Sunday, 6 October 2013

When to Ignore a Critic: Part 1

The votes are in. It turns out you guys want to know more about when it’s okay to ignore critics. This is probably because we've all had bad reviews. If you've only had love for everything you write, chances are you haven’t faced the right audience yet. 

However, this article is a much about when to listen to a critic as it is to ignore them.

You can’t please everyone. 

You’re not even meant to please everyone. A critic once told me to only listen to people who didn’t like my genre, didn’t like the first chapter, and wouldn’t have read the book after reading the blurb. This angered me because I worried she might have told others to do this too.

At first, I wanted to rant back at her how absurd that was - you write for an audience, a subsection – but then I realised she’d learn that in her own time or suffer the consequences.

Sure, some books are loved by all. Harry Potter is a good example. It was originally aimed at a young audience, yet it enchanted most of the nation. The issue here is that you don’t aim to write a Harry Potter. Well, you kinda do, but not that overtly.

Of course you can write more mainstream and for a general audience. By doing so, you won’t be aiming at real lovers of that genre, and neither will you appeal to everyone in the world.

Please an audience. 

When a critic states they are a huge fan of your genre, have read many books on a similar topic, then you should perk your ears up to what they have to say. They know the genre (as should you!) and they represent the people who would buy your book.

When a critic states this isn’t their preferred genre, then be cautious. Would they buy the book when it’s published? Probably not. Again, you can’t please everyone.

Please yourself. 

This is something that much more famous and greater writers than I have said many times before. Write because you enjoy it. If a critic tells you to make a change that would make you dislike your own story, then ignore them. For now, anyway.

If you’re showing others your work with intent to publish, you may have to make some sacrifices. ‘I like it’ shouldn’t be your excuse for dismissing thousands of negative comments. That joke your character says may be hilarious to you, but if your readers are cringing, then it’s a bit similar to when you’re the only person in the room laughing at your own joke. The only thing missing is the room.

Click here for part 2.