Monday, April 22, 2013

The Dreaded 'S' Word.

Synopsis? No, not that one. SUBJECTIVE.

I know, Writers. I know. I grew to hate that word with the fire of a thousand suns as well, so don't look at me like that. This is going somewhere. Bear with me.

(And boy does this apply to Pitchmas with Jessa Russo and I. We battle it out for our VERY different favourite pitches in the inbox, but MANY that we separately LOVE don't make it to the blog).


We writers hear this word A LOT. Agents reply, saying that your MS isn't for them, but to keep querying because it's only their subjective opinion and someone may feel differently.

Time passes. Queries happen. Agents are signed. Then Editors say the same thing! Not right for *US* but it's a SUBJECTIVE industry, so keep submitting it!

If (when) you publish something, the READERS will get their delicious, grabby raccoon hands on your work.

And reviews will come pouring (trickling) in!

Some readers will love it.

Some will not.

Some don't leave reviews, so you won't know how they feel about your work.

Those great, 4 and 5 star reviews feel AMAZING, don't they? The readers who compliment you, and fangirl and squee all over your work, make you feel like you did something right. They make you feel like okay, I did something right! It was a tough road, but I got here! I made this MS, built this world, and people LOVE IT!

But wait...

What... what IS that...?

That just there.


Okay, maybe that's a typo. CLEARLY they meant to click another place, and the cat headbutted their hand over, and they accidentally clicked on 1 Star instead of 5. Or 4. Definitely no lower than 3.

And then someone leaves a REVIEW with that 1 Star rating! So you click it, because surely there's been some mistake...

But there isn't. That person backs up their hatred for your book with cute little gifs that make you want to scream.

They HATE your characters. They LOATHE the love interest. THEY HATE YOUR WRITING!

Now. Your first reaction may be this:

Leading to this:

Which can transform into something even uglier:

(DON'T EVER RESPOND TO A NEGATIVE REVIEW. You're only going to look like an asshole, and you WILL eventually get over it, then feel even worse. But now people will have a reason to send nasty little gif parades your way).

Here's where that AWFUL, OVERUSED ASSHOLE of a word, SUBJECTIVE, can save the day.

No, really.

It's SO HARD to remember that books are subjective, art is subjective.

But here's how you can remind yourself of that.

Take yourself out of the equation.

Go to Goodreads, or another site where there are book reviews.

Look up a book you LOVE. Something that you would recommend to EVERYONE.

Now check out it's negative reviews. They'll be there. No, really. I know you LOVED it, but some people really couldn't stand it. AND HOW DARE THEY?! THEY are CLEARLY IDIOTS!

Now, I want you to look up the reviews to a book you absolutely DESPISED. Yeah, the one you'd gladly yank from the history of books if you could travel in time.

I want you to look at THIS book's 5 star, swoony, LOVED it, reviews.They'll be there. No, really. I know you HATED it, but some people think this book is the best ever written! HOW DARE THEY?! THEY are CLEARLY IDIOTS!

See what I did there?

People LOVE the books you HATE!

People HATE the books you LOVE!

WHAT is up with THAT?!

Can it really be subjective?

It's easier to see when you remove YOUR work from the situation. When you remove your Crit Partner's work from the situation.

So keep this in mind when you hear that S word. Remember that it REALLY IS Subjective.

 And remember:


  1. Wow... naked David Tennant as Doctor Who.... *blinks* Sorry. Did you saying something? ;)

    (I can only hope that one day I will feel the need to reread this because a stranger gave me a bad review. Alas! that day is not yet here!)

    1. Damn, now I have to scroll back looking for that pic!

  2. I was frightened by the creepy llama, but I was so glad I hung on for shirtless David Tennant saying OH YES. I would like to reply in kind.

    I have regular conversations with people about books we disagree on. I'd be shocked if there were one book that everyone loved. Or even most people. That's why it's such a good thing there are SO MANY DIFFERENT BOOKS to choose from. :D

  3. Subjective really is a four-letter word that can work both ways. 5 stars for this post!

  4. I'd never care because anyone who hates my writing is stupid, hmph.

  5. A couple nights ago I read the Kindle reviews of Bared to You (I really just don't want to be done with the book) and I was SHOCKED at how many people tore it to shreds! WTF! How can you not adore Gideon Cross's big, beautiful...apartment!? Subjective, I know.

  6. I loved this so much. It's so true. As a writer, you have to develop a thick skin and the ability to bite your tongue when you put your work out there. This isn't Utopia and everyone isn't going to love what you write. The world would be a really boring place if everyone liked the same things. Great post and hello David Tennant. Swoon.

  7. Yeah, I gave up reading reviews of my small press/self-pubbed books a while back. I know everyone has subjective taste. I get it. I do. But it's still so hard when an agent says it's not right for them. Kudos on the David Tennat pix.

  8. Wow, I LOVED this! So many times, I get defensive about my writing and then feel like a 5 star ass afterwards for lashing out! But if I take my work out of the equation, it is A LOT easier to be subjective. Thanks so much! :-) MRS N

  9. So true, and something I need to always keep in mind. Great post as usual!

  10. it's true that I really started hating that word, but now that someone has actually explained it (thank you, awesome human being!), it does make sense!

    Thank you!!! :D

  11. You've mastered this whack-a-mole game like none other and well smacked some ugly little suspicions atop their thick little skulls. For anyone who was left wondering, the pitches presented during #PitchMAS were KILLER. That's not subjective, that's fact. Everyone did a wonderful job.

    Eternally honored!