Advice For Authors: Coping With Negative Reviews
As an author, there is nothing worse than reading negative reviews of my work. It's bad enough knowing that someone hated my book enough to dedicate an entire post to it, let alone the fact that they took the time to search for gifs and then decided to post the review everywhere and now other people are liking that review. It's the kind of crushing, soul destroying feeling that makes me want to lock myself in a darkened room and never, ever come out, let alone write anything again. Well, I would, except for the fact that I can be a rather vengeful person in a lot of ways. I figure if anyone goes to that much trouble to write a negative review then they would probably enjoy the fact that they have just completely ruined a lifelong hobby for me and the best way to get revenge is to keep on writing seeing as they would probably hate that. Jokes aside, it is unpleasant being on the receiving end of a negative review. Over the years, I've found some different ways to cope with them, and thought that it might be helpful to share them here. So here are a few tips:
Don't read them
If you're really feeling the weight of negative reviews, then stop reading them. You're not obligated to read reviews of your work. If you really want to read reviews, then the time to do it is well after your book has been released and you're looking for feedback on how to improve your craft or to make your books more marketable.
Don't take it personally
Very few reviews are written with the intention of hurting the author. A decent, honest review sticks to discussing the book. And if they say they don't like your book, that's very different from saying that they know you personally and don't like you.
That said, very occasionally, someone will write a review out of pure spite. The best thing to do in this situation is to ignore it.
Don't contact the reviewer
Seriously. It doesn't matter how inaccurate their review is, the best thing you can do is ignore it. The reviewer is entitled to their opinion. Writing to them and pointing out everything that is wrong with their review isn't going to change their mind. If anything, it's only going to annoy them.
Don't fret about potential lost sales
A single review isn't going to garner enough interest from the entire reading public to ruin your book. Sure it looks a little shitty if the only review on amazon or goodreads is a one star, but who knows, the next reviwer could give it five stars.
Understand that you cannot please everyone
It would be a boring world if we all liked the same books. Sometimes your book finds the wrong reader or reviewer. The people who don't like your book may not necessarily be the people that you are writing for.
Realise that reviewing is a subjective business
If you don't believe me, visit Amazon or Goodreads and read through some of the one star reviews of Harry Potter. Actually, read through the one star review of any best selling novel, and you'll see that there are plenty of reviewers out there who didn't love it. In fact, just to prove how subjective reading is, here is a list of best selling novels that I can't stand:
- The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCulloch
- Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M Auel
- Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
- No Greater Love by Danielle Steele
- Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James
At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you take your writing seriously. Listen to feedback, but don't allow a negative review to end your career.