There is no author who has never received a bad review. Even better – the more popular the book is, the more negative reviews you can find for it.
A bad review feels like a punch in the gut, when you no longer can breathe and all the motivation and inspiration drop far below zero. It remains like a sticky note somewhere in a corner of your brain, tarnishing your day. It hurts worse than a rejection it sort of is.
Every fiction author is an artist, and artists are sensitive souls. Moreover, while creating fiction we often reveal much more personal things than are necessary for nonfiction books. That’s one of the reasons why for some authors it takes a lot of courage to dare put their book out there for others to read. Our creations feel like our beloved children and knowing that someone hates them feels awful. And even on a more basic level, every normal human being wants to be loved, and it hurts to know it’s not the case.
How to deal with poor reviews
1. Here is the rule of thumb: “Grow your crocodile skin”
Every person is different and it is impossible to be loved by everyone. Be prepared that there will be readers who will absolutely love your book, and others who will just hate it. Sometimes it’s not because of your writing skills or of the bad story. Sometimes a person just hates it all with all his/her being “just because”.
2. Take a deep breath, relax, and ask yourself whether there is something constructive and useful in the bad review
Often a negative review points out some mistakes that need to be corrected (that was the case of my book – several people pointed out editorial drawbacks in their reviews, and I’m actually thankful for that because I was able to make the corrections).
However, if the review attacks the author himself/herself or has some horrible things that are not exactly related to the work, there is no need to agonize over them. Just go back to the point 1.
3. Be Polite
NEVER respond to mean reviews, or if you for some reason you feel like you have to, do not be mean in response!!! It’s not professional! A written word can’t be erased, and your impulsive rudeness can go a long way tarnishing your image.
- Poor reviews make your work more legitimate: if you only have 4- and 5-star reviews, people might think that those are from family and friends, which is slightly undermining their credibility.
- Bad reviews are not really stopping the potential readers from buying your book. Other factors like cover, description and price have more power over the buying decision.
- Some marketers believe that there is no bad advertising – no matter bad or good are the things it says, it still creates an awareness and triggers some sort of curiosity. And believe it or not, some people will actually buy things that people they are opposed to hate. It is easy to find examples of a very bad critique that became the reason of a huge success.
- Stay true to yourself and do not allow to manipulate your emotions. Let them speak – you wrote your book, your beloved creation, for those who have similar tastes, for those who like it. Why would you care for those who hate it? If there is one person out there who likes your story, then it was worth the effort.
I absolutely love the way Robin Hobb, one of my favorite fiction writers, put it:
Kateryna Kei, Author of Raven Boy, adventure and romance young-adult saga