One way of dealing with bad reviews is to write the Very Bad Book as Andy Griffiths has done!
Newsflash for authors! Not everyone is going to like your book. In fact, some people are going to dislike it so much they won’t even get past the first few pages. And now, with so many opportunities for reviewers to share their thoughts online about your book, you are going to know exactly how much they love or hate it.
I have to admit, Write About Me has attracted its fair share of bad reviews. The most recent review in a highly-respected Australian magazine – seen as the book bible for individuals and book clubs looking for the next best book to read – plus the experience of one of my US writing friends on the weekend, has prompted me to share my tips on what authors must do when they get a bad review.
It’s heartbreaking for writers when this happens, but there are a few tips to managing those bad reviews.
1. Accept that your book will not appeal to every reader, and move on. Each review is subjective. I remember my Mum saying to me when I first published Write About Me that it’s just like when you go and see a movie. Sometimes it’s a blockbuster but for you, it falls flat. It could be the mood you’re in, it could be the simple fact it’s not your style. There are so many films I love and so many that I don’t – and the same goes for books. Now move on.
2. Accept criticism gracefully, and move on. BUT… I remember my first one-star review for Write About Me. I was aghast at some of the things the reviewer wrote. They had it all wrong! That’s not what I intended when I wrote the book! Hang on, my writing style was deliberately chosen and they hadn’t read it closely enough! They’ve missed the point! How can they say that! Everyone else who’s read it loves it! I have people writing to me every day and coming up to me on the street saying how brilliant it is! You’re wrong!
The simple fact is you can’t engage with everyone who’s read your book. If they didn’t like it, they didn’t like it and it’s their right to express that opinion. BUT, and there is a but. Watch out for trolls and reviewers who have nothing better to do than harass you online. There are ways you can deal with these situations. For example, if someone has published an unfair review on Amazon, authors can ask Amazon via Author Central to remove it. A US author friend of mine had someone publish a scathing review and copy that to all her books. The reviewer stated clearly they hadn’t read the books. Amazon swiftly removed these reviews as they were very much a personal attack not connected to the contents of the books themselves.
3. Say thankyou, and move on. Reading a book takes time and effort, so every time someone takes the time out of their lives to read your book and enter the world you’ve created with so much love and passion, deserves a thank you. A book is such a personal project for writers, but you can’t take it personally if your personal project is rejected or criticised. This is something all creative people face on a daily basis, in fact, it’s something all people face every day. Writers need to develop a thick skin when they choose to publish their work. Once you are in the public domain you are open to public criticism.
Fortunately you are also open to public praise. So take all the praise and put it in a big pile, then go to that pile every time someone criticises your work and bury that criticism right at the bottom. It also helps if you have other writers to talk to – they understand and will provide all necessary comfort and counselling!!