“Don’t read the reviews,” they said.
Well, don’t read the negative ones, that is.
Every author I know has had the same advice for me: don’t read the reviews.
And they’re right. Especially if you’re a memoirist.
As my friend Amy B Scher says, “A memoir isn’t a dialogue.” It’s my messy, wonderful, embarrassing-at-times, joyous, hard AF-at-times life splayed out for all to read. Don’t get me wrong, I chose this. I knew what I was getting into when I signed the publishing deal. I'm no stranger to criticism and I welcome it when it's constructive. During the airing of my Shark Tank pitch, people came out in droves to pick apart my company, my appearance, and my family, so I had first-hand experience with what it’s like to contend with the public. A few naysayers even said that they didn’t believe I was the one building the furniture. And that was back in 2011 when social media was still fairly new and trolls wore training wheels. Today, hating and trolling from behind a keyboard is so widespread it could be an Olympic sport.
Some say that it’s not my business what readers think of Little Voices, and I get that. As Don Miguel Ruiz writes in The Four Agreements, “Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds.”
Perception is reality, right? I constantly remind myself that every person reads Little Voices through their own filter or lens—a lens made from their experiences, heartaches, and unconscious biases.
Still, I must confess, not reading the reviews has been harder than I thought. I had this epiphany today. Mediumship relies on validation and proof, so it’s ingrained in me to look to feedback for validation that what I’m channeling is helpful and correct. It's all about reviews in the mediumship world.
It’s hard not to look at negative reviews.
When I do slip up, I regret it. Some start with, “because it’s a memoir, I don’t want to pick it apart, BUT….” The “buts” are doozies, as you can imagine. One even stated that she thought I was making it all up. I scratched my head on that one, especially because a decorated NYPD detective wrote the foreword for my book. Don’t get me wrong, some points are completely valid. Despite everyone’s best efforts (editing team, copy editor, agent, and me), a few typos still went to press.
A few reviewers have been angry at me for not sharing more about the Carrie case. I do want to address this one because it's important. I think we’re all so used to seeing horrendous cases detailed and solved on TV’s SVU and CSI that we expect more detail about real life stuff. We want to know every detail forgetting that sharing details might hinder cases or bring harm to others. In the case of Carrie and many others I have not detailed nor will ever talk about publicly, there are dangerous networks of people who wouldn’t think twice about targeting me and my family. It’s why I changed names, locations, etc. I’ve been warned about this by numerous law enforcement officers, some who’ve seen their own families and partners targeted and killed. That’s how serious this is. I’ve even had to tell numerous tv producers and agents the same thing, and I’m more than okay with that. Nothing—not a bad review or a pass from a producer—is worth the risk. Most of what I work on you will never hear about.
Back to my point about reading reviews…
After I stupidly scanned the latest negative review, I swore I’d never look at another one again. And I won’t. Then I went to my bedside table, and I pulled out a card that I cherish. It’s from Nate’s parents, Denise and John. (If you’ve read Little Voices, you’ll know Nate, John, and Denise.) It reads:
We are so very proud of you & all you have accomplished. You have given Nate a voice & we love you for it. Always remember to ignore the voices that say “you can’t” and listen to the little voices telling you “you can”!
John and Denise, Nate’s mom and dad forever
There is wisdom and comfort in their note. Ignore the voices that say you can’t…or negative reviews that say you suck…and keep on keeping on.
P.S. Seriously, don’t look at the f’ing negative reviews. (This is a reminder for me, too.)