful and well-articulated and make some very valid points that I can use to improve my writing/the story in future books. Or, maybe it’ll be an all-caps trollfest of a comment that’s like, “THIS BOOK TOTALLY SUCKS FOR SOME UNSPECIFIED REASON! DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME! THIS AUTHOR IS THE WORST WRITER EVER, AND SHE’S UGLY, AND I WANT THOSE HOURS OF MY LIFE BACK!” And if it is, well, it is. I’ll have to learn how to deal with that.

See, I am a self-proclaimed wimp when it comes to criticism. I have skin like vellum, I’m super sensitive, I take EVERYTHING personally (seriously, just ask my family). Or, at least, that’s how I used to be. I really do think that writing this blog has helped toughen me up a little bit. Even though I’ve never really experienced the brunt of an internet movement’s backlash, or even had too many vocal haters on GOMI, there are definitely people out there who don’t like my blog, or don’t think I’m doing a good job with my weight loss/food choices/general attempts to grow up, or simply just don’t like me, period. And that’s valid too, because everyone has the right to their own opinion. Plus, there are definitely people out there that I don’t particularly adore, so how could I possibly expect myself to be immune from the same feelings? So, yes, despite my all-encompassing desire to have everyone ever in the whole wide world be in love with me, I really am finally starting to get to a place where I’m okay with knowing there are people out there who won’t.

So, while, yes, it is nice to bask in the glow of rave reviews from my wonderful readers thus far, in the back of my mind there’s always a little spark–like the pilot light of my self-protection gas fireplace–reminding me not to get too swept away. Because when I do get that first 1-star review, or stumble across that scathing blog post, and my family finds me cradling myself in the fetal position in the corner of my living room, I’m going to need to find the wherewithal to eventually pick myself back up again. Because even after I burst into tears and declare to the Twittersphere world that I’m never going to write again, that is not the truth. I will keep writing. Of course I will.

I always knew that even if this book only sold a dozen copies to people that are related to me by blood, I would keep going. Finish the story, finish the series, continue to try. Because nothing that was ever worth having ever came easy… or something like that. And because this is what I want to do. Like, really do, you know? And I know this post is starting to creep into the borders of Cheesyland, but I don’t care. :)

ANYWAY. The bottom line is that I’m really trying very hard to keep a level head now, so that when I do have to face the inevitable bad review music, I don’t go tailspinning into the doldrums so hard that I can’t pull myself back out again. Of course, this is a lot easier said now than I’m sure it will be to actually handle later. As The Oatmeal so brilliantly put it:

How I feel after reading 1,000 insightful, positive comments about my work: The whole internet loves me.
How I feel after reading 1,000 insightful, positive comments about my work and ONE negative one: The whole internet hates me. :(

Do you consider yourself to be someone with a thick skin? Or are you a super sensitive special snowflake like me? Ahahahaha. :D

29 Comments

  1. GRETCHEN! I just finished Terra on the Metro this morning and I have to say….I will not be your first negative review! Loved it!
    I also have to say I’m going to be begging you for book 2 spoilers basically forever. So you’re probably going to want to block me. Or punch me. Or just give in. Or write the whole thing and publish it by next week. Your choice. :)

    • HA! Carly, you rock. I promise I would never punch you… probably. ;) I’m SO glad you liked it! We should talk about this in more detail at some point… just saying. :D

  2. I am… ridiculously-hyper-sensitive-it’s-not-even-funny.

    That being said, I did get a 2 star review on Goodreads that pretty much shattered me for a few days. Then I went back and read it again, looked at the person’s profile, and decided it was a pretty bad “review” if you can even call it that.

    So yeah, even famous authors get bad reviews. Have you seen the flame-fest over The Casual Vacancy? It only has 3 stars on Amazon (the ratings are all over the place) but it’s the #1 Bestseller. I might be a little bit jealous… maybe.

    • That’s what I tell myself in preparation for the eventual battery, too. I mean, even the best, most acclaimed books have 1-star reviews out there. Nothing is ever going to appeal to EVERY PERSON’S tastes (unfortunately for us!) so we just have to try REALLY hard to focus on the positives (even though the negatives totally ring louder in our minds and memories… sigh).

  3. You know me well enough that I think you can attest to my belief of having thick skin… most of the time. I myself am the no-bs say it the way it is kind of person, so usually I can take it.

    BUT when it comes to my writing (both script and novel) and my film projects, I may act all tough and “I don’t care what you think, fool”, but it’s usually a front to my inner-snowflake melting into a pile of street slush.

    • I think that no matter who we are or how much criticism we have dealt with or how thick our skin is, there’s always gonna be that THING, that SOMETHING that is our confidence achilles heel.

  4. I flip back and forth. Sometimes I can brush things off really easily and other times the littlest things get to me.

    I ordered your book btw! Waiting for it to arrive :)

  5. I tend to agree I’m a bit more of the thick-skinned variety (yes, I know you call it being a “robot”) but I tell you- these pregnancy hormones will turn anyone into mush. If you look at me funny I might start to cry these days :P

    • I knew that tiny alien baby in your uterus (er… my niece, lololol) was gonna be good for something, Mrs. Robotson. I mean, Robinson. HA! I’m writing that one down.

