I recently began submitting articles to a group of related magazines and newspapers. It's a diversion from the work on my manuscript, but an effort to reach new readers. I'm not an utter newbie to reviews and having other people critique and express their opinion about my work, but the news world is a different arena, and freelancers will find themselves requiring more immediate literary first aid.
The article goes online, and minutes later subscribers are letting you know whether or not they agree with your take on a topic. Some are kind. Some comment as if they've been sharpening their claws for just such a moment.
Controversy spurs more readers, as they incite their neighbors to also rail against the writer, so seasoned news-vets welcome the negative comments as well as the positive. But me? Not so much. I'm a novelist with tender, "please love me" skin, and this is a very uncomfortable platform.
I've written a few humorous "lifestyle" pieces, and about four historical articles. I then wrote a slightly controversial article about Hollywood's liberal agenda and that piece had surpassed all the others in total hits. But it also garnered the most comments--about one and half per every thousand readers, most disagreeing with the article's subject's position.
My peers express the same over reading negative reviews. It's our nature. What drives us to create tender characters and compelling story lines comes from our own experiences, our own fears and concerns. In short, WE are in every line we write, and that makes negative reviews sting.
I'd love to survey men and see if a negative review affects them the same way it affects the women. Is it that need to be liked? That personalization of all negative feedback that makes a single person's negative opinion erase all the positive?
When the US Women's Soccer Team won the world title they were asked what made them so successful. One of the players answered, "Our coach. He coached us like men but treated us like women."
When asked to elaborate, her explanation was profound and has remained with me, proving itself to be true over and over. "He coached us like men, pushing us hard, to be our best and to keep improving, but he treated us like women. He understood that if you tell a roomful of men, 'Someone on the team isn't pulling their weight,' the men will likely look at one another and say, "Which one of you isn't pulling your weight," but if you say the same thing to a roomful of women, they will each say to themselves, "He thinks I'm not pulling my weight."
It's incredible, isn't it? Maybe I should write an article about that!
Anyway, sales are up on the books since the historical articles appeared, and though the release date is delayed, we're still hoping for a late summer release on "In God Is Our Trust." Thanks for all the support!