First in a series
I know a lot of people who worry about writing, or creating something for fear of haters, and online toxicity. As someone who still has haters chasing him around from work he did over 20 years ago I can tell you from long, long experience: let it go. It’s meaningless.
I’ve had an amazing career. And it started with a lot of hatred.
King of The Hill, Simpsons, X-Men, Superman, Steven Universe, Croods, Rocky and Bullwinkle, She-Ra… I could go on and on. I’ve won awards, been nominated for a lot more, and get letters routinely from people grateful for what I’ve created—either myself, or helped others to create. And it’s far from over.
Yet still I get haters. They will never go away.
My first novel has a heady mix of love and hate in the reviews. But here’s the thing:
You create haters on the first project… and if it’s your own creation, rather quickly the haters go away. One author I know of calls the first book “your sacrificial lamb.” You send it out to be slaughtered, but the people who appreciated it—liked it—even loved it—come back for the next. And the next. And the reviews become only more positive as you find and build your audience, and the haters move on to hate something else.
There’s a phenomenon that reviewers often complain about. I’m sure you’ve seen it. “Oh, I read all the positive reviews here, and thought I’d give it a try, but it sucked. I should have paid more attention to the negative reviews.” But this is ‘creative natural selection’ at it’s most basic. People tried the first one, and the haters died away, leaving… that’s right. Only the appreciators.
So the positive reviews weren’t ‘wrong.’ The negative reviews weren’t ‘right.’ It’s personal taste. Natural selection. Everyone finding the thing that they like, that others may not.
I didn’t enjoy Twilight. I didn’t write a negative review, though I could have. Instead I voted with my feet, and didn’t buy the second one. I was not its audience. Didn’t hurt that book in the least. And neither would a negative review. The people who love it, love it. The first book in the Left Behind series left me cold, and got the same response from me. Also not my thing. So I never read—or reviewed—another.
Your work will do the same. It can—and I’d argue will—find its audience. But the first one will get slaughtered.
Doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do another. Maybe after five books—all with negative reviews—you should rethink. Study the craft. Adjust. But even then; don’t give up.
Accept that you absolutely will get online toxicity. Then let it go. Find your devoted audience. They’re out there. They will find you.
Take it from someone who was once called “the Most Hated Writer in Comics” and now gets five star reviews all over the place. Including Edgeworld #9, on sale now at ComiXology.
NEXT: Once you understand finding your audience, I’ll help you understand why you should always create your own ideas, and never, never, never work on someone else’s property. Except to be paid for learning your craft.