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GUEST POST! Learning to Deal with Criticism by Kim Wright, author of Love in Mid Air

Learrning to Deal with Criticism

By Kim Wright, author of “Love in Mid Air”

One of the reasons that bringing out a book is so emotionally intense for a writer is that they’re suddenly gobsmacked with a huge bunch of feedback.  Think about it.  Writers spend most of their lives alone, wearing stretched out sweatpants and walking through their houses muttering to themselves.  For years their books live solely inside their own heads and the only people who read them are a carefully-selected circle of friends and first readers.
Then whammo, the book is out.  There are reviews on Amazon, on Goodreads, in your local paper.  Strangers think they know you and people who do know you suddenly feel they know you better.  They flag you down in the grocery story to tell you just what they thought of that sex scene on page 145.
It’s an amazing change and it sends most writers into a state of shock.  I always say that writing is a weird job.  You have to be sensitive to do it, but if you’re too sensitive, it will kill you.  
Which is why I think it’s smart for writers to develop a strategy toward feedback and critiques before their books even come out.  Most writers go with one of five basic approaches.

1.    They ignore the praise, and focus exclusively on that one person in Duluth, Minnesota who apparently hates them because she gave them one Amazon star and called their work “trite.”
2.    They strap into a metaphorical roller coaster – reading everything and emotionally soaring with every scrap of praise and crashing with every criticism.  In effect, they believe everything that’s said about them to the degree that the feedback colors their next book.  They can’t stop analyzing the reviews in a frantic attempt to “give the reader what she wants.”
3.    They put their fingers in the ears and sing loudly.  Some writers attempt to utterly ignore any feedback, instructing agents and editors to keep all reviews, both good and bad, out of sight.  I can only assume they have their groceries delivered.
4.     They look at all critiques calmly, separate the thoughtful observations from the ridiculous, and try to learn from them.  Good for you if you can do this.  You probably also practice portion control in your diet, shun gossip, have a perfectly organized closet, and I hate you.   So yeah, this is undoubtedly the right approach but, according to my highly nonscientific survey, only .0001% of writers can actually pull it off.
5.     The only thing that’s really left is trying to compartmentalize the feedback so that you acknowledge it without letting it overrun your whole life.  Some writers pull a Scarlett O’Hara, declaring they’ll think about all that tomorrow, stepping away from their computers and instructing their editors to send them the editorial reviews at some point in the future when the initial wave of post-publication paranoia has passed and they have a better shot of pulling off method 4.  Others do the exact opposite, figuring they will be promoting the book intensely for a set period after its release – usually three months – and that this promotion means they’ll inevitably encounter some feedback.  They pick a set date in the future in which they’ll disconnect from all the promotion and step back to begin their next project.  And still others split it up by the week or the day.  I write new material in the morning and deal with promotion and publicity in the afternoon.  I know a writer who is very public, businesslike, and accessible through the week and hides away on weekends to binge write alone.
No matter which way you go, it’s smart to think about these things in advance and come up with some sort of strategy – even while understanding that you may have to adjust that strategy once the book is out and things are getting really real.  A lot of writers think they won’t be affected and are surprised by how much critiques hurt.  Other are sure they’ll faint at the first bad review but soldier through relatively unscathed.  So you can never predict exactly how you’ll react, but accepting, processing and – when appropriate – learning from criticism is a large part of what it means to be a writer.  

Be sure to pick up Kim's book, now in paperback!


A chance encounter with a stranger on an airplane sends Elyse Bearden into an emotional tailspin. Suddenly Elyse is willing to risk everything: her safe but stale marriage, her seemingly perfect life in an affluent Southern suburb, and her position in the community. She finds herself cutting through all the instincts that say "no" and instead lets "yes" happen. As Elyse embarks on a risky affair, her longtime friend Kelly and the other women in their book club begin to question their own decisions about love, sex, marriage, and freedom. There are consequences for Elyse, her family, and her circle of close friends, all of whom have an investment in her life continuing as normal. But is normal what she really wants after all? In the end it will take an extraordinary leap of faith for Elyse to find--and follow--her own path to happiness.

An intelligent, sexy, absorbing tale and an honest look at modern-day marriage, Love in Mid Air offers the experience of what it's like to change the course of one's own destiny when finding oneself caught in mid air.

About the Author

Kim Wright has been writing about travel, food, and wine for more than twenty years for many magazines including Wine Spectator, Self, Travel & Leisure, and Vogue, and has twice won the Lowell Thomas Award for travel writing. She is the food and wine editor for Charlotte Taste. She has written the annual Fodor's Walt Disney World with Kids for 18 years and also writes erotica. This is her first novel. Kim lives in Charlotte, NC.


  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (July 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446540439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446540438


  1. It's never easy to receive criticism, I'm assuming when it's posted to an extremely popular website and can affect the next person's order, it's got to be rough.

  2. Very useful post. If you're a new writer, the critism can be somewhat hard to take especially if it's not great. But, as we know, it's generally constructive and a means to improve, which is something we all have room for.

    I view a lot of critism as personal opinions; a manuscript that might work for one editor/agent/publisher, won't work for another. I guess people who can't take the critism, constructive or otherwise, should consider a different line of work.

    CJ xx


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