As authors, we put our work “out there.” Not everyone likes it, anymore than not everyone we meet will like us either, or we them. But I think it’s important that we pay attention to readers’ criticisms. We can learn a lot from them.
My book, The Poisoned Pawn, was recently panned on one of the discussion threads on the Absolute Write Water Cooler, an online chatroom that I belong to. (The person who read it felt strongly enough about it to start a new thread!)
The criticism levied against it (that it’s an info-dump) spawned a very interesting discussion in which a number of authors talked about the differences between info-dumping and exposition, and how we sometimes overdo it.
We’re often advised as authors that we shouldn’t to respond to a negative review, but I thought that as the author whose book was on the table, I should maybe introduce myself.
Have a look at what happened. (Click on the image to enlarge it.) These are extracts: there were lots of other comments before and after each one, as you can see by the numbers in the upper right corner. It was an informative exchange about the challenge of writing for different audiences and how important it is not to turn readers off.
I think the more important lesson here, though, is that when people are critical of your work, you don’t have to stay out of the discussion: there are ways to respond that can make the whole experience pretty positive.
(If you belong to AW, you can follow the entire discussion about info-dumping right here.)