Congratulations! You’ve published your book! You promote it, give away free copies, network, etc. And then you wait.
If you’re lucky, a couple reviews come in. Maybe more, maybe none, depending on if you’re self-published, with a small press, with one of the Big Five, or something in between. Some of those review will say that they liked your work. Others will slam it into the ground.
And you know what? It hurts. You’ve likely spent years creating, molding, and breathing life into this single piece of yours only to have some people despise it or flat out ignore its existence.
Despite that, you must remember this: love your own books. Don’t you recall all the time and effort and affection you poured into them? How happy writing them made you? (Okay, maybe the editing portion didn’t fill your soul with glee, but some part of the writing process did.) When’s the last time you spent so much time on something? While it’s difficult not to linger over the feelings of “person y & z didn’t like it” or “I guess it wasn’t as good as I hoped it was”, you can’t do that to yourself. It doesn’t help you in any way whatsoever*.
In a similar vein, you also should never feel bad about or look down on what you do. Don’t let people make you feel like you should quit writing or take your work less seriously. Heck, to this day, despite having multiple published novels, my parents still see my writing time as trivial and unimportant. It’s always been seen as something I shouldn’t prioritize, (which of course made me want to prioritize it even more. Reverse psychology, perhaps? Ah, the parental masterminds at work.)
You have to remember the joy your books give you, because at the end of the day that’s the only person who matters. Would you rather slave over a book for months, if not years, you hated working on from beginning to end, but yet one that received success? Or, would you rather have a book you enjoyed molding in your hands and bringing into the world, but one that didn’t experience much acclaim?
I know where my answer lies. As writers, we’re naturally critics of our own work. We have to be for the editing and revision process alone. And yet, valuing and enjoying our work when all is said and done should never be forgotten. Though it’s difficult to teach oneself these things, it’s a pursuit we should never abandon.
* However, if you’re book receives many a negative review all pin-pointing the same thing, you may want to take another look and consider how you can make it better. This does not mean though you should ever hate your book. Read my post Biting the Bullet for my experience with this.