Updated: Jun 5, 2020
I was talking with an author friend of mine who's recently jumped into the eBook market. Her work is outstanding. Our conversation eventually turned to comments and reviews, specifically online reviews. She was bothered by a particularly ugly comment left by some pompous jerk with nothing constructive to say. I commiserated with her and mentioned that anytime I'm feeling a little cocky or too full of myself I head on over to YouTube and read my reviews. There's always a few over there that'll shake you up and leave you questioning the future for humanity.
For the most part, people online are amazing. They cheer you on, say wonderful things about your work and make you feel great. It's really gratifying to see your hard work actually appreciated by someone other than your mom or your grandma. The problem is sooner or later some jerk comes along and sticks his finger in the cake. But is that really the problem? Or is the problem that we focus way too much attention on the jerks. I mean let's face it small-minded people will say hateful things. Do we really need to listen? Do we need to even pay attention? The first time I received an ugly review like that it really upset me. I deleted it and then spent WAY too much time thinking about it. It even made me second guess myself the next time I wanted to post something. I knew there was nothing constructive about it but for some reason, it stuck with me and I obsessed over it.
I mentioned the comment to a friend of mine who gave me some great advice. When I asked him what I should do or how to respond he told me simply not to do anything. Just to leave it and watch what happens. I wasn't thrilled with the idea of leaving something like that in my comment section and I let him know it but he laughed and told me again to just watch.
True to the Youtube comment section's nature it didn't take long for some other jerk to crawl out of the slime and leave another steaming pile of horse manure in my comment section. This time against my better judgment I left it in there just as my friend had advised. I decided to give it a day, if nothing happened I would delete it just like last time. I closed the browser and came back a few hours later. Someone had posted a comment calling this guy out for the jerk he was, and then another. Eventually, the nasty comment was buried by friendly support. My faith in humanity was restored but more importantly, I realized that focusing any energy at all on a loathsome review was completely pointless. I had a roomful of viewers who were kind, supportive AND actually took the time to leave friendly, encouraging reviews. Why in the world would I not focus my energy there?
If you're on the fence about posting your art because you're worried about dealing with the occasional nasty comment I'm not here to sugar coat it. It's going to happen. Will it sting? Yeah, probably... but the way I see it you have a choice. You can either listen to one voice telling you you're worthless or you can listen to a roomful of people who stand behind you and can't wait to see you succeed. I don't know about you but the choice seems pretty obvious to me.
On a side note. Since the time I originally wrote this article, I've found something interesting. An empty or unattended post often draws the most flies. In other words, by being present and participating in whatever you post, comment on, add dialog, etc., you will gain more support and experience less negative feedback. People who leave comments are hoping for you to engage with them so take a little time and engage the rewards are immeasurable.