Author Topic: So, how do you handle a bad review?  (Read 4633 times)  

Offline Wayne Stinnett

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So, how do you handle a bad review?
« on: February 05, 2014, 07:13:02 PM »
By bad, I mean horrible. Both of my books have a combined 43 reviews, 35 five star, 6 four star and 1 three star. Then out of nowhere I get a 1 star review. No mention of poor character development, poor grammar, poor punctuation, poor spelling, or unbelievable plot and characters. No, he thought it didn't have enough action in the first three chapters he read before returning it.
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Offline JV

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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2014, 07:15:29 PM »
How do I handle it? Usually, I laugh, especially my last one, "Progressive agenda wrapped in zombie blanket". I immediately shared it with friends. Gave me a good 24 hours of spontaneous chuckling.

Offline Kevis Hendrickson

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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2014, 07:17:30 PM »
I think reviews are fair game. I want readers to express their opinions of my books so other readers can decide whether or not they're for them. Of course, I dislike ever hearing that someone did not enjoy reading one of my books. But that comes with the territory. In my case, I've had readers one star my books because they didn't like my character's hair color all the way to the fact that I used testimonials in the opening pages of my sample. As I said, it's all fair game and I'd rather hear from readers, than not. I won't always like what they have to say, but I want to hear from them nonetheless.

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Offline Jay Allan

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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2014, 07:18:21 PM »
You read it, decide if the criticisms are valid.  If they are, you try to consider them next time.  If they are not, you ignore them.

I can't stress strongly enough that you have to detach emotionally from things like this if you want to do this as a career.  I see people say they don't read reviews, but a lot of negative (or middling) reviews have good points about how you can improve your work.  Good reviews are far less valuable (though more fun).

If you let reviews depress you, you're going to have a hard time.  A quick little wave of unhappiness is one thing, but then let it go.

I have a one star review that gushes about the book (an obvious mistake on the star rating), another one star that lists an old book and basically says, "I didn't read this book, but I can't imagine how anyone can write on the topic better that XXX," and still another that is a ten paragraph rant about how she couldn't download the thing.  You can't let this stuff get to you.

Offline elizabethareeves

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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2014, 07:22:38 PM »
I usually kill some one off in my WIP... jk... I usually share it with my husband so I can vent about it then I can let my anger out. I just don't get it. I am so sorry that you had to get something like that. Some people out there try to bring other writers down just because they are intimidated. I have received one star reviews say things like I hate this genre and that's why I hated this book. I am just baffled by people choosing to read a book in a genre they hate or they only read a few chapters like you were talking about and then leave a review stating it was awful and how they could not get through even 2 chapters.  

Good luck with the book and thank you for sharing your experience.
Elizabeth A Reeves Author of the Cindy Eller Series How (Not) to Kiss a Toad and Goldie Locke and the Were Bears

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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2014, 07:26:14 PM »
It may help to tell yourself that, in a year, you'll have more perspective, and to forgive yourself for not having it now.

I think I should have "Don't overreact" tattooed across my forehead. Wait, across my thigh, where I could see it while I sat at my computer. But like any other emotionally triggering event, that's a whole lot easier to say than to do. Give yourself a break, let yourself be upset, and know that it'll get easier.


Offline redacted

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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2014, 07:28:28 PM »
I don't even read the good reviews. Forget about the bad ones. As long as they bought my book, they're free to say whatever they want. It's their right post-purchase. (Which is why I don't plan to make any of my books free until it has at least 200 5-star reviews or something to blunt nonsense reviews like this lol.)

Offline Wayne Stinnett

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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2014, 07:28:59 PM »
Thanks y'all. Some of what you said really puts things into perspective. So, he thought it boring, because the first few chapters had a lot to do with the setting, boating, and preparing for a hurricane. I'm an avid action/adventure reader and I don't remember ever reading a book that was cover to cover action.

"Progressive agenda wrapped in zombie blanket" - Classic.
NINC President-Elect, 2018. My Amazon Bestselling, ten-volume Jesse McDermitt Series and the spinoff,  three-volume Charity Styles Series, also Amazon Bestsellers, are available in ebook, audiobook, and paperback, with many more exciting adventures to come. In my motivational non-fiction, Blue Collar to No Collar, I provide tips, advice, and strategies for new authors, and is also available in the same formats. Don't forget to visit the Ship's Store for Jesse McDermitt swag.
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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2014, 07:30:10 PM »

Offline Wayne Stinnett

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NINC President-Elect, 2018. My Amazon Bestselling, ten-volume Jesse McDermitt Series and the spinoff,  three-volume Charity Styles Series, also Amazon Bestsellers, are available in ebook, audiobook, and paperback, with many more exciting adventures to come. In my motivational non-fiction, Blue Collar to No Collar, I provide tips, advice, and strategies for new authors, and is also available in the same formats. Don't forget to visit the Ship's Store for Jesse McDermitt swag.
Semper Fi,
Wayne Stinnett | Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon Author Page | Motivational Videos | Down Island Press | Ship's Store Swag

Offline Kevis Hendrickson

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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2014, 07:34:43 PM »
Thanks y'all. Some of what you said really puts things into perspective. So, he thought it boring, because the first few chapters had a lot to do with the setting, boating, and preparing for a hurricane. I'm an avid action/adventure reader and I don't remember ever reading a book that was cover to cover action.

