Thursday, January 19, 2023

Dealing with Negative Reviews

screenshot of an iPhone screen showing book apps: Libby, Audible, Goodreads, Storygraph, Hoopla, RBdigital
    Goodreads | StoryGraph | Audible

When you put a book out into the world it’s no longer yours and everyone that comes into contact with it will have an opinion. That’s right, we’re talking about the mentality of negative reviews this week!

The question was if we recognize our fight-or-flight response to negative reviews and do we do anything to stop it. Before you get to that point, I think it’s helpful to have a review plan. 

I know authors who read, some of them even respond, to every review. Some like to grab quotes from glowing reviews to use in promo. I chose the opposite direction and don’t read reviews of my own work. And there are countless variations between that might work for you, but having a plan of how you will handle/read reviews before they’re out there is important. 

There are a lot of reasons a reader may leave a negative review. KAK pointed out that some of the negative ones make her giggle with glee because their take on the book was exactly what she wanted. Sometimes readers misunderstand the point a book, it happens! Sometimes what hits one reader as off-putting is what will draw another reader to the book. That’s the whole there’s no bad review mentality. And yes, sometimes a review can make you question your ability to write. Sometimes it stings, and then you have to decide what to do about it. 

Which brings me back to having a plan before the reviews are posted. I guess that’s my lab background creeping in again, follow the process and things will turn out alright. 

If a review gets under your skin and you can’t shake it, go back to the reasons you wrote the book in the first place—what was your definition of success for that book before it was released and did you achieve it? If a reviewer points out some technical aspects that could be improved upon, be prepared to step back and examine them, you may want to take some time before really digging into it if it triggered anger, but there may be some useful points that could strengthen your next book. Maybe the reviewer can’t articulate what lead them to not like your book. In which case, don’t dwell on it as those have no merit. Sometimes a bad day makes for a bad read, nothing to be done about it. 

If all else fails, and the whole art is subjective thing makes you want to snap your laptop shut, check out reviews of a book you love. You’ll find good and bad reviews and it will remind you that not everyone likes the same thing. 

Do you have a method or plan for handling reviews? Has it changed over the years?

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