For any writer, be it of book, script, article or blog, reviews are not just important, they are vital.
Like it or not, good reviews sell books.
However, as much as we’d like every review to be a glowing endorsement of our creativity, the reality is that if someone buys a book they also purchase the absolute right not to enjoy it. And alongside that comes the option to hit the internet and slaughter both the work and the author if they feel disappointed or worse, cheated.
This is obviously great when it happens to a rival but when it happens to you, and it will, it hurts. Bad. After all, if you’ve put your heart and soul into writing a book, having the former ripped from your chest and publicly stamped on is not exactly a barrel of laughs.
Yet the sad fact is that no matter how good a writer you are, bad reviews are an inevitability and dealing with them goes with the territory.
So how do you do it?
- Accept them for what they are: an individual opinion. Yes, they’re tough to accept and trust me when I tell you that a bad review can eat away at you forever. However, if you’re happy to wallow in the affirmation of a 5* review, you’re got to learn to take the 1* criticism.
- Never respond. Whilst it’s always tempting to rip into a bad reviewer like a rabid dog, leaving aside the fact that it’s bad manners, it’s also inviting trouble. Trolls love a good author spat and if they get hold of you they can do more damage to both your book and your career than you can ever imagine. Don’t give them that opportunity.
- Develop a thick skin, and fast. The more books you produce, the more negative reviews you’re going to get. Conversely, you’re also going to get more positive reviews so keep re-reading those to balance things out.
- Be honest. Reviews aren’t just feedback, they’re market research. If you’re getting more bad than good, it might well be that there is actually some truth in what’s being said. Good reviews will always tell you what works, bad ones will often tell you the rest so utilise both as learning tools and use that information to help you make your next book better.
- Enjoy them. Even a bad review means that someone has read your book, YOUR book! Be proud of that and remember, not only does each and every review push your book up the amazon rankings, it also means income. Why do you think authors are so desperate for them? Even bad ones.
On the subject of books, I’m delighted to announce that the third book in The Crew/Top Dog trilogy will be published by Caffeine Nights in May 2020.
I’m not going to give too much away about the plot other than to say that the central character gets involved in even more dubious activity than previously. And if you’ve read the first two books, you’ll know that bar is set pretty high!
I can also announce that I’m currently working on a project for Netflix, but that’s all you’re getting!
Just in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.
Further information at dougiebrimson.com
6 thoughts on “5 ways to handle bad reviews.”
I don’t really mind the odd bad review. If all my reviews are good then I’m not being controversial enough. One of my favourites was;
“Garbage, the greatest load of pretentious nonsense that I ever had the misfortune read”
And I absolutely loved this one, which made me wonder why she read the book in the first place;
“Badly written, uninteresting, nasty attitude towards everything and everyone, except, for some reason, a few of his highly obnoxious colleagues. An altogether unpleasant bunch of people with whom to spend more than five minutes”
The best one I ever has was in Time Out and the review of Everywhere We Go simply said: ‘Yeah right, fuck off’.
So I wonder who that reviewer supported then
It’s not my experience that all so-called “reviewers” have actually paid for books. In fact I’d go further: there are sad folk out there who lurk around Goodreads and so on and simply click 1 star for the fun of it. You can spot them a mile off, but they bring your averages down. Some people say it’s a great book then give it 1 star somehow – I think that’s a ‘keyboard skills issue’.
On the other hand, a 3-star or 4-star review is well worth reading. Once.
Interestingly, the very first piece of advice I ever received as a fiction author was “develop a very, very thick skin”. It was also the best advice I ever received.
Good article, by the way.
I generally tell people thinking about writing that the most important piece of advice they will ever get is ‘if you can’t take criticism, don’t do it.’
I just had a geezer write to me – in relation to one of my books – and say, “Fuck off and live in a country that has shariah law.”
I’ve asked him Why? but he hasn’t come back as yet