Getting published–and reviewed–changed me. In the beginning, way back in March 2001 when I had my first Harlequin Presents published, the bad reviews floored me. I felt humiliated in a very public way. The Romantic Times and Amazon reviews haunted me, playing through my head endlessly. It took me 15 years to sell that first book and I had been so excited to have it come out only to have it shredded. Of course, looking back I see now I should have expected it. People like to voice their opinion. And for some people, voicing their opinion strongly feels good. Makes them feel powerful. But I was naive, and didn’t expect it, and those nasty comments hurt. For a long time.
The negative reviews continued for my first three books and without meaning to, my stories changed. My voice changed. I held back. I grew careful, even protective. It hurt taking pot-shots in a public venue and I wanted to please people. I wanted everyone to like my stories. I wanted them to like me. Instead, I lost some of my readers when my stories changed. I gained some readers, too, but I did keep writing and gradually I found my footing again, as well as some confidence. Not huge confidence. But enough.
Move forward three and a half years and I needed a break from writing romance so I wrote my first draft of a new story, a story I thought of as chick-lit but chick-lit done my way. The story sold to Warner Books and was published as The Frog Prince in May 2005. There were lots of good reviews. And there were lots of bad reviews. And what some people criticized most, was the very thing others cherished. It was then that I had an epiphany: I couldn’t please everyone. I wasn’t going to be able to please everyone. More so, I shouldn’t want to please everyone. This epiphany made me a stronger person. And a much better writer.
Now when I write I never worry about those who toss out the one stars and two stars, or those who are disappointed, or those who use words like “ick” and “icky” in reviews because I need those readers as much as the readers who email me to say my story made them laugh, or cry, or both. I write for those who need me. Whoever they are. Where ever they are. I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: I write for the women who would be my friend in ‘real life’, who’d have coffee with me and tell me about their lives and I’d tell them about mine. We’d laugh about the kids and husbands, groan over the kids and husbands, and ultimately feel good that we’re loved and not alone.
You see, my books are a chance for me to say to each and every reader: you matter. You’re important. You deserve a wonderful life. And if it doesn’t come through? If my stories or message doesn’t work for you? That’s okay. That’s good. There are millions of other books out for the readers who want something else. Heck, that’s what the publishing industry is all about. With that said, if you are one of the readers that like my books, and if you are comfortable posting reviews, please head to Amazon or Barnes & Noble.com and let others know your opinions. Every opinion counts and I believe strongly in countering the negative with positive, so if you do get a review posted, let me know and I’ll send you a small gift as a token of my appreciation. I’ve ordered a bunch of fun Jane Porter water bottles perfect for the beach, the gym, the car, or a tote bag and I’d love to send you one as a thank you for supporting me because your support is hugely appreciated. Your support is why I keep writing.
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Jane, I can so relate to this! I’ve had bad reviews on Amazon and RT–those dreaded one and two star reviews with pithy remarks like ‘just plain dumb’ that leave me feeling absolutely wrecked. And somehow, in my head and heart, the bad reviews matter more than the good reviews. I rationalise the good reviews and make them less somehow. But I’ve also learned from bad reviews. I’ve realized that I’ve made some choices with my first books that I probably won’t with later books. And in the end, I’m still trying to learn to stop caring so much! I just finished The Sheikh’s Chosen Queen and will head over to Amazon now… 🙂
I’m not yet published and have often wondered what my reaction would be when negative reviews fly my way. And the will. It seems people would rather say bad things then nice to empower them. Myself. If i don’t have anything good to say about a book, I simply don’t say it. I have friends who love a book, where I don’t or I love it and they don’t. Its very subjective personal. It can be the same in critique groups. I’ve been involved in them were one person completes tears apart the other members, but when its time for their pages to be critique it becomes very personal, and the aren’t willing to listen. And usually there the very person who will give a painful negative review. I often remind my writer friends, regardless of if you like the book or not, they’re published, which means they must be doing something more right then us.
Oops forgive all the typoes, my grandson is running a muck and distracting me.
I am a fan and your books have not only entertained me but have HELPED me. I read Flirting right when I turned 40 and it validated me. I read Mrs. Perfect a couple months ago when we were going thru a tough transition and money was a tight. I actually got some great ideas from that book and it also eased my fears about some things.
Jane, your books speak to me and I LOVE them. No review can ever take that away from me.
Jane, you are the only author whose books make me cry, and that’s a good thing. You have a gift for reaching inside yourself, pulling out the things that hurt and helping us all take a look at them. After all, the same things that hurt you are the things that all women struggle with — does love last? What happens when it doesn’t? Could there ever be enough hours in the day to get it all done? We don’t have children, but I can’t even imagine what it must be like to walk around with my heart outside my body, which is the description I’ve read somewhere else about the life of a mother.
As you’ve said before, you’ve loved, you’ve lost, and you will love again. I can’t understand how anyone can give a one or two star review to any woman that makes us think about our daily lives with her work.
When my best friend of 33 years recommended Flirting with Forty, I became hooked on your writing. You mentioned in your message that you write for women who would be your “friend in real life”, those words are so true. While reading Flirting with Forty, I felt like you were my friend. I could relate to you, the author, and the characters. Since reading Flirting, I have read your other “chick lit” literature and anxiously await the next.
Jane, when Kari first turing me on to Flirting with Forty, I read it and was hooked on your writing! You are very talented and I always relate to your book on some level and I feel like you are personally talking to me! Thank you!!!
I heard about your book when I found out that Heather Locklear was making a movie out of Flirting w/Forty. I rushed to Borders and bought the book! Good you imagine, they only had one on the bookshelf and boy did I rushed over and grabbed it before someone swiped it!!! LOL. It was my lucky day. Now I can’t seem to put the book down. What an awesome story. (sigh) You definitely captured my attention, dreaming of Kai. (sigh). Thank you Jane.
Jane, I’ve heard other authors say this too–that you can’t please everyone–don’t even try. A Bestselling author we all know once said in a workshop –when someone asked her–what do you wish you’d known back then before you were pubbed. And that was it. Not trying to please everyone–it’s impossible. She said that was the most liberating thing ever. And I can see how that’s true.
And here you are saying the same.
I have ALWAYS been a fan of yours and always will be. I love your honesty, your ability to reach in and touch the reader. A woman can read your books and feel like your best friend! And I happen to think it’s best to have someone really love your work, or even feel strongly the other direction, then to be middle of the road. Proves that you make that connection. Yeah for you!
I LOVE your books! I can relate to the stories and hate for them to end. Flirting With Forty made me want to jump on a plane back to Maui.
Keep on writting and sharing your gift.
I LOVED Odd Mom Out. I’m not usually a “chick lit” kind of girl, but I thoroughly enjoyed the ride and can’t wait to read Mrs. Perfect (ran to the store to pick it up before I even finished Odd Mom Out). Even though I’m happily married and a stay-at-home mom, I connected with Marta and her disgust over the alpha moms. I know them, I see them at school, and I dread those encounters each and every time. What a treat to get a laugh about them! Keep ’em coming!