Bad Critic - How do you deal with it?

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Bad Critic - How do you deal with it?

Post by Lilien on Sat Mar 30, 2013 7:34 pm

I know I am not really in same category with you guys. But my work mostly is related with creating the art for books. I think that book cover should reflect what is inside of the book and is big part of the book itself.

So what happens when you get bad critic of your work? How do you react, how do you feel? Does bad critic makes you feel bad? Insecure? Makes you wish work harder? Or do you simply in some cases trow away bad critic as just an opinion and keep the good critic the one that counts?

One of the covers I did which received a lot of praise along the book itself got one critic over at Goodreads which didn't directly said that the cover is bad itself but that title of the book as well as the cover do not describe the book correctly. In my opinion the cover perfectly reflects the book and so does the title, I am actually very much in love with the title of the book. Don't get me wrong, I do not mind receiving critics - good or bad. But sometimes I when I am sure of my work and when that work is accepted well by the other, bad critic makes me feel a bit angry-ish and makes me wanna trow away that critic. In some cases bad critic makes me question myself and my work while in some cases critics make me realize and see things from new aspects which helps me deepen my artwork and bring it to new level, better level.

So how does bad critic of your work makes you feel when you are sure that the job you did is actually good. I know that lot of authors welcome and as for critic from their readers, but how do you personally deal with them?
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Re: Bad Critic - How do you deal with it?

Post by Deej on Sat Mar 30, 2013 8:01 pm

That's a hard one to answer Lily. A couple things come into play before I can honestly respond, 1, what kind of day am I having, is real life kicking my ass, and the bad review is just another insult. 2. How am I feeling physically, if I'm sick or tired from lack of sleep, it's going to influence my response. 3. Do I know the person making the comment, are they someone I respect, or someone who has a bone to pick with me. 4. Lastly, would I do anything differently???

See all these things come into play for all of us but the most important thing for me is, #4, would I change anything??? Two people can watch a ball game or an accident and both will tell you entirely different things they saw, same thing when reading a book. No two people respond the same way to a book, so IF after I receive a bad review, (and I have) I ask myself days later when I've calmed down, would I change anything??? If the answer is NO, then maybe the reviewer is wrong or they just see things differently, but if I think, maybe I should have done so and so, then I thank the person for the honesty and hope I can do better the next time.

Hope this helps? ;)

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Re: Bad Critic - How do you deal with it?

Post by Lilien on Sat Mar 30, 2013 8:21 pm

I agree what you said about a person who is making comment, it does make the difference if I know the person or not. In this case the person who made comment, haven't directly made it to me, neither do I know the person. It's just a name somewhere on the web. Complete stranger.

I am just curios about how do authors deal with this kind of things. Until now I rarely had a chance to hear first hand how people deal with bad critic in this line of business/art, cause these kind of talks are usually kept in in personal space, or kept to ourselves.

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Re: Bad Critic - How do you deal with it?

Post by ElaineB on Sun Mar 31, 2013 9:32 am

I work with designers all the time, and it seems like it takes a very different approach from, say a fine artist who only has to please herself. You are working for a client. Really, as long as your client it happy, you should be. With your book cover, you pleased your client, obviously, because they used your cover. But then there are all these customers, the readers, out there who also have an opinion. You obviously can't please them all. Art is way too subjective.

I'm always impressed with the flexibility of the designers I work with to please a client. They send a design they obviously like or they wouldn't do it. The client says, No, I want something else. They do that. Back and forth. I'd go insane. They are sometimes asked to do ridiculous things and they have a way of either doing it or convincing the client that it's not a good idea. It's a very strong set of interpersonal skills combined with artistic talent.

Whenever I'm asked to comment on a design, or design element, I say no, I'm not a designer, I'm not the client, I'm not the one who has to be pleased. I've seen some pretty startling stuff be well accepted, it's not for me to say.

As a reader, I might comment on a book cover (I believe I have) if I didn't feel it reflected the content of the story. In the only case I can think of it was pretty objective--characters depicted on the cover were not described that way in the text. There are a lot of covers I don't much like (Micky Knight books come to mind), but as with the story itself, my opinion is only that of one person. I'm sure there are plenty of readers who love the Micky Knight covers.

I think you have to take the criticism for what it is--one person's opinion. If you find there's something you agree with, then maybe you can learn from it. If the comments seem purely subjective, then you have to let it go. Agree to disagree. If the criticisms are technical--maybe the typeface was hard to read against the background, or the image too low resolution, then you have to think about that. Sometimes the printed piece isn't quite what you had envisioned.

The reader who didn't like the title of the book might have had a very different experience reading it than you did, or that the author intended. It sounds like the sort of comment you just have to let go as one person's experience.

