Whether someone has published one book or twenty, bad reviews happen. Hopefully, the positive reviews will outweigh the bad one, but regardless, there is always value in receiving the bad reviews with the good. Here’s why:
A review is a review
Meaning that someone is talking about your book and giving it exposure. Don’t let the fact that it is a bad review override its value as exposure for your book. Even books that only achieve an overall score of 3-stars on Amazon, Goodreads, or NetGalley can pull in lots of readers. This is because one person’s opinion is just that, their opinion, and not everyone will use it to judge whether or not they should read your book. The point is that someone has read your book before them, so it’s ok to take the plunge and read it for themselves.
Feedback - positive or negative - will make you a better writer
Granted, everyone has read unhelpful reviews that tear down a book without giving reasons as to why they hated it or the reasons they give are vague (i.e. it was too long, the cover didn’t reflect the story). But, the majority of reviews will include feedback you can take with you when you start to write your next book, or when you consider whether to edit your existing book and re-release it.
If the reviewer is someone on Goodreads, and they specifically noted something about your book that you’d like more information about, you may be able to reach out to that reviewer and gently ask if they wouldn’t mind giving you more details of what they didn’t/did like. Keep in mind that some reviewers may ignore your request, which is their right. And, for those reviewers who leave a vague review, let it go and move on to the next review.
Now, the DON’Ts of getting a bad review
- Don’t post a “response” to the review on Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media platform, or worse, on the site where the review appears. This is bad form and likely the mark of an immature author.
- Don’t harass a reviewer who ignores your request for more information about what they noted that they didn’t/did like in their review or who responds in a less than helpful way.
- Don’t ask a reviewer to change their review. Again, this is bad form. Authors should never appear to be trying to influence the opinion of a reviewer through niceties or worse, bullying.
- And, lastly, don’t let a bad review convince you that you’re worthless as a writer, because again, one person’s opinion is no more than that person’s opinion. So, try to avoid the temptation to rant and rave about the review to your friends and family, or cry over your first or 50th bad review. Learn from it.