Coming off a year in which my manuscript placed in a few contests, including the biggie RWA Golden Heart contest, you might think my book is just so dang wonderful, who wouldn’t love it? I’d like to think that too. But even though my book’s not yet on bookshelves and available to get book reviews scathing enough to make me scurry into a dark hole, I have no such belief.
Instead, I’ve realized that some people won’t like your book. And that’s okay. Among my fabulous contest scores are some mediocre and a few terrible scores. Why did some judges give it high marks and others wanted me to go back to the drawing board and rethink the whole novel? Because my novel isn’t for everyone. No author’s is.
The fact that not every reader adores Sharing Hunter puts me in good company. Check out these reviews, and then the book that sparked them.
“…no more than a glorified anecdote, and not too probable at that…” – The Chicago Tribune
“…an absurd story, whether considered as romance, melodrama, or plain record of New York high life.” – The Saturday Review
THE GREAT GATSBY, Scott Fitzgerald
“…no better in tone than the dime novels which flood the blood-and-thunder reading population… his literary skill is, of course, superior, but their moral level is low, and their perusal cannot be anything less than harmful.” — in The New York Times
THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN, Mark Twain
“The book as a whole is disappointing, and not merely because it is a reworking of a theme that one begins to suspect must obsess the author. [The main character] who tells his own story, is an extraordinary portrait, but there is too much of him.” – The New Republic
THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, J.D. Salinger
“How a human being could have attempted such a book as the present without committing suicide before he had finished a dozen chapters, is a mystery.” – Graham’s Lady’s Magazinei
WUTHERING HEIGHTS, Emily Bronte
“the plan and technique of the illustrations are superb. … But they may well prove frightening, accompanied as they are by a pointless and confusing story.” — Publisher’s Weekly
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, Maurice Sendak
Just take that last one. Guess what? Sendak didn’t write this book for everyone. It’s found its way into the hearts of children, of all ages, over the years. Here’s how the Library Journal‘s described it: “This is the kind of story that many adults will question and for many reasons, but the child will accept it wisely and without inhibition, as he knows it is written for him.”
As much as I wish everyone would love my story as much as I do, some people won’t like my book, and a few may even hate it. Yet I wholeheartedly believe there’s an audience for my story. (And I’m crossing my fingers it’s a rather large audience.)
What book did you love that others didn’t? Or what book did you dislike that others loved?
Sources: 11 Beloved Books With Shockingly Bad Reviews – Buzzfeed.com; Maurice Sendak’s Thin Skin – Slate.com; 12 Classic Books That Got Horrible Reviews When They First Came Out – Huffington Post; 15 Scathing Early Reviews of Classic Novels