  6. I believe in constructive criticism, just not when it comes to me! I take all criticism for what it is, someone hating everything about me and what I do. Or at least that’s how I feel. I take things very personally and at nearly 32 years young, I suppose that is something I should work on. I am VERY good at giving constructive criticism though, just ask my husband. ;)

    I can’t wait to read Terra! I’m sure the good reviews are all correct. xo

  7. How do you promote your book? Is it solely word of mouth and through your blog? My blog is still relatively new, and I don’t want to continually spam people like I’ve been told works (Harassing people just seems rude and a little needy, if you ask me). I noticed that the most interest I’ve gotten in it is when I put it up for a giveaway on Goodreads (and it lit a fire under me to actually understand CreateSpace!). There are a few Indie groups on Goodreads that are helping, too. Slow and steady wins the race, right? :)

    I’ve got your book on my to-read list, and I’ll probably get the Kindle edition on my next payday. Looking forward to it!

    • Hey Beks! I totally agree with you re: the not wanting to spam people incessantly. Which is why I relegate most of my Facebook posting about the book to my author page instead of my personal page, where I have to assume people who get those notifications are at least slightly more likely to want to see them? Hahahaha.

      Other than that, it’s largely been this blog, reaching out to other bloggers I know, and definitely relying on word of mouth. I’d say keep blogging, and maybe throw out the occasional mention on Twitter/Facebook (not just links to the book’s product page, but any reviews you’ve gotten, interesting facts, stuff to change it up, etc).

      I’m also trying really hard to pitch to book bloggers who read and review books in my genre (and have great presences on GoodReads) but they obviously all have lots of books on their plates already, so it’s proving a little more challenging. I’m planning on participating in a Goodreads giveaway, too, so it’s good to hear that has helped!

  8. My book hasn’t come in yet :-( Ah, well, very MATURE post ;-)

    • Awww, man! Well, here’s hoping it arrives soon! Also, hehe. ;)

  9. Just remember that most great artists never knew their worth while they were living. Even if people don’t like you now, they may realize your greatness later. Either way, you’ve left an indelible mark on society with the publication of your book and you should be proud of yourself. I’m on chapter 9 so far and loving the surprises and the complete believablity of it. I look forward to the future installments of this series :)

    • Thanks Megs!! I’m so glad you’re still enjoying it :D

  10. Ok wow, I am bad at the internet. I had never heard of GOMI until now and I have to say – what a vile bunch of people! So they seriously have nothing better to do with their time than slate other people?! It’s things like that that make me hate the internet and fear ever putting myself out there. Anywho, rant over. Really genuinely loved your book. I’ve read a lot of YA dystopia and I went into it expecting more of the same (sorry!) but by the end I was blown away! Already looking forward to the rest.

    • Haha, no sorry necessary! I knew going into it that I would have to fight against a lot of the “there’s too much dystopian YA stuff out” thing, so I’m just really glad you liked it! :)

  11. Just want you to know, I have stayed up an hour later than expected the past few nights just to read your book! This whole working during the day thing is cramping my reading style :)

    • Haha, thanks so much, Amy! These pesky dayjobs, eh? ;)

  12. I give GOMI one star and Terra five. Seriously.

    I have very thin skin, even when it comes to constructive criticism. I cry easily, beat up on myself for mistakes and generally see the very small negatives among the overwhelming positives :)

    But I’m working on it. I tend to have a brave face and talk a big game but mean people crush my soul.

    • I feel like this is definitely a hard one to have a “fake it ’til you make it” mentality on… but I’m definitely trying, too!

  13. I like to say I have thick skin. However, there are definitely times I let things get the better of me.

    One of my favorite quotes is “Don’t let success go to your head or let failure get to your heart.”

  14. I told you this already, people are douchey! Don’t take it personally.

    You are an amazing person.
    You are an amazing writer.

    Frankly, I’d love to live in your imagination.

    But the world would be a boring place if all of us liked the same things. Unfortunately, some people just lack the manners (especially on the internet!) to express differing opinions respectfully.

    When you see those negative reviews (though I’ll cross my fingers that they don’t come!), just go back to those emails, tweets, and comments that have made you giddy with glee this week.

    • Thank YOU, Mandi Kaye!! Obviously, it helps that I already got a preview of what your review is, hehe. <3

  15. Girl – I feel you. I’m a singer in a band and I had to learn the hard way that people are going to talk crap and I just have to suck it up and have faith in myself, which obviously is easier said than done. I am super sensitive and it hurt to find out when people didn’t “take me seriously” or when people have called me fat, anonymously, on my Tumblr blog after looking and photos of me on stage. (horrifying that someone would do that, no?) Anyway, the point is, I’m almost done with the book because I couldn’t put it down last night and it’s amazing. I don’t know you IRL, but i’m like, so proud of you for accomplishing such an amazing feat. Should you get a negative review, which I truly hope you don’t, just remember you have a ton more positive ones and you did something most people never accomplish. Haters just like to hate when they are jealous, anyway. Thank you for writing this amazing book and for being an inspiration to us all, Gretchen!

    • Aleeeeex — I love this comment. Thank you so much, and I’m SO sorry that you get that kind of flack. It’s like, on the one hand I try to keep in mind that whole “no such thing as bad press” thing, and that this is what you just have to deal with as something gets more popular, but on the other it’s like, “…seriously, world?”

      <3 <3 <3 (PS: What is your band? Do you have a page where I can check out your music?)

      • Eeek! I totally relate and completely agree about “no press is bad press” BUT when people are simply offering up rude insults instead of actual constructive criticism, there is legit NO reason to say anything. People need to keep the rude, unhelpful comments to themselves. Haters, I tell you! I will never understand the way the universe works. And yes, of course you can check us out! My band is called Band of Young Saints, and you can check us out on facebook @ facebook.com/bandofyoungsaints, or on reverb nation @ reverbnation.com/bandofyoungsaints :)

        • UPDATE: I FINISHED THE BOOK AND IT WAS AMAZING ASJDFAL;SDFJAKSDJF WHEN IS THE SECOND ONE HAPPENING i must know the outcome now!

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