by Carole Brown
I remember the first “three star, bad” review I received. Devastation. Hurt. Disappointment. Bewilderment. Anger.
How could they?
Yet, someone had and did “hate” my book. I wanted to cry, to have my friends and fellow-authors sympathize with me, to share it with everyone how someone could hate my beloved, debut book.
The advice I got from my friends?
- We all get those.
- Three stars isn’t that bad
- Get over it.
And, yes, they loved me. But I needed to grow up as an author. So, my advice to you today is, when you get a poor review:
Take a Step Back
- Give yourself time to relax and distance yourself from your book and a bad review
- If you can, work on a different manuscript, or at least, re-read your own book with fresh eyes.
- Only then re-read the review
- Once you’ve re-read the negative review, can you glean anything worthwhile from it?
- Are there fixable errors, weak spots and/or possible things you neglected to include?
- Can you see that the reviewer is honestly trying to give advice (even if a bit harshly or insensitively hurtful)?
- If it’s obviously a “troll” review, forget about it and ignore.
- That some reviewers don’t know the proper way to review
- That some reviewers consider “three stars” as a high rating. I received one “three star” rating, which had me raising my brows, but the review was filled with praise for the book. I learned that the three stars meant it rated highly with the reviewer.
- Just because the reader bought/received the wrong genre, that doesn’t make it a “bad” book, and reviewing it harshly for that reason is not the proper way to review. Personal preferences and wrong genres are not good reasons for poor reviews. Writing issues, weak research, and a lack of proper editing are.
- That most, if not all, authors receive poor reviews. There are many reasons for them. Study, if you wish, the reason for yours and act accordingly. Meaning, ignore it and toughen up. If a person is planning to stay in the writing business, you’ll probably get more–many more–of those. Either quit reading them or put on your tough armor and get through it–unscathed!
- Too many negative reviews raise a concern: Did I write a “bad” book? It never hurts to re-evaluate your book. As stated above, make sure the edits are crystal-fine, that your research is impeccably correct, plot lines in order, etc. Never undermine your work with sloppy writing.
- Learn that when asking for an honest review, be sure the people you request from are interested in your mystery/suspense (romance, sci-fi, etc). If reviewers love your genre, you’re more apt to get favorable reviews.
- When you find those individuals, ask for honest feedback. When you send arc copies, ask for a timeline and where and when the reader will be able to post reviews.
- Look ahead to your next manuscript. Plot, edit and write. Keep learning as you go. Stay humble and willing to accept suggestions from readers. Find the best critique partners you can; ones that will do you the favor of being gentle, but honest, who loves your work, and is able to see the “holes” you might overlook. When you find that person(s), be sure to show thankfulness. They’re hard to come by!
- Move past any useless negativity and use the constructive criticism to improve.
- Never respond to negative reviews.
- Never quit writing.
Have you ever received poor reviews? How did you respond? Were you able to move past the disappointment?