Bottom line: You have enough to worry about with your client. As long as he or she is pleased, and you don't feel like you did something you don't like in order to get that approval, then you shouldn't worry about what some anonymous reader thinks.

For me as a writer, I've only had short stories published so haven't faced the dreaded bad review yet. But when getting critiques during the writing process, it's difficult to balance the emotional letdown of someone not liking the piece and finding enough praise to keep going. In my case, I've asked for these critiques, so it's hard to dismiss them. When readers disagree about something, I have to choose sides or go with my gut about what I think is right for the story or the characters. I'm not sure how I'll react once a published piece is criticized. There will be no opportunity to make changes.
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Re: Bad Critic - How do you deal with it?

Post by Lilien on Sun Mar 31, 2013 10:29 am

Hmm, there are things I agree with you and some I disagree.

Doing what I do is most certainly a job. I do it for money and my aim is to please the client. Cause if the client is pleased I get the money. But that also certainly doesn't mean I will bend for all the crazy ideas clients have. If the client is happy, I get the money, but if I sell some crap, no one will hire me later. Through years I centered myself to book covers and all the fallowing material, but I do not say No to any job or client but I most certainly enjoy working with authors. While I was working in newspapers office, colleague of mine and me were doing Photo-Panos for graduation students in elementary school. We took pictures of them in certain pose, re-tushed them, made corrections and build the Pano. In one occasion one girl, 14 years old came to me with proposition that she will pay if I can enlarge her breasts for the pano image. That is certainly something I would never do, and it was a easy money. But the consequences are extremely high. I told this story million of times and to be honest it is a bad example, but these things happen.

When a client comes to me with certain project, he or she always have idea of how they want for cover to look like. So right from the beginning, I have my hands almost thigh. But! Even thought clients know what they want and pay me to get that, that doesn't mean I will do it just the way they want. I must look at the bigger picture, and my job is not only to please the client, but also to please the reader. To attract the attention of the reader and the people who are on receiving end. So while I do what I do for client, I have to think of: Will client be satisfied? Will my cover attract attention? Will the book be noticed? Will that bring me more job? It is not only about the client nor it is about me, there is so many aspects I have to cover.

Whenever I'm asked to comment on a design, or design element, I say no, I'm not a designer, I'm not the client, I'm not the one who has to be pleased. I've seen some pretty startling stuff be well accepted, it's not for me to say.

So this is the part where I disagree. You are the one that has to be pleased. Authors writes a book which he has intention to sell and of course make money, to make a profit out of his/hers book they have to make it appealing to the reader. That is where the blurb and cover come handy. Average reader who goes to book cover, goes to certain section of the book store where they favorite genre is and they uncontentiously pick the book by it's cover and then they turn it and read the blurb and if they like it they will buy it. Some people will disagree with me about this, but that is how majority of people do it. So, bottom line is, yes you are not a client, you are not a designer, but YOU are the one we aim to please. Cause you are the one who brings '' meat to our table''.

When I finish the book and book goes up to sail, I receive my fee I give all the files to my client and I am finished. if after certain time clients come to me for changes, adding something, reducing something those things I charge. Couple of weeks ago I had a client who came to me asking for some changes. Those changes, actually additions would look nice on this one book, but he has two more books coming out this year which are sequels of the first one and I am doing them so we agreed to have some kind of similarity on covers and this change would ruin the flow. I told him, I will do the changes if he really wants it, BUT I told him to think about it a bit, I explained him what kind of mess would that make for future books, cause possibility that these changes I can include on other books are almost non existent. I explained him all the down sides of these changes and additions. He as a author, couldn't see things as I see them as a designer. Point of my story is that even if author has some idea that they think it's fabulous, they will not always be productive for the art work or the receiving end - reader. My job is not always just to please the client, but if I am already selling something, I want that thing to be good! And for that I always have to have a good communication with client.

Of course sometimes people come with unbelievable ideas as enlarging books, taking off someone from photo, adding people to photo, adding teeth, making them look thiner, changing hair color. Sometimes ideas they have are so stupid and so ugly when I finish my work, but they are for their private purposes and they like it, so if they are happy, I am happy, plus I get payed for it.

I agree about how to handle comments and critics with both you and Deej. Critics sometimes come from different kind of people, from different point of view. I do have to take all that in my counting but to be honest even though some critics are made out of complete ignorance, it makes me wonder how did they came to this kind of conclusion.
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Re: Bad Critic - How do you deal with it?

Post by ElaineB on Sun Mar 31, 2013 2:56 pm

I see your point about the client and the reader both needing to be pleased. I suppose I shouldn't discount my reaction to a design. And you are also right about book covers and buyers. There are any number of books I've wanted to buy simply because I loved the cover.

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