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Bret Easton Ellis on dealing with bad reviews

How do you come back from a bad review?

I never had to come back from a bad review because they never affected me like that—and I’ve gotten more bad reviews than any writer of my generation. That’s not hyperbole—that is a fact. I got over bad reactions pretty quickly in workshops where I felt the reactions (both pro and con) were usually so disconnected from what my own personal intentions were that they simply didn’t matter to me—and my stories were the most argued over, with passionate defenders and equally passionate haters. The impulse to write isn’t based on an audience for me—the only reader that matters to me is myself.

So when I’m reviewed—why would I care? When a critic really gets it wrong and hates the book there’s a twinge of frustration and then I move on and that’s only if the critic is a big shot and is published somewhere prominent. Good reviews? Meh. I guess Stephen King reviewing Lunar Park and liking it was a thrill of some kind but for the most part they exist as this separate element from the creative process. The narrative ends when I finish the book—it does not continue for me through publication, reviews, touring, readings—that’s all work for financial gain with your publisher. The only thing that I care about is the relationship I have with the novel while I’m writing it.

About the Author

Bret Easton Ellis

Novelist, Screenwriter, Director, Podcaster

Bret Easton Ellis is an American novelist, screenwriter, director and podcaster. His seven novels, which include Less Than Zero and American Psycho, have been translated into over 27 different languages. He lives in Los Angeles.