This is me when I see a good review for one of my books:
This is me when I see a bad review for one of my books:
Authors react in many different ways when they receive a bad review. A lot of times, those reactions lead to a bad reputation for that writer. Some even end up on the Authors Behaving Badly list. As I always say, I'm not an expert, but I want to help other emerging authors get their career off to a good start. With that in mind, here are three things NOT to do when you get a bad review:
1) Contact the reviewer to explain something about the book that you think they misunderstood.
2) Contact the reviewer to bitch at them because you don’t like what they wrote.
3) Contact the reviewer to ask them to take the review down.
Basically, DON’T CONTACT THE REVIEWER. Don’t even look at them. And for book god’s sake, don’t track them down and attack them with a wine bottle. Yes, that happened. Do not argue with the reviewer in any way. No matter how nasty the things were that they wrote about you, your book, your dog and your grandma, you’ll be the one to come out looking like the unprofessional monster that no one wants to deal with. Once you put your book out there, people are entitled to their opinion about it. And nothing you can say to them is going to change that opinion.
Also, don’t try to be slick and send your fans, friends or family after someone either. You know what I mean, the sly post where you say, Sally Reviewer was so mean to me but I’m not going to sink to her level. But here’s the link if you want to see it. And all her social media handles for good measure. And her email address. And her blood type. Then your fan/friend/family member says, I’ll give them a piece of my mind! So they attack Sally Reviewer, then a bunch more people attack Sally Reviewer. Meanwhile, you’re sitting there with dirt free hands, playing the tragic victimized author role, and only after it gets truly nasty do you maybe think about calling off your rabid horde. This is gross. Don’t do this. Be professional.
So what can you do about negative reviews?
2) Go in your closet and scream with rage
3) Eat ice cream
4) Play Mortal Kombat and pretend it’s the reviewer’s ass you’re kicking
5) Call your mom (or other lovingly sympathetic family member or friend) and complain
6) Buy yourself something pretty for some retail therapy
7) Take that pissed off fire and write another book
Now, I’m not saying I’ve used any of the above methods (I’ve totally used all of the above methods). But they are helpful. Get your hurt feelings out in private and then move on. You can also just avoid reading your negative reviews. In my opinion, this is the review scale for sites like Goodreads and Amazon and how I think you should read them:
5 Stars – Oh my gawd, this book was the best! Top ten for my whole life!
Read these, but sparingly. Save ‘em for when you’re having a shit day writing and need a confidence boost.
4 Stars – This book was amazing! Definitely going on my reread pile
Read these and bask. You did good work.
3 Stars – This was a good book, but it had some issues.
Read these. They usually have legitimate critique that you can learn from to improve your craft.
2 Stars – This book was awful. But I did like the dog.
You should probably skip these. They’ll just make you sad.
1 Star – This book was the dirt worst! Somebody take this so-called author’s keyboard away so she can never write again! And for good measure, cut off her hands!!!! *heavy breathing through the keyboard*
Don’t read these. They more than likely didn’t offer any helpful feedback and they will piss you off.
I know what you're thinking. Why is this important? And, I have the right to express my feelings just the way that reviewer did. But look at it this way. You, the writer, are a business. You might be a one woman/man show, but you are still a business. It is up to you to protect your reputation.
Imagine if Target, Dunkin Donuts, or Nine West went off on rants every time they had a customer give their products a negative review. You'd probably be turned off and not want to shop there anymore, right? Same goes for readers. Your core group of fans might not mind your review rage. But readers who are out there on the fringes might feel differently. They'll take a look at that unprofessional rant about a reviewer and decide they don't want to support an author who attacks readers. After all, who's to say you won't attack them if they don't give you a glowing review? And just like that, that reader has decided not to support you with their book dollars. So ask yourself, is it worth it losing potential fans by internet screaming over a bad review? In my opinion, it's not.
Reviews are tough. You need them, they can make you feel good, but they can also hurt something fierce. If you're going to be a writer, you'll need to learn to accept reviews graciously and find a closet to scream in when you can't.
Thanks for reading!
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My rambling and not at all edited thoughts on romance novels, writing, and pop culture.