Guest Posts

Guest Blog Post by Author Ben Burgess, Jr ~ Hurts Don’t It

benburgess2As an author, I feel the greatest joy we can have is reading the review of a person that has completely understood the message that we have tried to convey with our book. To see that the hard work that you put into your writing is appreciated is a feeling that is euphoric. While it is great to have that positive review the truth is, not everyone will get the points or view your book the same way. It is inevitable; we will all receive a negative review at some point.

I remember my first negative review. I was excited and happy that I produced a book that people were really enjoying. I saw lots of positive comments and reviews, and I felt like I was on top of the world. Then that nasty review came, the dreaded 1 star review on Goodreads. I felt as if I was punched in the chest. There was no comment, or statements, just the rating. I had so many questions. I wanted to know what they hated so much about the book, and was it so bad that it deserved 1 star? It took everything in me not to personally message the person (*NOTE: NEVER EVER MESSAGE A PERSON ABOUT A REVIEW!!! Take it on the chin). Everyone is entitled to their opinion. The truth is there are different strokes for different folks.

As time went on, my book continued to do well. I was pleased with the feedback I was getting, but then I received another review. This review wasn’t terrible, but the review expressed that they just weren’t feeling it. They hated my characters. They thought my story was boring. You name it, they hated it. When you receive a harsh review like that, you feel like the person is “Calling your baby ugly.” Every book I write is a reflection of me. My first novel is an even bigger reflection because it was based off my life and experiences.

How do you deal with the stress of handling a negative review? There is no direct answer to that. Like reviewers, who have different opinions, monsterauthors have different ways that we handle stress. For me, I do a variety of things. I vent to friends (God bless those who I am close to that have to put up with my venting. If you’re reading this, I really appreciate you guys. You have no idea!) Next, I push my pride aside and try to pull out of their review anything constructive that I can use to improve my writing style. In our minds, we might feel that we are the next Hemingway, but everyone can stand improvement and as an author I feel we should always strive to evolve. We can’t let our pride blind us. Next, I try to let it go. When it comes down to it, the review is there. It happened, and there is nothing we can do about it. It’s not going to change. While it hurts, and stings, dwelling on it will only drive us crazy. Lastly, I continue to write. While a big part of me writes for the enjoyment of entertaining people, the most important reason and the basis for my writing is that I write for ME! I write because it makes me happy. It’s my stress relief and to allow someone to discourage me from doing something I love to do is to admit defeat. I’m not a quitter and I hope that any writer, author, or aspiring author who is reading this blog feels the same way about themselves.

People will look at your book in different ways. Some people will see it how you intended it to be seen, some will not. For some your book will mean the world to them, for others it will be perfect for leveling a table or stopping a door. While we have no control over how people will receive our books, we do have control over how we handle negative reviews. Remember this anagram K.I.M –G.O.I (Keep it moving – Get over it)

benburgessAbout the Author

Ben Burgess, Jr is the author of the new novel Monster and the author of the poetry book Times Have Changed and Life is Strange. He is an active performer of spoken word poetry. Ben Burgess, Jr uses his love of writing to inspire and influence youths to strive for what they believe in, and to never give up on their dreams.

His poetry book Times Have Changed and Life is Strange is currently used in two schools in the lower east side of Manhattan. Ben Burgess has a BA degree in Business Management, and a MA degree in Educational Leadership.

He is the proud father of his daughter Jaelynn and is active in trying to improve urban neighborhoods and communities.

Link-Up with Ben:
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3 thoughts on “Guest Blog Post by Author Ben Burgess, Jr ~ Hurts Don’t It

  1. Ken,
    I have not read your book, but I follow Savannah Mae and your guest blog post caught my eye. I am not an author and think that what authors (and other creative people) do is amazing. You put your blood, sweat, tears and soul into your work, then open yourselves up for criticism. It takes thick skin and brass cojones, man. I couldn’t do it. I’d be tempted to shoot first, ask questions, later. Or never, actually.

    I am a reader and fan of books, first. I wouldn’t even call myself a “reviewer,” because I only write reviews on books that have spoken to me on a personal level. In fact, many “reviews” I have read are not reviews of the work, at all. They read more like book reports: a) summary of plot, b) it was good/bad/ugly, and/or c) this author is awesome/terrible/needs a dictionary. Very rarely do I read about how the book touched the person on a deeper level, or failed to.

    I don’t write “bad” reviews. Like the person who gave you the dreaded 1-star, I leave NOTHING in the comments section. This is simply to protect myself. I am thick-skinned, but don’t want to receive a million “you suck” spam messages, due to my opinion. I have however, responded twice, when authors contacted me personally to ASK my opinion. One asked me to beta-read her future books, because I was able to articulate EXACTLY what worked and didn’t work for me, as a reader.

    Conversely, I was very surprised when several authors sent me personal messages after reading my positive reviews of their work. I figured, “they’ve got 50+ great reviews, mine will just slip right in.” I was floored to receive a thank you note from each of them. Completely unexpected, because again, I’m NOT a “reviewer.”

    Every author will receive bad reviews (or should). That is a GOOD thing. It means that people are reading your work. It also means there is room for improvement, or to expand your fan base, OR really focus on those characters, worlds and plot lines that YOU want to work on. Reviews that carry on about how wonderful the book is, or how the book is the worst thing ever, should be considered outliers. I think the “truth” lies somewhere in the middle, in the “B+” to “C-” range (“I liked it to “It was ok”). Sure there are some good books out there, but are they Orwell’s “1984,” Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451,” Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” or Shakespeare? Probably not. Nor should they be.

    I think your anagram should be printed in bold letters and given to each aspiring, struggling, successful and/or frustrated author – K.I.M.-G.O.I., indeed! It’s a jungle out there and I applaud you for getting your machete out and slicing your way through it.


    • Michelle, I love your response to this blog. It’s genuine, it’s honest, and it’s something that people need to follow. I think the message that we all have to learn is that our books aren’t for everyone. I Skyped with a group today about my book with 14 women in Detroit. 13 of the women loved it and ranted and raved about it, but one of them thought it was merely ok. While it does sting a little, It’s ok. She was being honest and I have to accept that. It takes getting used to because deep down we want everyone to love our work, but K.I.M G.O.I.

      • Ben,
        Any man who can get a group of 13 out of 14 women to agree on ANYTHING is doing something RIGHT!! That’s 92%, keep on writing! 🙂

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