The other day I asked someone to take a look at the cover of my book and tell me what they thought. Having spent over 30 years as a graphic designer and marketer, I am quite proud of it. I’ll be honest—I asked for her critique because I expected a rave review and I wanted to impress her.
This person proceeded to tear it apart and tell me what she didn’t like about it, which was just about everything. I knew enough not to respond, but it really cut deep. Her main criticism was that you couldn’t tell what the book was about. (Hey, what about the blurb above the title?) She also thought the photo was vintage 1950s, when I know for a fact the photo was taken around 1930. I am sure of that, because my father is the man in the middle of the picture.
So far she is the only person who didn’t rave about the cover. I had a few comments early on, but only things such as “make the point size bigger on the title.” Nothing substantial.
Her comments made me think about how you should respond to criticism. I don’t mean what you actually say in reply, but rather, how you internalize it. The goal is to turn it into something positive, even if it’s negative criticism.
Winston Churchill said, “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
Here’s a list of positive ways to handle negative criticism:
- Don’t take it personally.
- Toughen up.
- Don’t argue about it.
- Ask questions for clarification.
- Decide if their concerns are valid.
- Try to learn something from it, even if you don’t agree with it.
- Once you’ve digested the critique, let it go.
- Understand there’s a vast difference between fact and opinion.
You may be wondering what I was able to get out of her criticism. I decided the blurb on the front cover wasn’t strong enough and didn’t paint an accurate picture of what the book is about. I am in the process of rewriting it.
Continue to reach out for opinions of your work. After all, you’re the one who is ultimately going to benefit.book cover, criticism, design, wrting