Bad Review Leading to Memories of Rejection

This blog post is crazily long for me, but I truly cannot help myself. ID has been causing me serious problems again. Here is some background knowledge for you. In the early 19th century Sigmund Freud proposed there are three main components’ to our ‘psychic apparatus’. Dudes, and dudettes, I introduce ID, Ego and Super Ego. ID is impulsive. ID had me deciding it was my dream to become a published author resulting in me spending over two years bashing out a manuscript I hoped would make all my pie-in-the-sky dreams come true. There is more on that rascally devil ID later.

After months of writing, and more writing, and more writing, Ego comes along. All organized rationality and sensible logic, Ego makes me rewrite the damn thing again, taking into account the plethora of advice floating around the internet, and makes me research into countless books on query’s, synopsis (which are like devil pitchforks), before putting together a submission package. Upon deciding I was finished, I became ID’s proverbial bitch. It stroked me into contentment when doubts caused by horror stories of rejection emails, and manuscripts never being picked up made me worry.

Before I go on let me assure you I am intelligent, and successful in my everyday corporate profession, and considered myself a reasonable, easy going person, content with her lot in life. That was before I was mugged. Mugged one morning at 12:43AM. I sent a query to an agent and in less than five hours I had a rejection. I thought it took weeks! Was it that bad (twitch, gasp, twitch) that they couldn’t wait to stab me? A person I am naming Rejecter ran away with half my sanity cackling diabolically. Two lines. Let me repeat that TWO LINES was the time afforded to me in the rejection email I received to my first ever manuscript.

It’s kind of poetic really. Two lines for two years.

When I envisioned clocking said Rejecter around the head with my iMac then flying - tiger - crane style kicking her/him in the forehead I should have taken a deep breath, ticked the Agency of my list and moved on. Yes, well, in the last month I have discovered I am not a reasonable, and easy person when it comes to my writing.

Here is an account of the disillusionment and confusion that followed my first ever rejection. After an in depth and deeply emotional experience with Ben and Jerry I tried not to trip and break my ankle, stumbling into my bedroom. Riding high on indignation I shook my boyfriend awake, and tearfully told him of the cruel, evil Rejecter who had torn my heart out. He promised me I was not crazy, and that I was not suffering a myocardial infarction from the stress of the two lines burned onto the back of my eyeballs. And no, a hospital was not at this time deemed necessary. My boyfriend, though troubled by my sugar induced tirade, and declaration of war on the Agency who had sent the rejection, managed to fall back asleep.

With no ice cream left, and no desire to do anything but stomp around, I got into bed and glared at the ceiling. A few hours later on the cusp of sleep I was assaulted by an epiphany sent from Super Ego explaining I no longer wanted to write. That I was over this crap and so much better than such childish behavior. I went to sleep feeling strangely vindicated (against who I still don’t know, perhaps ID?). Then I woke up. As mentioned previously ID has been thoroughly screwing me over. Perhaps if I were a kinkier soul I would enjoy it. The demon otherwise known as my ‘creativity’ haunted me. I was undercover people, it was hard to ignore the girl with sneakers, crazy hair and wild eyes scratching words on the walls.

To quote Sigmund himself ‘Transference neuroses correspond to a conflict between the ego and the id; narcissistic neuroses, to a conflict between the ego and the superego; and psychoses, to one between the ego and the external world’. Translation: ID, the dark twisted side of my nature is kicked Super Ego’s ass. So after seven rejections I decided to self publish, because I wanted to see if my writing really was just bad, and if I should give up.

One month later, here I am trying hard not to become a neurotic mess, or screaming banshee about a bad review I had yesterday. I am striving to be professional, and mature about the whole thing. As I stormed around the living room, (de ja vu anyone?) my boyfriend calmly said, “But wasn’t feedback, good and bad, the whole point of you doing this?”

Yes, I threw my shoe at his face (He’s fine, btw, my aim is terrible. And yes, he loves me more than air, and that is the reason he puts up with me).

To date I have had exactly one bad review. By bad I mean the nameless person said all bad things, and no good things. I have received another review that was quite negative, but it was constructive, so I took it on the chin. This bad review actually had tears threatening to fall and reminded me of the Rejecter’s email, because I know it’s not true. And it’s been posted in a pretty damn importance place too, and the effect it’s having is pretty significant. The three emails I had with praise from other readers afterwards did help ease the pain somewhat though, but still. Look, I’ll share it;

“The writing is horrible. The language is stiff. It sounds as if you were reading the diary of someone with a scientific, rather than lyrical, mind.”

Mouth open wide; ahhhhhhh! *Deep Breath* That was the whole review. All of it. Three bad things, all around the writing style. You don’t like my style, that’s cool, but why do you view a different style as a bad thing… You.. You… You mean person you!

