So, here’s a post from Mary Robinette Kowal on the subject of hate mail. Speaking as a writer who has received his share of nastily worded letters of loathing, her conclusions are entirely sensible.
That said, it’s always a bit of a surprise when that first poison penned missive pops up in your inbox. It’s not like a bad review–as I’ve said before, reviewers aren’t speaking to the authors, so much as other readers. A bad review is less about the author than the book, and it’s subjective and (relatively) impersonal. Hurts like a sumbitch, mind, but you can and should roll with it. It’s all part of the game.
But hate mail is a different sort of beast. It’s personal. Like fan-mail, it’s a reader reaching out directly to the author to share their opinions. Only instead of bolstering you, it’s meant to beat you down. So it stabs a bit deeper and the pain lasts a bit longer. It can be a gut-punch and a confidence killer. But like Mrs. Robinette Kowal said, it’s best to ignore it. Don’t respond and don’t let it get its hooks in you.
Now I say that, but, personally? I get a vicious little thrill out of hate-mail, because I’m a nasty sort. I like pissing folks off. I’ve got season passes to the Dark Side of the Force, and I think the best heat is cheap heat. I love my hate-mail so much that I pin it up on a cork-board next to my invoice receipts.
Either way, my advice, if you need it, is simply this: don’t let it stop you. Also, cork-boards have a variety of uses.