Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Indie Life: How To Handle Negative Reviews

It's time for this month's Indie Life post, a monthly feature run by the awesome writers over at the Indelibles blog. Every second Wednesday of the month those taking part will post something related to indie life, such the highs, lows, triumphs, struggles, and milestones of going it alone.


Today I'm talking about negative reviews.

We've all hopefully experienced the joys of receiving a positive review - when a reader has not only liked your book, but liked it enough to tell the world they did and why. We've also (or at some point will) experience the lows of a negative review. The question is how do you as a writer handle those negative reviews?

To answer that question, I'm going to break negative reviews down into two types:

  1. The one or two-star review that gives you no indication as to why they disliked your book, other than to say it was rubbish and/or to avoid it.
  2. The one, two, or three-star review that tells you why they didn't like your book.

My opinion with regard to the first type is to just ignore them. As painful as they are, there will always be people who do not like or get your writing. It's a fact of life. Most importantly, do not comment on or react to these reviews. Take it on the chin and accept it will happen.

With regard to the second type of negative review, treat it as a type of constructive criticism. If a reader has taken the time to say what they disliked, pay attention. Of course you may not agree with everything they say, but is there anything in there that actually may hold some truth? In a recent three-star review I received for Passing Time, a reader said they felt my stories were rushed and needed more time. One thing I have heard from friends who have read my stories is 'make them longer'. So, I have taken their advice and the negative reviewers comments seriously. I am working to ensure my stories are longer and do not leave anything out. 

No writer wants to hear someone disliked their work. It does hurt. We are human, and we have fragile egos. But we can choose how we react to them, turning a negative into a positive.

What about you? How do you handle negative reviews?

11 comments:

  1. I try to be philosophical, tell myself everyone has different tastes. And reading the good reviews again helps...

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  2. Yes, it does hurt if someone doesn't like our work, even if it's just because they have different taste! I remind myself of all the many positive reviews I've got and that helps a lot :-)

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    1. I think that's the only thing we can do, Rachel. Remind ourselves that there are people who like our work.

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  3. Great tips. Bad reviews can drive me to great chocolate eating binges! I recently received a three star review for my latest book by a reviewer. They stated what they liked and didn't like. It was a fair review, but it still got me down. I use them to help me better myself, and hopefully the next book will be the best yet.

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    1. A chocolate binge sounds good to me!

      My first three-star review did get me down. I can't lie. But I told myself off for wallowing, and got back to writing.

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  4. The negative reviews do sting. My least favorite are the 2 star-no comment reviews.

    And while I appreciate the notion, the 3 star glowing reviews make me a little crazy, too. If you literally have nothing bad to say about my story, and in fact go far, far the other direction, how can it just be average? lol

    My best suggestion is to avoid reading them completely. Good, bad, or otherwise. Which is impossible to do, but that's what I recommend. :)

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    1. Low ratings with no comments. I can see why they'd drive any writer crazy, EJ.

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  5. So far my method for dealing with negative reviews is to just avoid reading them. I stopped reading all reviews, positive and negative, because I knew I didn't have the thick skin required for the negative. I know it comes with the territory and I need to learn to deal with them, but I'm not there yet.

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  6. Hi Ellie - I guess if you can see something valid in the review -then it's worth thinking about and as in your case - your friends had mentioned similar - so good to you for adjusting ..

    Cheers Hilary

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  7. The most painful review is to be ignored completely.

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