Sometimes writers can take criticism much too seriously.
The problem often comes into play when we listen too much to others. I have a friend who has let other people dictate how she feels about her own work. She was truly bummed out over something she had no control over: others’ opinions. These opinions happen to be from those in a very small niche group who idolize a certain storytelling technique. If you don’t fit that exact technique, you don’t fit in, and they will not approve of you. So is it really “her” work that is inferior? No. Her work just happens not to fit their mold.
We will have moments when we don’t feel like we’re good enough. No matter how well you sell or how many people enjoyed your books, that little nagging doubt can creep in. And yes, harsh words about our work does hurt. We’re human. Over time, you do get thicker skin, but that skin needs to develop in order to be effective. I’m afraid there’s no shortcuts to it.
Today, I’d like to encourage you to not take your critics too seriously. Do they have a valid point? Maybe. If your fans agree with them on a certain point, then it’s something to look into. But if not, I would dismiss it. Oftentimes, when someone doesn’t like your work, it’s because they don’t like the way a certain character is or the fact that your book was too “sexy” or “violent” for their tastes.
One author I know got criticized because her villain had red hair and was overweight. The reviewer happened to look just like the villain, and this person felt offended that red haired, overweight people were portrayed as being evil. Now, the author didn’t know this person. So how was the author to know a real person who looked similar to the villain was going to read her book and think, “This author is making fun of me”? The answer is: the author couldn’t know this. Sometimes people will hate your book for reasons you can’t predict. It just happens.
Most of the time when someone criticizes your work, it says a lot more about the critic than the quality of your story. People have their biases when they go into a book. You can’t control what those biases are. You can’t cater your story to every single person on the planet, either. You will have to cater directly to your fans. This is why social networking is key. Get to know your fans. Find out why they like about your work, and do more of it. Don’t let those outside your fanbase deter you from doing that which has pleased your fans for so long.
As for typos and grammatical mistakes… We’re human. Even though I have editors and beta readers and go over the book myself, things still get missed. Even traditionally published books aren’t perfect. Sure, fix the typos and errors when you become aware of them, but don’t obsess over them. Do your best to polish it up, put your book up, and write the next one.
Since so many factors are out of our control, I hope next time someone criticizes you, you’ll remember not to take them too seriously. Consider the source of the criticism. Then surround yourself by your fans and remember “why” they love your work.