I've been unreasonably fortunate so far -- unless I've suppressed a memory, I haven't gotten any truly negative comments/reviews on my published work so far. I'm well aware that a large part of this track record, though, is that my readership is rather small. I'm certain that I'll end up facing negative comments on future stories in one form or another. And though I can imagine it might cause me a bit of angst, particularly the first few times I encounter that, I intend to do my best to not let negative reviews get me down.
Here are some of the things that I'll try to remember when the day arrives where I first am faced with someone who publicly says they really didn't care for something I had written.
- Everyone likes different things in fiction. There simply aren't going to be any universally-liked stories. Different people take different things from each story that is published. For that matter, even a single individual might react differently to a story on one day than they would if they read the same story on a different day, in a different mood, having read a different set of other stories recently.
- It's not personal. This one's a bit harder, especially since there are times when -- for a writer -- a story is very personal to them. There are certainly some stories of mine that I have more of an emotional investment in than others. I suspect that it will be harder to read negative comments of those stories than of others. But as far as the criticism being given, that is not personal. The reviewer isn't saying that they don't like you; just that they didn't like the story which you had written. And if the comments that they leave are personal -- calling you, the writer, out rather than your story -- then I think it's somewhat reasonable to presume that they weren't made with good intentions. The best thing I can think of there is to put it out of your mind. While a negative comment about a story would have the potential to help you improve your craft for future stories, a negative comment about you can't do any good.
- If you have to vent about it, do so privately. I don't think much looks worse for a writer than to complain about negative reviews. If you really have to grumble and get it off your chest, do so in a private conversation with friends, not in a public forum. And remember, that just about everywhere on the Internet is a public forum.
I hope that everyone has a great writing weekend and that all your reviews are positive!