Getting a bad review is inevitable. Every book or creative project you release to the masses will eventually land at the feet of someone who isn’t a fan and wants to let others know how much they didn’t like your work. Reading a review bashing something you put months or years of your life into can be upsetting. But once your work is out to the world, how people receive it is out of your control.
Despite this feeling of powerlessness, there are ways that you can reclaim your power over a bad review. Let’s look at FIVE great ways to do just that!
#1 – Accept Them
This can be hard to do at first, but accepting that negative reviews are part of publishing and releasing a novel to the public will go a long way toward keeping you focused on your next project and preventing that negativity from influencing your work.
Remember that any author you love and idolize has received negative reviews. If they can accept it and keep writing, so can you.
#2 – Embrace Them
If you’ve written something edgy and provocative, maybe negative reviews can be used as a marketing tool. Many people consider negative reviews a badge of honor; their work has affected someone to the point that they had to express their dislike in words for the world to see.
#3 – Learn From Them
Negative reviews that go after your book’s content are easy to dismiss since you know what’s in the book and know it might bother some readers. This is especially true if your book contains violence, profanity, or sexual content.
However, if the criticism is more detailed and the review gives specifics about what didn’t work for them, you may want to take those points into consideration. In my novel Midnight House, one reviewer commented that the main character’s younger sister’s dialogue sounded too grown up for her age in the book. I consider this constructive criticism. The next time I write a younger character, I will be more mindful of their dialogue.
If you can find a few takeaways that make you a better writer, that’s great. But never change your writing style or how you write stories based on a negative review.
#4 – Laugh at Them
Sometimes, all you can do is laugh. Often, negative reviews will either miss the point of your book entirely or even showcase the bias that led to their criticism.
My most recent novel, The Sexual Misadventures of Alicia Williams, Alpha Female, received a negative review when the female reviewer realized I was a male author. Once she discovered that, her opinion of the book changed. Suddenly, she couldn’t recommend the book to anyone and added that she would not seek out any other books I wrote.
When I first read this review, I was stunned. But as I processed it, I realized the absurdity of it and couldn’t help but laugh. She liked the book until she found out I was a guy.
I have since shared this review with others. This is another excellent way to remove the power of a negative review by talking about it with friends and family and laughing about it.
#5 – Ignore Them
Write the book. Publish the book. Market the book. Repeat. If you can avoid reading or dealing with negative reviews, that’s an excellent path to take. Often, they are a distraction that contributes nothing to you as a writer. Your goal is to move on to the next project and not wallow in the text of one or two negative reviews.
The Reality of Negative Reviews
For the most part, negative reviews are a rarity. You’ll usually get three-, four-, or five-star reviews on your work, but occasionally a bad review will slip in. For some reason, we’re wired to fixate on these one-off negative reviews instead of being happy about all the positive ones we’ve acquired.
This is why having a game plan and being mentally prepared to handle negative reviews is important. The five ways listed above are positive and constructive methods of dealing with something that is ultimately out of your hands.
What positive ways have you used to deal with negative reviews? Leave a comment and let me know!