A reader asked me to write on handling criticism, hence this blog post today.
I’m fond of saying that if you want to find out who your friends are, throw (or be the star of) a bridal or baby shower. People you think won’t respond will come through amazingly, while a couple of people you were sure would come through remarkably won’t bother to send an RSVP.
Likewise, through my involvement in becoming a published author long ago and through friends’ experiences, I found that becoming a published author can also result in some surprises.
- Group A will be eager to read your book.
- Group B will encourage you but may not read your book. This is okay since this means they love you and are on your team.
- Group C will give your book a cursory glance and find something wrong with it.
- Group D will sneer if your book is self-published. Or if you are traditionally published, Group D will scoff that your publisher isn’t “important” or “big” enough.
- Group E will deride that your book didn’t win a specific award, while the books they read all win that acclaim. If your book happens to win that particular prize, they’ll either say it’s a fluke or they’ll become silent.
- Group F will ignore anything concerning your book. You will never know if it’s because they are jealous, they don’t care about the topic, or whatever.
How to respond?
When criticized, there’s no need to give anyone the chance to dwell on a litinay of complaints about your book. Sure, readers can disparage points about any book, even books they like overall. Constructive criticism can be helpful, and books edited with the greatest care can be flawed. Let the person speak. Once. Thank them, and assure them you have noted their thoughts and appreciate that they are interested in your work. Then move on.
If the person’s criticism is not constructive but seems to be coming from a place of disrespect, acknowledge that person. Don’t retort. Be kind. The worse thing you can do is think of a zinger an hour later and kick yourself for not delivering it at the time. Zingers are about you “winning” and do not solve problems.
Instead, pray for them and for your strength in overcoming their jealousy. Search your heart for areas where you might harbor envy for authors you perceive to be more successful than yourself. Praying in this manner may help you understand the person’s reaction to your success and improve your relationships with others.
Being ignored can feel worse than being the victim of active criticism. Force yourself not to be upset when someone doesn’t read your book. Know that time is limited, and tastes vary. Your book’s success doesn’t depend on one particular reader. Instead, focus on those readers who appreciate your work. By God’s grace, those readers will be many.
What tips do you have for dealing with criticism?
How have you seen people you admire deal with jealousy?
How do you deal with your jealousy?
Who is a beautiful example of a successful, yet humble person?