In my world, skin shouldn’t have to be thick. I slather it with lotions to make it soft, sunburn-free, and smooth. I’ve never encountered a lotion claiming to:
“THICKEN YOUR SKIN! Lavender or Rose Scent. Never again let a mean word seep in.”
No, I rub lavender body lotion day and night to keep skin from drying out in the NE weather.
At least, that’s my first guess when I go on the Amazon page for my book The Right Wrong Man and read – gasp – a bad review.
My stomach turns into a turnip, my eyes moisten, and my soul shrivels into a sniveling snail.
How could this reader be so…so… mean?
Never mind that many others have written appreciative accolades on that Amazon page:
“Pamela S. Wight is an extraordinary story weaver.”
“Ms. Wight’s descriptive abilities are superb! You could feel the thick air and the tension of the tornado as it hit the boat.”
“This is a real page-turner, full of heart-racing excitement. I literally could not put the book down.”
All well and good. As a writer, I admit, words of praise after the blood, sweat and tears of flushing out those characters, the plot, the ending, feel really really great.
But then, suddenly a BAD review popped up:
“The book was predictable, boring and very poorly written.”
And just like that, my day was ruined.
Well, to be honest, several of my days were ruined.
If this reviewer hated the book so much, why did she read it? And an even stronger question is, why did she take the time to desiccate/denounce/deride it on my book page?
Who writes negative reviews like that?
If I read a book that bores me, I give it to page 45. If I’m still bored, I put it down and pick up a better one.
If I read a book that energizes, moves, entertains and/or educates me, I write a review on the book’s Amazon page.
As I tell my creative writing students, reading (and writing) is subjective. What I may like, another reader might abhor. [Currently, my go-to book is Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. But a week ago I was loving The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain. Two extremely different genres.]
But back to me.
After three days of moping, I met my daughter for our 6 a.m. tea before the start of the work day. She took one look at me and said with some alarm, “what’s wrong?”
“I got a bad review on my Amazon page,” I confessed.
She burst out with a laugh, then contained it enough to say. “Mom! That’s good news!”
I peered at her with a bit of malice. “Why?”
“Everyone’s not going to like your book. But you’re out there! Lots of different people are reading your work. That’s positive.”
Noticing my unconvinced expression, she continued. “You shouldn’t read your reviews. We all know to not read reviews – any one can say anything they want out there.”
“Who’s we all?” I ask. My daughter is a teacher. I didn’t know that students now write reviews of their teachers on different ‘review’ sites.
She explained: “On one of my ‘bad’ reviews, a kid wrote, ‘Ms. C. is a horrible teacher. She has favorites.’ ” My daughter winked and added, “Clearly, this student is not one of my favorites.”
Wow. My daughter must use different body lotion than I do. She has thick skin.
Next time we meet for tea, I’ll ask her for the lotion’s brand name, and the scent.