Thick Skin With Every Word

Writing is so subjective.

We've all been through it! If you are anything like me, you've sent hundreds and hundreds of queries to agent and editors only to get the standard, "it didn't click with me," OR "it's not right for me, but someone else will like it."

Well. . .when you do decide what publishing route you want to take your career, indie or traditional, and when your novel is published, you still have to have thick skin!

1) First we decide to write the novel. Not only do we have to deal with telling people that we write, but we have to finish the novel and tell our families. Mostly our families are supportive but you know the eye rolls....the ones we get from friends or when someone asks what we do and we tell them, only for them to reply "are you published." When you say no, they scowl. THICK SKIN.

2) We enter contests, join critique groups/partner, send queries to agents/editors, AND we get our first (and definitely not only) eyes on our words other than your spouse/mother/friend/sibling. Then their words sting us with a little bit of criticism that tells us that we need to continue to work on our craft. THICK SKIN.

3) We decide to take the agent offer or self publish or editor offer and our novel has gone through the editing process. THICK SKIN.


4) REVIEWS....just when you thought you were through rubbing lotion on your body to begin to loosen the thick skin you've developed over the past years, you get a one star review.

What about those reviews? 
I think of reviews in terms of food. . .because I love to eat. . .

Coke vs Pepsi
Chocolate vs Dark Chocolate
McDonald vs Burger King
Fried Chicken vs Baked chicken

Here are my choices: Diet Coke, Dark Chocolate, McDonald, and Baked Chicken. 
I'm sure your choices are different than mine. (shhh. . .I was one of the few that couldn't finish a Twilight novel. . .)


I have my share of one star reviews and I soooooo bad wanted to respond to those one star reviews. I wanted to tell them that I love constructive criticism, but to give me a one star review because they don't like the genre and wanted to start with mine. . .well, that's not a true review.

It looks bad on the author to respond to those reviews. I know you want to go running and screaming to everyone you know that you got a bad review and begin to blast it all over the Internet and Facebook that you got a nasty review. . .DON'T!!! 

DON'T cling to every word, don't even read them. If you do, take everything they have written with a grain of salt and remember WRITING IS SUBJECTIVE, and you have gotten this far to get those reviews. If you must read them, read them and move on. Put all that negative energy into your current work-in-progress. OR if you are like me. . .kill someone;)

Wear them with pride! Most writers don't get as far as you. What's the odds of finishing a novel, much less getting it into reader's hands? 

Melville House has a great post on ways to look at negative reviews.

This is an example of what you NEVER want to get involved in. . .take time to read this! It took me off guard. This author got in a very public spat over a review and it didn't turn out pretty.....

If you never take anything away from my blog, do take this advice and run with it! DO NOT RESPOND TO NEGATIVE REVIEWS. 

Do you think you can promise me that???


  1. Hey, Tonya!

    I completely agree with this post - and it does help, I think, to remember that reviews and contests and such are truly subjective.

    I remember that once I submitted 10 pages of a new novel to a contest, and as part of the contest, two judges would offer comments, ratings and a final review.

    The first judge gave me threes and fours (out of a possible 10). She even scored me low on spelling and grammar, and I'm actually pretty solid on that front!! Her one comment: "Use a different font."

    The second judge gave me all nines. Her comment? "I love this!! I would buy this!!"

    So what did I learn? I pretty much learned about reviewer subjectivity. Oh - and to check my font. : )

    1. I LOVE that, Diane! I use to enter all those contests too UNTIL I became a judge and realized that I was judging based on what I liked to read. That is when it hit me that ONE, I would never enter a contest again and TWO, writing is so subjective. Check my font. . .Hhahahahaa!!

  2. This is so true! Every word. I consider my first one-star reviews a "badge of honor" for publishing.

    My favorite editor experience: (paraphrasing here) "I never read SF but with this first chapter, I want to read the whole book! Sorry, but my house would never buy it." (She was chairing a chapter review at a conference.) That was the story of my life before indie publishing. I plan to offer that novel as well, hopefully this year.

    Thick skin indeed! Such excellent advice. :-)

    1. I look forward to that novel, Regina! Let me know when it's out!

  3. Yes, yes, yes! Do not respond to negative reviews ever. People are entitled to their opinions, however hurtful that they may be to an author, personally. It can be difficult, but I recommend re-reading your five and four star reviews, for support, and then moving on with your life. It's just a review.

    1. Moving on with your life is so true! I love that your read and re-read your four and five star reviews to help. Great advice.

  4. Yes'm, I promise to develop thick rhino skin and not slap the doo doo out of negative reviewers. Great blog, Tonya. And thanks for the links.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! You put a smile on my face.

  5. Thank you Tonya!
    I'm not at the publishing stage yet... but I just received a half dozen strong critiques from my beta group. I tell you... 11 yr old kids are tough! They love the story... but it needs work. Incredible feedback!

    Anyway, I've got my thick skin on and I'm ready for whatever comes my way.
    Thank you again!

    PS - I never made it through Twilight either.

    1. Marilyn, you are after my heart with the Twilight thing....just didn't get it. WOW! kids are tough. You are a brave woman!

  6. Excellent advice ... on all fronts. Thanks, Tonya.

  7. True, I don't respond to negative reviews and if I can help it, I try to avoid responding to anything negative. Even with a positive outlook, often times any response to something negative online will only result in more negativity. Arguing online is like talking to a brick wall. Or perhaps, crashing into a brick wall.

    However, I usually find that the one to two star reviews (other than the troll ones) are simply as you said. People just have different tastes. Which doesn't mean that they're against your nor does it mean that they're a bad reviewer. It just means that they were looking for something different than what you had to offer.

    Love this post btw. One of your best from this blog. Hopefully this doesn't come off as Schadenfreude but it makes me feel relieved that I'm not the only one who comes across this from time to time.

    1. YUCK to the trolls!!!! I had a few of those when I took advantage of the free KDP promo. Those aren't my buyers/reader so I won't be doing that again. We will all receive nasty comments every once in while.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Andrew!!

  8. Tonya, nice post. It's hard to not look at reviews, but yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Just think of it this way, a reader got passionate enough to post a review.

    Thick skin and blind eyes and the motto, "Do not fret about things you cannot control."

    1. I agree that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but sometimes they are just nasty. Love your motto!


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