Authors: 5 Tips for Dealing with Bad Reviews

shutterstock_227796982You’ve slaved over every word, checked and double-checked every detail (was she wearing red shoes in the beginning of this scene? Where did the torch that they were holding go?). Your nerves are on fire and self-doubt is peeking through the drapes. It feels complete and you know you’ll never feel ready, so you close your eyes and submit it to Amazon or your publisher.

It’s published. The reviews start coming in. Five-stars (yes!), four-stars (yes!), three-stars (I’ll take it!)…but then it hits you. You see the title before you even see the stars…

“This was a terrible book.”

For every writer, that means a sinking feeling in the pit of their stomachs. Do these people not realize how hard you worked? And what about that other book, that terrible book that wasn’t even finished that you noticed they gave five-stars!!!!

You’re enraged…but you’re not alone. Here are Five Tips that I’ve used that might help you deal with those bad reviews.

5. Allow yourself to be upset…but not for too long. Because hey, you’re human. Someone telling you that your book is terrible is like someone telling you that you have an ugly baby. You automatically go on the defensive, and that’s normal. But don’t stay there too long. You have characters that need you.

4. Take a moment for yourself. This goes along with number five. You’re upset and now you’re getting stressed because you’re worried that you’ll never make it as a writer. Your phone number’s on the do-not-call list but Anxiety is still somehow getting through. Stop. Take a Deep Breath. Relax (Learned this from my preschoolers). Take five at Starbucks, go fishing, or see the new Jurassic Park movie. Treat yourself. YOU JUST WROTE AN ENTIRE BOOK!!!! That’s a pretty solid accomplishment.

3. Add the words…”In my opinion” to the beginning of the review. Harsh words like “terrible” and “do not buy this” add insult to injury, but remembering that they are just one person’s opinion might help to soften the blow. Think about the look you gave the last person at work who started any sentence with, “In my opinion,” about a topic you didn’t necessarily agree with. Yes…that look. The head-tilt, brow-knit, bish what are you talking about look. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion, but you don’t have to let it define you.

2. Check for anything constructive. The misconception is that authors LOATHE bad reviews. Not necessarily. We don’t like reviews that say, “Bad. Just bad. Didn’t even finish it.” That tells us absolutely nothing. Some readers, however, do take the time to say, “needs more editing,” and “where were Cassandra’s red shoes?” which makes you revisit your writing, tighten up, and get better in the long run.

And my **NUMBER ONE** tip for dealing with bad reviews? Head on over to one of your favorite books. Hit that one-star button (you know it has some) and read what those people have to say. Let your jaw drop, roll your eyes, yell at the computer screen, etc because how could they have possibly NOT liked this book? Then, you realize that some people like green tea and others black. Your book just might not have been the cup that they were looking for.

Successful people never quit. Now, take a woo-sah, sip some coffee, and get back to work.

– Alex

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