"Progressive agenda wrapped in zombie blanket" - Classic.

One of the awesome things about negative reviews (and why I like them) is because the very same reasons your reviewer laid out why they didn't like the book, will be the exact thing that excites the next reader to buy your book. I had a reader one star one of my books because she didn't like that the heroine had a girlfriend and that the makeout scenes were too descriptive for her taste. No sooner than her review went up, so did sales of my book. There's always a silver lining if you look for it.

You don't know the power of the Dark Side.
Kevis Hendrickson | author website | goodreads

Offline kyokominamino

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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2014, 08:04:04 PM »
By bad, I mean horrible. Both of my books have a combined 43 reviews, 35 five star, 6 four star and 1 three star. Then out of nowhere I get a 1 star review. No mention of poor character development, poor grammar, poor punctuation, poor spelling, or unbelievable plot and characters. No, he thought it didn't have enough action in the first three chapters he read before returning it.

1) I sulk. For at least half an hour.
2) I find someone who loves me and whine to them about it, but within reason.
3) Chocolate.
4) Watch something adorable, like Tom Hiddleston meeting Cookie Monster, or kittens playing in the snow.
5) Find one piece of my writing that I really, really like and read it and assure myself that I am not a plague upon the writing world.
6) Repeat Steps 1-5 as needed. Then I'm over it.

Bad reviews suck. A lot. But it's the name of the game. There is a universal rule in writing: no matter what it is, someone will love it and someone will hate it. At least it means you're engaging them, if that helps. But hey, you also have a buttload of good reviews and some of us pray for that day, so don't sweat it. We got your back. <3

I write about monsters. Rawr.
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Offline ElHawk

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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2014, 08:57:03 PM »
I laugh.

Life's too short to get upset by it.  Poop happens.  And way more people like my books than hate them, so I'm doing something right.

To be honest, I love a good in-depth, scathing review.  If I made a reader feel ANYTHING strongly, I figure I did my job well.


Take Off Your Pants and see what everybody is talking about!
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Offline Maria Romana

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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2014, 09:17:51 PM »
One of the awesome things about negative reviews (and why I like them) is because the very same reasons your reviewer laid out why they didn't like the book, will be the exact thing that excites the next reader to buy your book. I had a reader one star one of my books because she didn't like that the heroine had a girlfriend and that the makeout scenes were too descriptive for her taste. No sooner than her review went up, so did sales of my book. There's always a silver lining if you look for it.

^^This, exactly^^

See, here's the thing. That reader is not a member of your burgeoning fan club, and he never will be. He was looking for some super-fast action thriller with minimal detail, description, and character development. Judging by all your other 5-star reviews, I would say those latter features are what your book has going for it. So now, one-star-review guy has warned off others like him who don't like such books. Now you will have fewer disappointed readers returning books and leaving bad reviews, and, as Kevis mentioned, more and more folks who are looking for exactly what you do so well. This reader has endorsed you as the go-to guy for cool stories about boating in the Keys with lots of realistic details and in-depth characters. (Come to think of it, my dad would probably love this book.) Yay for one-star-review guy!

:) Maria

Offline Bookside Manner

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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2014, 09:20:17 PM »
I just quote The Big Lebowski: "Yeah, well, that's just, like, your OPINION, man."
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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2014, 09:28:15 PM »
I find that red wine and dark chocolate go a long way in soothing my feelings. :)


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Offline Philip Gibson

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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2014, 09:34:30 PM »
I think we are hardwired to pay more attention to bad news than to good news. I think it's an inbuilt survival mechanism. Even to the point where we are inclined to give bad reviews more credence than they deserve. Your bad review doesn't appear to have any validity, and you know you shouldn't be grieving over it and giving it more emotional thought than it deserves.

But you do, or you wouldn't have posted here.

A practical way I have of countering this negative tendency is to extract the best key adjectives from the majority of my reviews and post them on the wall next to my right shoulder as I sit typing, to remind me of what the majority of my readers think of my books. Those people are after all the people we should keep in our minds, not the 10%-20% of people we will never please.

Whenever I have a tendency to feel down about my work, I look over at the list and see words and phrases like: Awesome! Innovative! Compelling approach! Really cool idea! Brilliant! Enjoyed the format! Very readable, etc. etc.

