Monday, January 20, 2020

Ten Tips for Handling Bad Book Reviews

Bad reviews! Any writer with a published book gets crappy reviews. How do we deal with them? Here are ten tips:

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.

3 – Laugh about it
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?


Pat Hatt said...

haha good tips indeed. Laughing about it works, or just shrugging and moving on. As it is just one opinion, and there is no way you'll please everyone indeed. And yeah, murdering them in the next book is always a good last resort.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Great tips--the first one being the most important! And #10 is always an option. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Elizabeth, since you write mysteries, you have the option to do that!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Alex - ignore things like that - but you've encapsulated perfectly the way these things need to be addressed. Cheers Hilary

Lynda Dietz said...

I love all these tips. You can never gain by engaging the reviewer, so it's best to move on and realize we're all different people with different tastes. I do love the idea of writing them into your next book, though. A grisly death would be satisfying to write.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

One opinion in millions doesn't really matter.

SpacerGuy said...

Mark Wahberg is doing the 6 Billion Dollar man in 2020. Thinking about this as a title sure beats 6 million dollar man eh? All it takes is single letter and in one simple trick of the mind you've got a whole new ball game or in Wahbergs case - movie.

Juneta key said...

Great tips and advice. I absolutely love that quote, so profound.

Anne R. Allen said...

Excellent advice. I especially like #10. And yes, I've done that. LOL.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Spacer Guy, that's funny.

Anne, good for you!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great tips, Alex. I've heard some say that it's best not even to read reviews, though to me, that would be hard.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Excellent points, Alex. I think I've used them all at one time. Thank you.

Mirka Breen said...

You covered it perfectly in this post. FIVE STARS! *****

Ornery Owl of Naughty Netherworld Press and Readers Roost said...

I don't read reviews of my work, either good or bad. I can read ten good ones and get one bad one and will be fixated on the bad one for literally weeks. It is better for my productivity and my son who has to live under the same roof as my gloomy, melodramatic self if I am in the pit of self-loathing because of a bad review. Laughing at it sounds good. I wish I could do that. Unfortunately, I'm not wired that way. So, facing reality, the best thing for me to do is not read my reviews.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Excellent post! When I get a review that stings, I'll go look up the reviews on a book I love and read the bad reviews. It makes me feel better. I've also learned a lot from the smart reviews. Readers are savvy- they catch things I miss.

Patsy said...

It's true that they add validity. There's no book that's going to please every reader, so we're suspicious when the reviews suggest one does.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Great tips.


Toi Thomas said...

I like number 10. Never thought of that.

J.H. Moncrieff said...

Great tips, Alex.

I've stopped reading my reviews, especially on Goodreads, because one of my publishers has a following of people that viciously attack any book that comes out, especially if the book doesn't follow an expected formula.

Rather than getting helpful criticism that could make my books better, I got tons of personal insults and things like "the author ran out of paper" or "the author got tired of writing" because my ending was open-ended. It was frustrating and upsetting more than helpful, so now I ignore them completely. There are reviews and editors I trust, and that's where I'll get my critical-yet-helpful feedback.

Fundy Blue said...

Thanks for these great tips (and timely ones for me), Alex. Great Teddy Roosevelt quote too. I like #10 ~ LOL

diedre Knight said...

Howdy, Captain!

I can't imagine responding to a bad review unless to thank the offender for the inadvertent plug "Aw, this is terrible - try it!"

Looking for constructive criticism is not something I would have thought of - but I am now officially sold on the idea!

True, one person (usually) does not speak for all, though sometimes it feels like it. Believing in yourself is highly beneficial to the healing process - Oh, you don't like my work? Just wait till you read what I write next ;-)

"Kill off the reviewer," Ha! I might have laughed too loud at that.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Ornery, I've learned from my reviews.

JH, that is really crappy!!

Diedre, good point about the plug! And glad I made you laugh.

Yolanda Renée said...

I enjjoyed your interview! Didn't see a place to comment though.

As far as reviews go I try to ignore them. But it's hard to deal with some of the comments.

Jennifer Lane said...

"You can’t please everyone. (And if you do, then you really didn’t say anything of value.)"

Great point! I never thought of it that way before. On a good day, bad reviews make me laugh. Awesome post, Alex.

Margaret Welwood said...

I like #4.

cleemckenzie said...

Absolutely good advice.