Where is my professional response thanking the reader but redeeming myself at the same time…Well I can’t post one. Because I don’t live in America, and Amazon won’t give me access to comment. *Wailing noise* So I have to site here and glare at my screen. It's an open sore I cannot soothe, and it's itchy! 

Now, I have seen worse reviews than this. I have seen books I thought were fantastic torn to shreds by people who thought they were clever for being so witty, and cruel at the same time in a public forum. Do people forget that there is a human writer who then has to read these reviews? I mean, even when I write a negative review I make sure to write at least one positive to give the person a grain of hope.

I know being able to deal with such things without reacting like a bomb has gone off takes time, but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. Thank the heavens my current ratio review ratio is roughly twenty 40:1, positive to negative, or I may get upset and write a thinly concealed passive aggressive blog post…oh, yeah. I’ll stop the rant here.


  1. Don't sweat it. People like what they like, and bash what they don't. Sometimes they say ass backward( I'm from the South in the U.S., please excuse the idiom) things to make themselves feel better. Because at the end of the day, the point is that you were the braver one--you won't that damn book, not them!--and sent it into the world for criticism.

    There are only two types of people that would do something insane like that: a person that is a fool or a person that is fierce.

    Which one are you?

  2. Thanks Sharde. Your comments really hit home, and made me laugh.

    I am fierce.

  3. It's much much harder to create than to critique. (I can barely put together a blog post, so I applaud your talent to write and self-publish a trilogy) I don't think you are alone in being affected by reviews. Stephen Fry for instance won't read reviews, won't let people tell him about reviews, he doesn't even read newspapers.

    Rejection would seem to be the norm for writers, most of whom could probably paper a room with the rejections they got before being published.

    There's a lot of hate and bile in comments on the Internet. Maybe less so in reviews because of the effort needed to write something that's long, although I have to think why bother with the negative why not concentrate on trying to point out all the neat stuff that's out there.

    I liked your book. I look forward to the sequel. I would like to know more about the human world and backstory. (If it were me I'd have left the reveal that Rae is a demon/fairy to the end of book one. Show what life she is losing and leave the reader tantalised about what happens next. but that'd be my book) Two weeks after reading it, I can't remember the mistakes. Even at the time I wasn't that aware of many, or enough to break the flow of the story. But while I'd judge the story and entertainment value in the same way as more mainstream work, I'm also willing to give some slack to something free and self published.
    I downloaded it because it showed up in the recent books in Feedbooks on Stanza when I was looking for something to read. The cover attracted my attention. It is very professional. Honestly, I probably wouldn't have paid for it, certainly not the standard cover price of a paperback. I might pay for a sequel, depending on the price!

    I feel you have something. I had no particular investment in the book, it's not really a genre I'd normally read. I could easily have deleted it if I wasn't enjoying it. But I finished it, fairly quickly. I sought out your web site. (The flashness makes that difficult on iOS btw) and will look out for the next book.

    I don't know if you are aware of them but check out Eric Flint (Baen) and Cory Doctorow on e-publishing, no drm and giving away your writing. For them at least it paradoxically pays dividends.
    You seem to have cracked the first obstacle, you have gotten your work in front of an audience.

    Best wishes in your further endeavours, I'm sure you will have a sympathetic editor and professional proofreaders someday.

  4. Hi Shiawase,

    I like the fact you explain what you'd like to read, but then note that it would be your book.

    My hope is that the revised edition will stop people from taking shots at the errors and focus on the story. I tend to find that those who can appreciate that I'm an Indie and that this was my first attempt can rise above stating the obvious and reviewing the story I've told. Those reviews are always the most helpful.

    I appreciate that some might not have read the book if they had to buy it, which is why I offered it as free. I wanted to remove that barrier. If people like the story line enough hopefully they will buy the sequel, which won't cost that much; 0.99 to 1.99 as a digital download.

    Thanks for commenting and I'm glad you enjoyed the story :)

  5. nicole1.1.11

    Just wanted to say I very much enjoyed the book. I just got a nook for xmas and yours was the first book I read on it. Can't wait for thhe next One!

  6. I can't say enough how much I loved Demon Girl, Demon Day,& am anxiously awaiting Demon Dark.Yes, I loved it enough I will be willing to buy it & I'm on disability payments from the government which in the USA is not alot on a fixed income, my husband works, but we have four kids (24,12,9,& 8 years old). I don't get the criticism, really, the style, story,& characters I love. If I was writing the story it would be no fun because I would already know what was going to happen, the spice of life is the variety.You can't please everybody all the time, so please yourself & all will fall into place. Enjoy what you do & it will show in your work. I am grateful for writers like yourself who write for the enjoyment. You are very talentedand will only grow as you continue in your ministrations,& you better continue! Never let one of your gifts disappear due to non-use (if you don't use it, you lose it)!
    Enough babble from me, go write something! ;•)