Every writer, actor, director, and singer gets ‘em – and we all hate ‘em. A bad review can really ruin your day. So, the question becomes, what do you do about a bad review?
Well, as with most things, that depends. You can’t just ignore a bad review out of hand. It may actually contain valuable information. Then again, if it reads more like a personal attack than a real critique of your work – you should simply dump it and move on. The key to coping with a bad review is to take what you can from it that has value, and ignore the rest.
Use ALL reviews to become a better writer!
Here are a few insights into using a bad review (or reviews) to benefit you:
- Recurring themes – in the reviews you receive indicates an ongoing issue that you need to take care of. If multiple reviewers mention that the dialogue you write for you characters seems stilted or unrealistic for example, you need to consider that they may be right, and fix that.
- Planted reviews – for the most part, the reviews you’ll receive are legitimate. However, in the internet age, planted reviews can run wild and do real damage. There are people out there who, for reasons of their own, enjoy causing harm. If you can discover who they are you can discredit them, otherwise, just ignore them.
- 5-Star Reviews – are great! Just don’t let them go to your head. Getting a single great review does NOT mean you know all there is to know about writing. It merely means you’ve made a good start! Develop a thick skin; feel good about the 5-star reviews, but read the 1-star reviews carefully, looking for possible problems. I’ve found that the 4-star reviews to be most helpful, gave me the best critiques, yet even the 3-star reviews are worth reading.
Remember, the more reviews you receive, the greater the impact your book has had on readers.
If a review seems objective and offers valuable criticism of your work, there is simply no reason to take offense. Take the information, use it to become a better writer, and move on.
On the other hand, if you receive an extremely negative review that has no basis in fact, then the person who wrote it has no idea what he/she is talking about and there is no reason to respect such harsh, unreasonable judgment of your work. Ignore it and move on.
I’ve found a great resource for emerging writers of every type: fiction, articles, blogs, and more. Writer’s Digest is a site by writers, for writers, and can likely help you to better cope with bad reviews.