1 – Refrain from responding
As much as you might want to respond, either politely or with harsh words, don’t do it. Once you’ve left a comment or sent out a Tweet or posted to Facebook, your negative response will be out there for all to see forever. You might get a few fans to rally to your cause, but most will view you as the villain, not the reviewer. Even if you later delete it, the damage is done. Sending an email is a bad idea as well. So refrain from adding fuel to the fire and keep your grumblings private.
2 – Know that it’s part of the process
Guess what? We all get negative reviews. It goes with the territory. Remember, you created art. Art is subjective and not everyone will like your book. You can’t please everyone. (And if you do, then you really didn’t say anything of value.) Shake it off and move on.
What are you going to do—cry? Might as well laugh about it! Often a bad review is just as poorly written. So turn the tables and have a good chuckle about it.
4 – Remember they add validity to good reviews
What do you think when a book has nothing but five star reviews? You start to wonder, don’t you? Friends and family of the author? Paid reviews? A couple bad reviews means some readers were honest—which means the rest of the good reviews are probably honest as well. Plus sometimes people want to know if the book is really that bad and they read it!
5 – Look for constructive criticism
Often two and three star reviews will offer constructive criticism. Look for it. Is there any validity to what they said? Can you see areas where you can improve or issues you need to address? (Several reviewers didn’t like the fact there were no women in my first book. I listened and made sure there were several women in the next one, including a female main character. That book garnered better reviews than the first.) Learn from the bad reviews and write a better book next time.
6 – Don’t focus on the negative
We tend to focus on the negative. We can have a hundred great reviews and one bad one. Which gets our attention? The bad one! Who cares? When doing averages, what do they always do? They drop the top numbers and the bottom numbers. So ignore that bad review and don’t even factor it into the equation.
7 – It’s just one person’s opinion
Everybody has an opinion. And they are just that—opinions, not facts. So one person didn’t like your book? Big deal! Out of millions of readers, that’s not even a drop in the bucket. (Unless all of your reviews are bad!)
8 – Don’t let it stop you
Yes, putting a book out there is scary. It’s a creative endeavor, which makes it a little more personal. We can’t take it personal though. We have to believe in ourselves and not let bad reviews stop us. Have you ever encountered a jerk at your work? Did it cause you to give up and stop working forever? No! So don’t let a negative review from someone you’ve never met stop you.
9 – Write the next book
This is the best thing you can do! Just hunker down and write your next book. Show those naysayers that you are a great writer. Take your experience from the previous book and pour it into the next one. Besides, you’ll be so busy writing, you won’t have time to worry about bad reviews.
10 – Kill off the reviewer in your next book
If all else fails, then just put that reviewer into your book as a murder victim or monster that is slayed by the hero!
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Teddy Roosevelt
How do you handle bad reviews?