How to Handle a Bad Review

1014089_10200694446861102_1883591962_nIt’s going to happen. For whatever reason, someone is not going to like your book. So get prepared. Put aside your pride. Even the inventors of chocolate ice cream have their critics. You are no different.

That’s the delightful part of this world, we all have free choice and with that comes opinions. That’s what drives competitive consumerism. Thank heavens, otherwise it would be boring as hell! So how do you handle it?

Be mature. Don’t respond with reasons or arguments. Look at it objectively even though it stings. Is there any grain of truth in it? You can use the “three witnesses” approach.  If three reviews have the same complaint there is a problem. If there is only one complaint, it is simply this person’s opinion but you might want to consider it if it has merit while writing your next book.

What if it is just plain viciousness and has nothing to do with your book? I would ask you, “How do you put out a fire? Do you put more wood on it or do you simply let it die out?” I’ve found with unhappy people they are just looking for a way to vent. Some have more manners than others, but to engage is just to feed the fire. They said their piece, publicly of course which sucks, but for you to respond puts you on their level and attracts others of the same ilk. Let it go. Work on inner peace or get a dartboard.  Either way it is a losing battle to engage them. You are just giving them what they want.

Read the positive reviews again, and again, if necessary. Do you believe you have written the best story you can? Have you had it professionally edited? Do you believe your passion is writing? Are you proud of your product? Then again, remember, not everyone likes chocolate ice cream. Talk it over with your friends. Vent, get it out of your system. Cry if you must, but let it go. Go on a blog tour and promote or join a critique group and get intelligent feedback for your work.

Consider the percentages. How many bad versus good reviews do you have? If it’s more bad, again  objectively look at your work. Some of us are blessed with a singing voice, others just given the desire to sing and have no voice. Redirect your talents to what brings you the most returns. Consider the reasons you want to write. If it’s to make money, give up and go to your local casino, you will have more luck there. If it’s for praise and reward, get a puppy instead. But if it is a deep seated desire, passion and a must, write because you want to and forget the others.

Bottom line, you will have to endure some bad with the good. Don’t focus on it and move on. Believe in yourself, build your confidence by learning from your mistakes. Do you believe that bad review means you can’t write? Then you can’t.  Do you believe you can write? Then you can. You are only as confident as you believe yourself to be.

Do you have other ways of handling rejection? I would love to hear about them. Leave a comment and let’s discuss this!


A Frustrated Reader


It’s nice to be wanted. I know every Indie writer searches for an avid reader like me.  I speed read and can easily devour up to 80,000 words a day.  I’m always hungry for a good story. I will overlook a lot for that elusive plot that will submerse me in another time and place, leaving behind the troubles of this world.

I’m willing to take on any genre, although I’m not fond of horror. Even then it depends on the voice of the writer and the plot line.  It should be a dance between me and the author. I want to be treated with respect and given their finest product.

Yet, I’m finding more often in the Indie world it’s about the writer’s ego and less about my enjoyment. I’m left to fend for myself.  I flounder in poor grammar, sentences that make no sense, wandering plots and in some cases, no plot at all.

It’s like dancing with a partner who is clumsy, steps on your toes and is just plain bored with you. This is how I feel  when I run across a poorly written story. It is frustrating to see a gorgeous book cover, an enticing synopsis, and then to put down my money, only to eagerly open the first page and begin wading through a poorly written quagmire drenched in disappointment.

I try, I really do. I tell myself that there is a kernel of story in there somewhere. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at some of the “diamonds in the rough” I’ve discovered. Other times I speed through, picking up the gist of the plot, but not slowing to become engaged. It feels like a school assignment. Find the most important parts so I can maybe get something out of it.

Why do I do this? Because I’m not only a treasure hunting reader, I’m also an author.  I know the work that goes into writing. I want to reward the poor soul who spent all that time hammering out the story. Sometimes I can’t even do that.

Recently I have taken to writing to the authors in private, asking things like, “What Point of View are you attempting?” Answer, “I’m not sure. I don’t understand POV, I just write.”   Or saying to another author, “I believe there are some formatting issues as some of the sentences don’t have spacing between the words.” Their answer, “I just write what I feel and you have to take it or leave it.”    Huh?

My favorite was the response to a suggestion I made.  “Could I humbly suggest you find a friend who has some editing skills to help  refine and tighten up your story. It has a lot of merit.” The response was, “I’ve always been told I’m  a good righter and I edited it already. Why waste the money. I made this book to make money.” (And yes, they spelled ‘writer’ as ‘righter’, no joke)

I’m not trying to make anyone look stupid by flaunting my imaginary superior skills. I’m in the same boat as every writer. I have issues,  just ask my editor!  Really, I’m just trying to understand where the author is coming from. I wondered if the first author mentioned above was trying for an omniscient voice (I struggle myself with POV) and I wanted to warn the second author there were conversion problems in the manuscript (I hire someone to format for me because I’m computer illiterate!).

In the last week I’ve randomly picked and read over ten Indie stories. I have found only two of those that seemed edited and pulled in my interest enough that I actually slowed down to savor the words and delve into the story. At one point as I was slogging through a poorly written story, I stopped to read sentences out loud to my husband. He shook his head, as baffled as I was as to what the author was trying to say.

Unfortunately it showed me why Indies are getting a bad rap. As a frustrated reader I can understand why people would ask for a refund on a digital book. Though I think writing crude, nasty public reviews aimed at an author is rude and defeats the purpose of a review, I can understand the irritation behind one. How do we go about informing authors  they need to refine their product?

I suggest not damaging future sales for money or ego. For the sake of the readers, for the sake of the industry, for the sake of trying to sell our work, we need to do our best not only to put a pretty cover on our books, but to make the inside as nice as the outside.  Hire an editor as well as a cover artist. It is well worth the investment.


Genius Moments Versus Idiot Moments


Wanting to learn how to ride horses at an older age, I realized the ground was harder than my head, so I hired a trainer. Within a few months, she made a discovery. There would be times, as she said, I would have a ‘genius’ moment.  A great idea to some problem we were encountering. Then she would cringe as she knew  an ‘idiot’ moment would not be far behind.

When she brought it to my attention, we both had a good laugh. I had to agree with her assessment. It’s been like this all of my life. So it should not have been a big surprise to me when I decided to write a book, which seemed a genius idea at the time, that it would turn out to be more involved than I realized.

The idiot side of it was revealed when I found I would have to promote it. Unlike any other product, it wasn’t just about the book, I was part of the product. Suddenly my tightly guarded personal life would become a fish bowl if the book actually made it in the publishing world. In the business world I was always able to do the work, disconnect and go home to my life. Promoting the book would now become my life, totally.

If you are a beginning writer, you will hear this alot. Writing the book is easy. Editing is torture. Promoting it is life consuming. Meanwhile, I’m waiting for that next genius moment to get me out of this mess!