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!

12 thoughts on “How to Handle a Bad Review”

  1. Poor reviews are a wonderful opportunity to learn about yourself as a writer. Often, larger numbers of “regular” readers will review your work than you could ever get to give a critique. I think you have to read a review with an open mind but tune out true viciousness. Some people are unhappy, no matter what you do. Those are the people I ignore in real life. Why would I do any different in my “writing life”?

    1. I love your attitude and you are right. There are treasures to be found in a true critique and I always appreciate it when I receive them. I want to continue to grow as a writer. Even diamonds must receive blows to reveal their true beauty.

  2. Absolutely! I wish more people would understand this. It really is sad when an author is torn apart by a thoughtless reviewer, but responding to that review may well be the death of the author’s career. Wonderful, thoughtful post.

  3. This is a great post, Robynn. I love your approach. You may be aware that I normally blog a review every Thu. I’m taking a little break and simply catching up on some of my back-list reading and the TBR pile. I’ve been critized because I won’t review a book I can’t recommend without reservation. I believe there’s enough criticism in the world and I prefer to pick on government and companies that profit from their wrongs. Thanks for a thoughtful blog.

    1. First, I love your blogs! Both the reviews and your personal one. What you have been through in the medical world is astounding. That you continue to have such a positive view of the world, makes you my hero.

      I’m honored you stopped by. I like your approach to reviewing as well. After some of the replies I’ve gotten to my suggestions, I think you have the very best way of doing it. Yes, if you can’t recommend it, you might as well stay quiet. And, yes, the government and companies that are dishonest need all the direction they can get!! Hope you have a great 4th.

    1. Oh my! Thank you for reblogging this post on your blog. I feel honored! Your post is so needed and referencing others gives a much broader view of the issue of negative reviews. Keep up the good work!