Sunday, 19 August 2012

Everyone's a Critic

So, in among the positive reviews for BLOOD TEARS there are a handful of less than positive ones. So dry your eyes, no biggie. I’m fine with it. You can’t please everybody and rare is the book that doesn’t attract dissenting voices - a friend told me that To Kill a Mockingbird has over 20,000 1 star reviews on Goodreads. How’s that for perspective?

The thing is that now more than ever we live in a world of opinions. A world where opinions are easily uploaded onto public forums so everyone can read how we felt about something.

Which got me thinking.

I’ve always preferred to spread the love. If I enjoy something I want everyone to know about it. I want that author to be read by everyone. So, I’ll blog, tweet, FB, stop people on the street etc. But when I don’t like something I keep it to myself. It’s hard enough for writers to get an audience, why should I try and put someone off another writer’s hard work? Just because it didn’t do it for me, doesn’t mean there’s not an audience for it somewhere. My ego doesn’t demand that people sit up and PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT I THINK.

Is that what it’s about? Feeding the ego? Some of these people must have fearsome, hungry egos.

There’s one reviewer of BLOOD TEARS who has given it a 1 star on several review sites. That takes a lot of energy. She must have really hated it. Who could be arsed to pop in and out of different web pages to say the same thing again and again?

Growing up, I adopted the mantra, if I don’t have something good to say, then say nothing. Seems the internet has bred into us a different perspective. Just click on the comments thread of any newspaper article, sit back and wonder at the vitriol some people are happy to spew.

Now, it seems everyone is a critic. But of course, criticism is not a new thing. Those in the creative field have been complaining about them for a long time  ...

“Critics! Those cut-throat bandits in the paths of fame.” Robert Burns

“Don’t pay any attention to the critics - don't even ignore them”. Samuel Goldwyn

“If you have no critics you'll likely have no success.” Malcolm X

“Nature, when she invented, manufactured, and patented her authors, contrived to make critics out of the chips that were left.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

“Pay no attention to what the critics say; no statue has ever been put up to a critic.” Jean Sibelius

“When my time on earth is gone, and my activities here are passed, I want they bury me upside down, and my critics can kiss my ass!” Bobby Knight.

“As soon as you concern yourself with the 'good' and 'bad' of your fellows, you create an opening in your heart for maliciousness to enter. Testing, competing with, and criticizing others weaken and defeat you.” Morihei Ueshiba

Want to share your favourite quote about critics?


  1. I agree that posting many negative reviews takes a lot of time and energy and I'd even suspect ulterior motives nowadays with all this sock-puppet nonsense going on. Surely nobody would read a book that they didn't think they were going to enjoy? Over at my blog I have given some books slightly less than positive reviews but I always start a novel thinking I'm going to enjoy it. Otherwise why bother?

    1. True, Ricky. Why bother. In your case, your reviews tend to be balanced. And you can't like everything, eh?

  2. I totally agree, Michael, and I love that Ueshiba quote.

    I like Dale Carnegie - "Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding..." This is what's lacking for many reviewers who are simply criticism junkies on a power trip.

    They don't stop to think (or maybe don't care) about the ripple effect caused by their meanness that spreads to author, author's friends/family, other readers and even their publisher or agent.

    I'm with you. Let's err on the side of kindness.

    1. Yeah, totally, Livia. And then we should do what Malcolm X suggests about the trolls - don't even ignore them.

  3. Hey, just started reading Blood Tears. So far so good. :))

    And I don't think it's a matter of ego with those one-star people. I think it's more a shocking lack of power they feel in their lives. Then suddenly the internet gave everyone a voice. Even the arseholes have a big megaphone now, well, except we still tend to tune them out.

    1. I think you nailed it, LG.

      Hope you enjoy, BT.

  4. This one's about people who think they are ultra cool, and that includes many critics! It's a fave of mine and helps keep it all in perspective:
    "Beware of falling swingers." -George Harrison
    Catherine Stine’s Idea City

  5. there are evil cowards who would do mean things around the net because the web hides their faces and identity. The ones who ease their unhappiness by making other unhappy :(
    You can be pretty sure that 90% of trolls who give bad marks and reviews haven't even read the book or watched the film....

  6. When do I get my "personal" signing?
    Or, on your way to Superstar status have you forgotten us oldies :o(
    My name is NumptyHeid and I used to be a "friend" till you became rich and famous LOL.
    Hae a richt guid Hogmanay Mìcheal