The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword?
With the publication of my first book, Mr. Cotton Wanders Europe: Where To Next? I learned my first lesson about being an author. I quickly learned that I needed to grow a thicker skin. As many of you know, for the first five days of the book’s publication, I offered the electronic version free to everyone who would like a copy. A few hundred copies were downloaded and I eagerly awaited the first review. It took a few days, but the first one appeared from Jennifer H-W “allweathers”
As I started to read, I immediately knew that the review was not a good one. In fact, it was a scathing and deeply venomous one. I’ve inserted the entire review below:
“I feel a little bad about this review because the author comes across as a nice man but he cannot write. It is patently obvious from the beginning that he is totally out of his depth. Painful is the only word I can use, I am still completely perplexed as to why I finished it, I wanted to be fair I guess. What is more, he waxes lyrical throughout about the ‘adventure’ he and the saintly Kim are having on their motor cycle trip through Europe but this is NOT an adventure. This is a high end tourist visit, they stay in the very best of accommodation and eat in high end restaurants and barely experience the true nature of the various places they visit. I got this e-book through Amazon for $0.00…..and that was too expensive.”
My heart sank. Could my book really have been that bad? Prior to its publication, it had been read by a few friends and each of them said that they had enjoyed it. So how could several people pre-read the book, and when published, generate such a negative and personal review?
My initial feeling was one of hurt. I had spent much time and effort writing the book and it had taken a significant part of my life. The next feeling was anger, particularly when the commentator personally ridiculed Kim. She doesn’t know Kim and the personal verbal attack was way out-of-bounds. In closing the commentator felt it important to state that the price of the free book was too expensive.
After reading the comment, I spent a couple of days being quite down. I felt like the review was inaccurate, as well as personal assault on Kim and me. I wasted a fair amount of time dwelling on the topic but then it dawned on me. I was indeed wasting my time worrying about the first review.
I know that everyone is entitled to their opinion and this person was entitled to hers. But as I re-read the review, I could see that she was writing not about the book, but about herself. She seemed like a jealous, angry person who was attempting to prove their worth to the reading community. But in leaving a review such as the one she left, she made it clear that she hadn’t really comprehended the book and was more intent in leaving a negative review than in providing the community with a helpful summary.
Some of her stated facts were wrong “they stay in the very best of accommodations” is an incorrect statement as we spent several nights places that were far from the very best. For example, our night outside of Rodez in a third floor, 6 X 8 un-air-conditioned 90 degree room with music blaring until 2:00 AM was certainly not the very best of accommodation. But it certainly was a safe place to lay our heads for the evening.
Accordingly, what I took from this part of her review was that my story telling attempts to relay the best about the particular person, place or thing had been accomplished. She apparently keyed on these descriptions and transposed her dislike of these good things. In her mind, clearly you can not have an adventure if you are not feeling pain or discomfort. Suddenly she seemed to be a very sad person.
Her verbal attack on Kim, referring to her as “saintly” once again seemed to point to her sadness. To take the time to distinctly single out Kim as “saintly” seemed to me to indicate that someone special was missing from her life and her lashing out was an indication of jealousy.
It also seemed she knew that she was going to be over the top with her review and felt it necessary to point out that she was trying to be fair. Her words were. “Painful is the only word I can use, I am still completely perplexed as to why I finished it, I wanted to be fair I guess.” If she really wanted to be fair, she would have been factual and left out the barbs. But no, she felt it important to include them to prove her own superiority. Sorry Ms. Jennifer H-W “allweathers”, writing a “review” and filling it with personal barbs does not make you a superior commentator, it just makes you seem lonely and angry.
Lastly, she felt it important enough to indicate, “I got this e-book through Amazon for $0.00…..and that was too expensive.” Well Ms. Jennifer H-W “allweathers”, I am sorry that you apparently feel that way, and that you spent $0.00 for the book. That was the lowest price I could offer. Now that you’ve read Mr. Cotton Wanders Europe: Where To Next? you will not have to endure such misery again.
In closing, I sincerely wish Ms. Jennifer H-W “allweathers” a happier and less angry life. I also want to thank you for teaching me a lesson. Going forward I promise to have a thicker skin, and take each review for its true worth.