LS: To read or not to read . . .
Do you really want to go there? or Why I don't put harsh reviews up on bookselling websites.
I remember when The Church Ladies released, my first women's fiction book, my first offering of "the real Lisa Samson." In fact, I had a tag-line back then (when I thought branding would help me--it didn't) "Real Fiction for Real Women." I think when Angie Hunt and I thought of it in a hotel in DC, we thought it might just skyrocket me to popularity! (Thanks anyway, Angie. It was still fun to brainstorm and the Pad Thai was great!) I was excited, loosed to write like myself, delve into situations that seemed important to me as a woman and as a Christian, to explore contemporary metaphor and setting.
Six years ago this March The Church Ladies hit the shelves to great reviews, healthy sales, wonderful emails from ladies all over the country, particularly pastor's wives who claimed I'd somehow crawled into their heads. Even those who'd had extra-marital affairs wrote to tell me the Lord used the book to allow them to forgive themselves and move on. God knew I needed all that. My mother was dying. I was caring for her. It was the most difficult time of my life.
A few months after the release, enter the Amazon reviewer. I don't read my Amazon/Christianbook.com/BN reviews anymore as my friends know, because as a person of words, (like a horribly violent scene in a movie or book) I can't get the words out of my head. The positive reviews aren't enough to offset the damage of the nasty ones. I don't remember the woman's name who wrote a long, scathing review of the book, but these two lines have followed me around like hecklers for six years now and I doubt they'll be leaving anytime soon.
"Samson is no wordsmith."
"She smears words around like a kindergartener smears fingerpaint."
Believe it or not, I haven't read that review in at least four years.
So I know firsthand what these reviews can do to a person. Don't misunderstand me. I can appreciate an honest review. Not everyone is going to like my work and it's fine to say that. It's the internet; we can say whatever we want. But know what you might be doing to that writer when you cross the line from critical to mean-spirited. Realize your words won't simply go further and further down on the Amazon reviews page, they may become the voice the deceiver uses to discourage and whisper words, sometimes, of debilitating doubt.
Or maybe that lady was right. Maybe I am no wordsmith, just a kindergartener smearing words like cheap paint.
See how it works?