How do you deal with bad reviews?

What if everyone hates it?” is  one of the most frequently wondered questions that goes on in an authors brain when the book is written, and sent to beta readers/agents/publishers/editors, and then on the shelves. It’s often followed with lots of stomping about, deep breathing, self loathing and deep breaths – well, unless that’s just me?

Odds are on that not everyone is going to hate it, but somebody will. After all, you can’t please everyone, and with the shield of the internet we all know that people are a little bit forthright with their opinions. By forthright, I’d say they forget that the review their writing isn’t just to help people decide not to buy the book they dislike so angrily, and don’t realise that their words are just about to ensure that the authors kids have fish fingers and chips in front of Netflix while their mum weeps into the gin bottle and a family sized bag of bacon flavoured crisps. 

There are lots of types of negative reviews, honest and constructive (which while is a punch in the stomach is good for learning – YES IT IS YES IT IS YES IT IS), deliberately picky, disparaging and condescending are just a few. I won’t focus on the specifics of each, but there is one I feel we should get out of the way now. 

You see, any review that includes a phrase along the lines of “I hated this book, but then I don’t like any books in this genre” – should be dismissed completely. These are automatically not one star reviews of your work, but of the genre as a whole. Ignore it and dismiss the fact that it drags your star rating down a little bit.

But what do you do when it really does happen? When somebody gives you two stars, along with a less than complimentary commentary.

You could dwell on it of course, cry and get drunk. Before vowing to hunt down whoever would be so mean as to say something negative about something you’ve poured your heart and soul into.

But what’s that really going to achieve? Except giving yourself a headache, and a worse feeling of self-loathing and disappointment the next day. Not that I’ve done that.

You could reply – and I don’t mean hunt them out on twitter and corner them, that could be considered a little stalker-like. Amazon give you a chance to reply or comment on reviews, you could defend your work. Tell them that you have it wrong, that those two stars weren’t warranted; they must not have the concept. After all, THIS IS YOUR BREAD AND BUTTER MAN! DON’T YOU KNOW THAT?!!

That might make you feel better, but only briefly. Kind of like when you reply to an email in rage, the instant feeling of satisfaction soon dies down with your hot-headedness. Plus you know, people are entitled to their opinions aren’t they? Urgh.

Or you could close your eyes, count to ten, and read some of your good reviews. You could slip into the mindset, that you haven’t made it, until you’ve got a bad review, and every review counts, and for every bad review, the good ones are more credible. After all who wants 500 five star reviews? (ME I DO!)

Then you could forget about it, and not think about asking your mum to set up multiple amazon accounts so she can counter review anybody who dares say anything negative.

I haven’t done that – I love my mum but she is dangerous enough with one amazon account.

Writing Bubble


  1. Marija Smits

    I hear you! (And I can feel your pain!) Why is it so much easier to focus on (and remember) the few bad reviews rather than the many good ones? That’s human nature for you!
    Wishing you a Happy Christmas. 🙂

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  2. Maddy@writingbubble

    This is what scares me about being a writer – other people reading my work. Of course, other people reading my work is also what I love about being a writer. damn it. But the idea of getting negative review terrifies me and the only reason that for me it is an IDEA not an actual fact is that outside of my blog and a few little things, I’m unpublished. So, in a funny kind of way, the fact you have negative reviews is, from my perspective, something to be envious of! You’re out there in the big wide world, a proper author who people read enough of for some not to like your work. See, you’re awesome. That is all. (apart from Merry Christmas and Thanks for linking to #whatImWriting!)

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      I think being a writer is a terrifying job. Yes, it’s not dangerous in the traditional sense, but I think anything creative puts you out there in a way that could make you so fragile if you don’t throw your shoulders back and prepare yourself. I’m totally not prepared.

  3. Mummy Tries

    Interesting post hon. I had a one star review saying ‘how on earth can you get passed the past when it’s constantly in your face’ – errrr hello, did you actually read the book, because it doesn’t sound like you did??!! I was also trolled on a recent guest post promoting the book, which left me feeling rather unnerved.

    Anyhooooooo, you’re doing amazingly well with the amount of positive reviews you’re getting. I think anyone saying they hate the whole genre needs to be completely ignored, why on earth read a book if you hate the genre? People can be such dumbasses 🙁

    Hugs xxx

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  4. Alice @ The Filling Glass

    It is very easy, as Marija says, to focus on the negative feedback at the expense of the positives. I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion and sometimes that may not agree with yours. However where that is relayed in a cruel and personal manner, then I see it as a person needing to take a long, hard look at themselves and their own problems. Doesn’t stop you feeling wounded though. #Whatimwriting

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  5. tracey bowden

    I recently reviewed a book I didn’t enjoy and had to work very hard on being as constructive as possible (not on of your books!) as I hate getting negative feedback on my stories on my blog. I didn’t want to just write that I didn’t like it as I knew that wouldn’t be fair/or nice as like you say you put your soul into your writing. I did have a few bloggers a while back who completely misunderstood one of my pieces of writing and left awful comments it which put me off writing anything for a long time but it made me work harder to prove them wrong and come back with some better pieces #WhatImWriting

  6. Agent Spitback

    Yes, this is exactly what I am afraid of as well…Like you say, the reality is that not everyone is going to like what you write and we all have to accept that, and not take it too personally. I had to laugh at your mother with the Amazon Account! #WhatImWriting

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