Bad Reviews Part 2: What To Do About Them


If you're a writer, whether you're just starting out or you've sold millions of copies, this is what you should do when someone makes public their poor opinion of your masterpiece in the form of a bad review:

NOTHING.

Bad reviews go with the territory for writers. We have to accept it as an occupational hazard, shrug our shoulders and move on. In fact, in this blog post from last year I advocate sending them chocolate.

In reality, of course, we agonise over our poor reviews, dwell on them constantly, analyse them, mourn the loss of our writing dream, and finally convince ourselves that writing the book was all just a big waste of time. Some writers protest them in the comments, or get their supportive friends to do so. Some plead with the reviewer to retract the review. I even heard of one author appealing to Amazon to get a bad review taken down. (Wow, wouldn't it be great if we could delete all our bad reviews!)

Be warned - engaging with the reviewer looks petulant and petty, unless it's to politely thank them for their time and honesty. Not only does it achieve nothing, but it harms our public image, and that matters. In fact, give the bad reviews the same treatment you do the good ones. In my case, that means posting them on my Facebook page and thanking the reviewer. (But no longer sending them chocolate.)

For the avoidance of doubt, I welcome all reviews of my books, good and bad, from those who have actually read them. And the picture which accompanies this blog is of my worst review. Feel free to go and read it properly - here's the link.

The best ever gracious response to a review I got was from Wm. Paul Young. I hated The Shack and gave it just one star on Amazon. But a year later Young's publicist contacted me and asked me to review his second book on my blog and on Amazon and Goodreads. She even sent me a free, pre-publication hardback copy. Now that's respect for an opinion. Unfortunately I didn't think much of the second book either.

Comments

  1. Hi Anna, it is really hard to ignore bad reviews, but as you say, they go with the territory. Maybe the character being most developed by a writer is our own. Anne Stenhouse

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  2. Great insights, Anna. Bad reviews ARE painful, but as you said, it's part of being an author, and reacting defensively just makes the author--not the reviewer--look bad.

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  3. Great advice. I think the natural inclination is to go into defense mode, but you're right. The best thing to do is nothing or a polite acknowledgement.

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