Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones, But Negative Reviews Of My Book Will Kill Me


When I was twenty years old, I was living a good life. I had everything I could ever ask for.

Then, I decided to kill my self esteem.

I had my first novel published.

Sorry, self.

Putting your writing in the public sphere is the antidote for self-esteem.

When people tell me they want to write a book, they always seem surprised when I seem disgusted and can’t believe they’re serious. They don’t understand that from the first day you put pen to paper until the last day you exist on earth, it’s going to haunt you. It’s going to be a black cloud that jumps up and pisses all over your good feelings when you least expect it.

Let me break it down for you:

  1. You decide to write a book, and write it.
  2. You send out queries to agents, who tell you how much it sucks – if you receive a response at all.
  3. You send out queries to publishers, who tell you how very much it sucks – if you receive a response at all.
  4. An agent / publisher tells you it sucks, but maybe it doesn’t suck just enough to fool someone into believing what you’ve written is passable enough to get published.
  5. An editor is paid a goodly sum of cash to go through your work and tell you exactly which parts of your work suck the most, and instructs you to fix them.
  6. An editor, after many rounds of edits, finally gives up and agrees the manuscript sucks the least it’s going to suck.
  7. The work is published! (Note: This is the last time you will ever like this work.)
  8. Unless you are the 0.01% of incredible authors out there, you will now be told by strangers on the internet that it sucks, you suck – and your mother probably sucks too.

I can’t speak for the pre-internet age of authors, but I can say this: at least y’all didn’t have the opinion of everyone with a dial-up modem weighing on your creation.

People, frankly, seem more inclined to share their opinion if it’s negative. Think of it – you love that bagel place around the corner from you, but remember when you last gave it a Yelp review? That dude who hates it irrationally and has nothing else to fill his time does.

The point is this: If you plan to create in this age, you have to be a little crazy.

You can’t create with the audience already in mind, or place your value of your work on their reaction. You need to be willing to create because you’re left with absolutely no choice in the matter. The creation exists because it must. 

If you have something inside you that has to come out, that has to be told – what is the opinion of someone you’ve never met really worth?

Hell, it could be worse.

You could be fighting under anonymous screennames in a TC article comment section.