Bad reviews suck. Seriously. There’s no other way to put it. I remember the first time I got one and I was literally crushed for days. It didn’t matter that twenty other random readers had left glowing 5 star reviews, because that one person, that one reader, she had thought it was the biggest piece of crap to ever hit the kindle. I mean it. She tore into everything. The story line, the characters, the editing. Then she even went so far as to say that I had ripped off a song to write the book.
It was horrible.
It was humiliating.
It was hurtful.
It was her opinion. And let’s face it. We all have those.
I’m not looking to give up mine or my right to express them, are you?
Now, you’re probably saying – No of course not, but there’s a wrong and a right way of doing things and these people are just trying to be mean on purpose.
It comes down to the same thing I tell my seven year old when someone is being mean to her. You cannot control how other people act. You can only control how you respond.
And I get that it’s easier said than done. I’ve seen the bad, ugly and the obscene of those reviews. Especially on Goodreads. Holy shit. Those people go all out, don’t they?! I mean, you almost have to wonder if this is their only creative outlet. And book bashing or not, some of them are hysterical. I have to commend the bad reviewers for the amount of thought that goes into every one of them. Animated images and all. I mean, think about how strongly they must feel about what you’ve written to spend that much time on putting their thoughts together after. Personally, I think if you’re at the receiving end of one of those, you should give yourself a nice big pat on the back ~ You INSPIRED someone today! Maybe not in the way you had intended, but in the end, your work spoke to them so intensely that they couldn’t just let it go. And no matter which way you spin it, that my fellow writers, is a compliment.
Anytime a new piece of art goes out into the world, the artist risks complete and utter ridicule. The more raw and honest the work, the greater the chances of someone coming along and shitting all over it. That’s just how it is. You can’t go around flying your freak flag and expect everyone to appreciate it. They won’t. Some people will go out of their way to tell you that you’re wrong. That you’re stupid and you suck. That’s the price of being different in this society. The reward is in all of the people who connect with you and your work and see the beauty and courage in what you’ve done. Everyone has to decide for themselves which one outweighs the other.
Bottom line: You get a bad review - You suck it up and move on.
You do not comment.
You do not inquire why they felt this way.
You do not FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY IN PUBLISHING explain why they didn't get your work of art.
You do not email, Facebook, Tweet or send smoke signals. I repeat, you do not make contact in ANY way.
You also do not get your friends or family to do any of the above.
Because it's not personal. Even when it feels that way. And - this is important - I promise you it will not have a negative effect on your sales in the long run. In fact, it has been said time and time again, that negative reviews can actually INCREASE sales because readers become skeptical of books with only glowing 5 and 4 star reviews and feel a book has more validity when less than stellar reviews are also present. Meaning someone other than your mother and best friend has read the book.
So, you got a 1 star? Congrats. You've made it. Your book is legit now.
Better start writing the next one...