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.
That so-called criticism of that lady leaves me flabbergasted. It sounds more like a personal attack.(saintly Kim?) I have the feeling she’s envious of you two having such a great relationship.It has nothing to do with the actual story which is very entertaining and informative. I am not surprised that you were shocked ,sad and then angry. I would be ,too.It’s also easier said than done to tell you shake it off and disregard it as it is so vicious.It’s not a real commentary of your book from which you could have learned something. I hope you get many positive reactions because your book is great !
April 27, 2014 at 1:52 pm
Mike, those of us who know you and Kim, and have followed your adventures through various media, we LOVE to read about your trips. I am deeply sorry that I didn’t push further and become the first reviewer on Amazon – it would have been a good review and will be as soon as I finish. Maybe it takes a special kind of reader to appreciate what you offer – and this Jennifer … obviously expected something she didn’t get. I’m glad you recognized her criticism for what it is. I am looking forward to finishing Mr Cotton’s European tour, and surely hope that you will publish your adventures of the Dempster, Iceland, Labrador, South America, and some of the US backroads. Your descriptions of scenes and events bring things close to my heart and I feel like I’m riding with you guys. And as far as the comment about Kim – pure jealousy! Your true friends recognize that – after all these years of marriage – you still love and adore your wife. It comes through in your writings (even on FB) loud and clear. Such lasting love can make any woman jealous!
April 27, 2014 at 2:40 pm
Alice took the words right out of my mouth. I can’t imagine anybody having anything negative to say about your book.I just got mine and am reading the story again.I told you before, you are a born writer.I hope to see a whole series of these adventures.
April 28, 2014 at 5:24 pm
I have not read your book but have been following your “adventure”. The comment left by the lady was out of line. Granted if it did not meet up to her expectations then she could have just stated that. What we write or do does not always appeal to others. I just finished a month touring out west from Michigan. To me it was an adventure but to others maybe not. I did it for my own sanity and enjoyment. Don’t let one persons comment get too you. She may not be a very happy person but don’t let her change yours.
April 29, 2014 at 3:05 pm
Thank you all for your very kind comments. I’ve learned a lesson and greatly appreciate your thoughts.
All the best,
April 29, 2014 at 6:55 pm