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How Not to Respond to Criticism

Now, I am an amateur writer. As of yet I've had nothing professionally published, but I have published some writing online in the past so I'm no stranger to criticism. Most of the feedback I get is good, but some is well…not so good. And I'm comfortable with that, since most of the criticism I've gotten has been constructive and actually brought up good points on how to improve my work. The best way to handle someone who gives a bad review of something you wrote (or something you created in any creative medium in general) is look at their complaints, see if they have any good points (most of them usually have one or two), and see if its anything you can improve upon in the future.

A bad way to respond to criticism in general, especially if you're a published author, is to actually respond to bad criticism. A worse way to respond to bad criticism is to respond to a bad review in an angry manner then threaten to call the freaking FBI when people tell you you shouldn't have responded in such a way to a bad review. This is what I like to call a Bad Idea.

Now you might think something like that wouldn't happen, that most authors are smart enough not to do that. And true, most authors are. But not all. That article details such an instance where an author named Candace Sams responded to reviews on Amazon.com very angrily to the point of saying she would call the FBI. Because people said they didn't like her book. I'm…pretty sure the FBI has like…better things to do than listen to people complain about bad reviews. The links to the responses in question are in the article and they are an…interesting read to say the least.

That article was brought to my attention courtesy of sci-fi author/online snark messiah John Scalzi and also Neil Gaiman. (Also, just a reminder, if you ever do something that's such a Bad Idea that even Neil Gaiman says "Wow, that's a Bad Idea," trust me…you've got a Bad Idea right there. You might even say at that point it would be a Very Bad Idea).

Just wanted to put that out there for anyone whose ran into bad criticism before and show you that you should never ever ever ever ever do something like this. Ever. Ever. Look, nobody really likes it when someone doesn't like their work, but like I said, the best way to handle bad criticism is just to learn from it. You should never respond to it because every person is entitled to their opinion, and you should definitely never respond angrily, even if you think the review might not be fair. It will just make you look like a jerk or like a crazy person. Sure this is a bit of a trainwreck, but every person has the potential to do something like this if they lose their cool and choose to do the Bad Idea of responding to criticism (well, maybe everyone wouldn't say they'd call the FBI, but still). Just remember if you ever have an urge to do something like this, resist that urge. Just read the review, see if there's any constructive criticism worth taking away from it (like I said, there usually is), and walk away. If you forget that, you may open yourself up to potentially doing something like this.

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