Some People Will Hate Your Book

Heart & BookComing 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.comMaurice Sendak’s Thin Skin – Slate.com12 Classic Books That Got Horrible Reviews When They First Came Out – Huffington Post15 Scathing Early Reviews of Classic Novels

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4 thoughts on “Some People Will Hate Your Book

  1. I started writing 4 years ago. I’ve been like a sponge learning everything about the craft. I put myself through a crash course and still have a lot to learn.

    My book club has only liked a couple of NYT best sellers in the 15 years I’ve been with them. There’s always someone who can’t get into it. I put down Sue Monk Kidd’s book The Invention of Wings after reading several boring chapters. I loved one character, the other was one dimensional. Found out later I’m not alone in that criticism. It seemed like the author was in a rush to print.

    I haven’t been in any hurry in publishing my first. So many books I’ve read have been unpolished, had an unlikable protagonist or it was full of grammatical errors. My mantra? I don’t want to waste anyone’s time. When I get nasty reviews like everyone else it won’t be a big deal. I’ll look for thoughtful criticism and learn from it.

    I thought The Great Gatsby was boring when I read it in high school.

  2. I actually agree with all but the last review above. (I loved the one for Wuthering Heights.) Then again, it might be because they were poorly taught. Interesting, though, I love the movies based on all of them. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t try to brute-force my way through the books. I think I would have bought the Cliff’s Notes so I knew what was coming and to fill in the blanks on all the goofy crap English teachers expect us to get out of them. Then I would feel prepared to read them for pleasure.

  3. I’ve always loved these, Julie. But for those who feel like they really are boring (or thought that in high school), I think that’s in large part because they were written for a different time and audience. We no longer read aloud in the evenings as entertainment, and we no longer need detailed descriptions – when someone says “Hawaii” or “elephant,” we can picture exactly what they’re talking about. That said, I LOVE Where the Wild Things Are (read it first as a parent), and I could never get into Catcher in the Rye, even in college.

    Last week I picked up a copy of Writer’s Digest from the library. They have a back page feature where writers offer scathing, true-to-time-period rejection letters for classic novels. Fun!

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