By Wayne Zurl
Some people have no bedside manner. These individuals can be spouses, friends, first line supervisors, and it’s certainly true of a few (or more) book reviewers.
I hate to get bombed by a blogger who has only six followers and spends most of his/her time passing judgment on throw-away diapers or kitchen appliances? You ask yourself, “Why didn’t he/she leave my book alone and pick up a Veg-O-Matic?” Perhaps you know someone who believes there’s only one way to skin a cat—their way—and they hand you grief on a platter over how you drive, what you cooked, or the work you’ve done.
How should you handle the pain of bad criticism? Let’s take it by the numbers and I’ll give you my thoughts.
1-Allow the steam to escape from your ears before proceeding.
2-Get all thoughts of physical violence and immediate verbal retribution out of your system before moving on to step three.
3-For a writer, look at the poorly worded, opinionated, juvenile, asinine, obnoxious, nasty, insensitive, grits-for-brains review, written by an obviously uneducated, mentally challenged cretin OBJECTIVELY and assess its merit. Perhaps among all the hurtful statements, something can be learned from a valid point (no matter how ill-phrased.) For those who have experienced the heartbreak of an oral assault, read between my lines and respond to your situation accordingly.
4-Writers, do not immediately click on Amazon’s comment box and write, “Oh, Yeah? I HATE YOU!” Everyone else, take a deep breath and don’t say something that could escalate into a knock-down-drag-out argument. Remember what the great 18th century author, Edward Gibbon, said, “I never make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect.”
5-If you must reply, (and there may not be a necessity to do so) you owe the reviewer or your critic (and your reputation) civility. Say or type in: “Thanks for your opinion,” perhaps accompanied by a short and professionally worded statement and send it on its way. Then, after you’re alone, and without delay, grab a pen and paper, and for your mental wellbeing, finish your thoughts with: Up yours, moron! What makes you think you’d know a good book/story/poem/casserole/cake/report/etc. (strike out those that do not apply) if it bit you in the ass? After you’re finished, crumble up your handwritten message and throw it at the cat. Your psychotherapist will be proud of you for practicing catharsis.
My best advice (and who follows his/her own advice?): Don’t dwell on the negative thoughts of others. Most great authors and competent people have received negative criticism from someone.
My second best advice (and I like this one much better): If available, print out a photo of the reviewer or critic and hope you see them on the street some day—preferably in a dark ally. Take this idea as something coming from a middle-aged kid originally from Brooklyn.
Wayne Zurl grew up on Long Island and retired after twenty years with the Suffolk County Police Department, one of the largest municipal law enforcement agencies in New York and the nation. For thirteen of those years he served as a section commander supervising investigators. He is a graduate of SUNY, Empire State College and served on active duty in the US Army during the Vietnam War and later in the reserves. Zurl left New York to live in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with his wife, Barbara.
Seventeen (17) of his Sam Jenkins mysteries have been produced as audio books and simultaneously published as eBooks. Ten (10) of these novelettes are now available in print under the titles of A MURDER IN KNOXVILLE and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries and REENACTING A MURDER and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries. Zurl’s first full-length novel, A NEW PROSPECT, was named best mystery at the 2011 Indie Book Awards, chosen as 1st Runner-Up from all Commercial Fiction at the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Awards, and was a finalist for a Montaigne Medal and First Horizon Book Award. His other novels are: A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT and HEROES & LOVERS. A fourth novel, PIGEON RIVER BLUES, is under contract to be published in the near future.
For more information on Wayne’s Sam Jenkins mystery series seewww.waynezurlbooks.net. You can read excerpts, reviews and endorsements, interviews, coming events, and see photos of the area where the stories take place.