How To Deal With Bad Reviews

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How I respond to my Good Reads reviews.

TRIGGER WARNING (FAUX BAD REVIEW)

Picture it.

You’re hella nervous.

Why?

Because your latest novel has just gone live on Amazon.

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You after clicking the live Amazon link to your latest novel.

Sure, you’re no Dostoevsky but you’re proud of your book.

It’s the culmination of six months worth of blood, sweat, tears and turning down your friends’ weekly karaoke invites to Applebees.

You don’t want to brag, but you think it might be your best work yet.

You wait on pins and needles for those first reviews to roll in.

THEN…

A five-star review! Hot dog!

Another five-star review! Keep ’em coming!

A four-star…two more four stars…

Not bad! You’ll happily take them.

AND THEN

You see it.

The dreaded one-star review.

You put on a brave face and reluctantly read it.

Laura_b69 thinks you should be ashamed of yourself for writing such tasteless drivel.

According to Laura, your characters are flat and unbelievable.

Also, your novel reads like it was edited by a kindergartener.

In fact, she’s never read anything as horrible as your novel and she wants you to know she would have given it zero stars if she could have.

She ends the review with “DNF” in bold caps (Did Not Finish) and strongly recommends that no one waste their time reading your nonsensical gobbledygook disguised as a novel.

tenor

You may think I’m exaggerating but y’all the truth is:

Folks will rip your work to shreds without nary a second thought.

And no matter how thick you think your skin is…

It still hurts.

A lot.

So as a veteran of the game I thought I’d share with you how I personally deal with bad and/or mean reviews.

HOW TO DEAL WITH BAD REVIEWS

#1 READ THE BAD REVIEWS OF YOUR FAVORITE NOVELS

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William Shakespeare’s actual Amazon reviews:
“Boring.”
“Not a good beach read. I think I’ll stick to my cliched romance novels next time.”

JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone review:
“Found it pretty forgettable.”

Review of my ALL-TIME FAVORITE Stephen King book, Misery:
“Dull, uneventful and worthless.”

Y’all, everything is not for everybody.

The thing is, no matter how amazing a piece of art is, there’s always going to be someone who just doesn’t get it.

And that’s okay.

Besides, I figure if my goddess JK Rowling can deal with a couple bad reviews, then so can I.

#2 PLAY DEVIL’S ADVOCATE

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Such an underrated flick. Also, Charlize Theron makes out with a chick so there’s that.

Alright, so this one sucks.

So much.

BUT

Sigh

Is it possible that Laura_b69 is right?

Or at least not completely wrong?

Look, I know Laura’s a total B, but hear me out.

Take a good, hard look at your novel.

Is it possible that your characters are a little flat?

And did you actually hire a real editor or did you use your friend Jared who majored in English at Everest college before it got shut down?

Reframing bad reviews can help you go from feeling attacked to feeling…well, less attacked.

And it helps to simply acknowledge that, “Hey I’m not perfect at this.”

And that’s okay too.

#3 RE-READ YOUR GOOD REVIEWS AND READER EMAIL

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This one’s pretty straight forward.

There are folks that have read your book and abso-freakin-lutely LOVED it!

These folks leave glowing five-star reviews and email you personally. They sign up for your newsletter and they stan hard for you on every social media platform.

They are a national treasure and their words will get you through any bad review Laura throws your way.

They provide a much-needed reminder that you don’t actually suck at this.

#4 DON’T READ THEM

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Seriously.

I know this may be controversial but look, there’s no rule that says you HAVE to read your reviews.

Now me personally…I read my reviews

BUT

I don’t read every. single. one.

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Don’t get me wrong.

Constructive criticism is necessary for growth.

I truly believe that each book you write should be better than your last and the quickest way to become a better writer is to stop sucking.

And you can’t stop sucking if you don’t know the various ways in which you suck.

I get it.

BUT

When it comes to reviews, eventually you hit a point of diminishing returns.

Otherwise defined as:

“If it’s something you need to know, it’s going to be brought up in the first 10-15 reviews.”

After that, you’re just stroking your ego OR you have a masochistic streak.

Me?

I peace out after about 15 reviews.

But you?

You should do whatever preserves your peace of mind and keeps you writing.

And for some of you, that might be not reading your reviews at all.

No judgment.

You do you boo boo and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re doing it wrong.

#5 DON’T TAKE IT PERSONAL

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This WHOLE album is a bop.

Repeat after me.

“I wrote a book.”

“I am not a book.”

See how that works?

I know it’s easier said than done to separate yourself from your work, but it’s one of the best things you can do for your sanity after you put your art out there for the world to consume.

The world doesn’t see you when they read your novel.

Hell, they’re not even thinking about you.

They see your characters, plots, arcs, and settings.

And many of them will have very strong opinions about those things.

But not about you.

You made the thing.

You are not the thing.

IN CONCLUSION

Let’s not kid ourselves.

At the end of the day, bad reviews suck.

They just do.

And although everything I wrote about does help me feel better…

…so does chocolate.

And snuggling on the couch with a bowl of freshly popped popcorn and a terrible 80’s film.

We have feelings.

Feelings get hurt.

Sometimes just acknowledging the fact that Laura_b69 hurt your feelings, helps.

Sometimes it doesn’t.

And yo, that’s okay too.

evelyn dar

 

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9 comments

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  1. Anne Hagan

    I love that your first point was to read the bad reviews of some of your favorite novels. Everyone gets them. That’s life. What a lot of newer writers don’t realize is that many people read the bad reviews and can pick out when a book just wasn’t for that reviewer and not that it’s a bad book and they buy it and read it anyway. I’ve had my share of bad reviews, some deserved, some that sold more books for me because they were way off base and readers picked up on it.

  2. Shaily Agrawal

    Loved what you wrote. In my first review at office, I was advised never to take feedbacks personally. It was my WORK they were judging according to THEIR point of view. I must use it improve and filter the rest out of my system.

  3. Melinda

    Great post with some really valid suggestions. Because most of us know that criticism can HURT…if you take it personally. But using it to grow really feels like the only sensible thing to do! Thanks for the well-written post ❤

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