Reviews. Authors need them. They crave them. Agonize over them. Even beg for them. But while a good review can boost your confidence into the stratosphere, a bad one can send you into a tailspin.
So what’s an author to do with a bad review? Well, we’ve got a few coping strategies we think will help.
Note: We’re authors here. PageCurl is by authors, for authors. So we take our own advice. Trust us. While these strategies won’t turn a bad review into a good one, or totally remove the sting, they will help.
Remember the review isn’t all about you
Every author gets a few bad reviews in their career. Think about your favorite food. (Ours is pizza…or maybe coffee.) Now, ask a hundred people if they love that food as much as you do. At least one or two of them probably won’t. Books are the same way. Not all books are for everyone. Most bad reviews aren’t personal attacks against you as a person. They’re about your story. Your style. And that’s very subjective. Sure, there are things that aren’t. Good grammar, proper punctuation. But your actual story? That’s yours and yours alone. And it’s okay if not everyone loves it.
Remember you’re not alone
Now, think about your favorite book. Go look that book up on Amazon. Read the reviews. We’ll bet money that if this is a popular book, there are some bad reviews. Look up Shakespeare. Stephanie Meyer. JK Rowling. Steven King. Every single one of them has bad reviews. The first Harry Potter book has 153 one-star reviews. Steven King’s Revival has over 300! And don’t get us started on Shakespeare.
Remember never to respond
This is key. Note the bold text here. Never, ever respond to a bad review. We don’t care if the review called you names, insulted your mother, or called your use of grammar abysmal. Do not respond. Walk away. Curse privately, go have a glass of wine, engage in some retail therapy, or find a kickboxing class and kick a heavy bag for a while. Just do not respond. Why not? Because you won’t win. Remember the first adage. A bad review isn’t all about you. Some person out there didn’t like your book. Maybe they had a personal experience that affected their review. Maybe their ex treated them just like your main character and that brought up bad memories. Maybe the reviewer just lost their job and so they were upset about something else. Maybe they’re just a mean person. You don’t know. You’ll never know in most cases. And that’s okay.
Remember to learn from the experience
We see this happen a lot. New authors obsess over every new review. They’ll check their reviews (and sales) multiple times a day or even multiple times a week. They’ll read every new review, analyze it, even pick it apart. What could I have done better? What would have turned this three-star-review into a five-star-review? This is okay to a point. Keeping a general eye on your reviews is encouraged. But try to get to the point where you’re not obsessing over every new review. Realize that some people will love what you wrote and others won’t.
There’s one exception to this rule. If you get a spate of bad reviews that all mention one thing…then you might want to think about that thing. Do all of your one-star-reviews talk about bad editing? That’s something to take to heart. Do your bad reviews all mention that a word you used is offensive? Maybe you didn’t know. And maybe you should fix that word. Maybe you chose a category that wasn’t appropriate. Did you know that in order to call your book a romance it MUST have a happily ever after (or at least happy for now) ending? If you kill one of your lovers at the end of the book, billing the book as a romance will earn you some negative reviews.