I'm sure your many 5-star reviews have similar phrases. Type some of them out and stick them on your wall next to where you sit when writing.


What if there had been social media during important historical events?
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Offline death wizard

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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2014, 10:08:57 PM »
1) I sulk. For at least half an hour.
2) I find someone who loves me and whine to them about it, but within reason.
3) Chocolate.
4) Watch something adorable, like Tom Hiddleston meeting Cookie Monster, or kittens playing in the snow.
5) Find one piece of my writing that I really, really like and read it and assure myself that I am not a plague upon the writing world.
6) Repeat Steps 1-5 as needed. Then I'm over it.

Bad reviews suck. A lot. But it's the name of the game. There is a universal rule in writing: no matter what it is, someone will love it and someone will hate it. At least it means you're engaging them, if that helps. But hey, you also have a buttload of good reviews and some of us pray for that day, so don't sweat it. We got your back. <3

Ha!!!! Excellent!
I am the author of The Death Wizard Chronicles, a six-book epic fantasy that is big on monsters, swords and sorcery but also steeped in Eastern philosophy with a lot going on between the lines. Books 1-4 are currently available. Books 5-6 are coming this year. I am a big fan of fantasy, especially Tolkien, Martin, Donaldson and Erikson -- and am always on the lookout for more reading pleasure.
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Offline anniejocoby

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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2014, 10:13:27 PM »
Haters gonna hate. Just repeat that one hundred times, because it's true. Haters gonna hate.

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Offline Wayne Stinnett

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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2014, 04:37:40 AM »
^^This, exactly^^

See, here's the thing. That reader is not a member of your burgeoning fan club, and he never will be. He was looking for some super-fast action thriller with minimal detail, description, and character development. Judging by all your other 5-star reviews, I would say those latter features are what your book has going for it. So now, one-star-review guy has warned off others like him who don't like such books. Now you will have fewer disappointed readers returning books and leaving bad reviews, and, as Kevis mentioned, more and more folks who are looking for exactly what you do so well. This reader has endorsed you as the go-to guy for cool stories about boating in the Keys with lots of realistic details and in-depth characters. (Come to think of it, my dad would probably love this book.) Yay for one-star-review guy!

:) Maria

Thanks, Maria. I hadn't even thought of it in that context. Of course I don't want to disappoint my readers, but those looking for high speed, low drag, knuckle busting action aren't MY readers.
NINC President-Elect, 2018. My Amazon Bestselling, ten-volume Jesse McDermitt Series and the spinoff,  three-volume Charity Styles Series, also Amazon Bestsellers, are available in ebook, audiobook, and paperback, with many more exciting adventures to come. In my motivational non-fiction, Blue Collar to No Collar, I provide tips, advice, and strategies for new authors, and is also available in the same formats. Don't forget to visit the Ship's Store for Jesse McDermitt swag.
Semper Fi,
Wayne Stinnett | Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon Author Page | Motivational Videos | Down Island Press | Ship's Store Swag

Offline Sean Sweeney

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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #20 on: February 06, 2014, 04:52:28 AM »
Drink.
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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #21 on: February 06, 2014, 05:03:43 AM »
Give yourself a break, let yourself be upset, and know that it'll get easier.


It really does get easier.

Wayne, you're actually doing very, very well so far on the review front. 41 out of 43 readers gave you 4- or 5-stars? That's fantastic!



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Offline Redbloon

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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #22 on: February 06, 2014, 05:44:15 AM »
The first time I got a 1* review I was very upset. Now I make a point of analysing it a bit. Are they right? Sometimes they are and in this day and age it could be an easy fix (typos etc). If they fundamentally dislike the book because it's not to their taste rather than because it's badly written, as in your case, then it's best to accept that you can't please everyone all the time. The important point is that you love what you've written and so do a lot of other people.

Alternatively you could write a rollercoaster ride of a story where action is followed by more action without any opportunity for the reader to take breath until they are gasping with exhaustion as the stakes are wracked higher and higher until it all culminates in a huge explosion of death and mayhem. And dedicate it to the reviewer. It's probably best not to hit the publish button on that one though  ;D

Offline usedtocare

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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #23 on: February 06, 2014, 06:32:54 AM »
Haters gonna hate. Just repeat that one hundred times, because it's true. Haters gonna hate.

Truth. 8)

Offline Quiss

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Re: So, how do you handle a bad review?
« Reply #24 on: February 06, 2014, 06:44:34 AM »
Upon receiving a bad review I crochet a little voodoo doll and write the reviewer's username on it with beige crayon. Then I paste it to the wall with glitter glue and stand before it, hurling invectives at it (completely ignoring correct grammar) and cursing their entire family tree and ancestors yet to come. Then I bury the doll in the backyard while quietly giggling to myself.
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