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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So how do you feel when you first read that review that tears your book to shreds? Or maybe the reviewer even takes deliberate slams at you, the author.

Do you go through a period when you contemplate quitting the writing business?

Do you laugh, cry, swear?

Me, I consider bad reviews as either learning experiences or a good laugh for the day. Let's face it, we can't please everyone. I tend to focus more of my energy on the good reviews. Remembering that my book made a reader laugh until she spewed coffee on her computer, is far more rewarding than stewing over the negative. 

PJ
 

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I agree with the school of thought that you can't please everyone, so why bother trying. It's when the negative reviews start to outweigh the positive ones that you should begin to worry. I had a 1-star review recently and just showed it off to my friends.
 

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DougLance said:
I'll read it and accept the point of view, then file it away into my subconscious and continue writing.
Same here. I just think about it for a bit, figure out if there's anything I can take away from it to better my writing (Sometimes there's not. If it's a matter of personal taste that caused the bad review, I just chalk it off to 'you can't please everyone') and then I move on.
 

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I agree
There actually might be something in there you need to pay attention to (as is in my case)
But don't reply to it
Move on

My take?

There are over 6 billion people on the planet

Out of all of that, maybe a million or two are actively literate
(Beyond JUST reading newspapers and magazine articles. These few souls actually take time to read books!)

Out of that number....
Some will read your work

And out of THAT number- one or two just will not like it. Ever.

Move on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Okay, other than Philip, who feels like the Hulk, and SWolf, who feels like a dancing bear, the rest of us are pretty much on the same page about bad reviews. I agree, as long as there are more positive than negative, that's what's most important. Also, sometimes a bad review can be helpful. I don't believe in the writer who knows everything about writing. In order to grow as writers, we should be able to evolve and adapt, especially as the market changes. I remember when there was a lot of resistance to the erotica and paranormal genres, and now many of those same critics have jumped on the bandwagon.

PJ
 

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I try not to read them. Best not to read any reviews, good or bad. Either way you're thrown off balance, a big head or knocked to the ground. But as they say, the best advice doesn't stop us from ignoring it, and I'm no better, falling prey to that irresistible urge, "What did they say? What did they say?"

And this is one of the disadvantages of self-publishing -- we have to sift through our reviews looking for the better snippets to use in promoting our work. Commercially published authors have other people to do that, along with all the rest we choose to tackle on our own.

Anyway... when I get a bad review, my skin gets hot, like I might be in trouble. Weird stuff. Then it fades, I'm bummed out for a while, but then I come back and read it again, trying to see it objectively. Sometimes that's impossible, not because I can't get objective about it, rather the thing is too ridiculous. But most aren't, and often poor reviews have cues that are worth considering. And once I've calmed down and considered these cues, I realize even the poor reviews have something valuable to say -- even toward selling the title.

An example is a one-star review for my first title. The cool part is the reviewer's comment about "intelligent designer that makes evolution unnecessary..." While it may be presented as derogatory, the comment actually gets across a point the book was trying to make, in that perhaps there is a third choice besides the polarized argument of intelligent design versus evolution. Apparently it worked, although toward insulting at least one reader, I suppose because of their beliefs (which were not really clear). I was trying to mock the argument and create a story world where both theories are correct, a blending of the two...

Same for a two-star review of my second title. To me, the Alice in Wonderland reference is more a compliment than criticism. Making a reader feel like Alice had felt, heck, I figured that would make Lewis Carroll proud. Well, I was thinking it would.

I guess the thing to do is have a good outlook on criticism. It's only as bad as you let it get to you. But really, and I am trying to get better at this myself -- best to ignore reviews altogether. Just keep writing.
 

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I'm sure, if we're honest, we're all a bit disappointed at a bad review. And if your first review on a book is bad, that's going to really hit.

BUT I think you have to not take it personally. Remember most readers look for a range of reviews, one or two low ones give your book credibility. If you look at your favourite mainstream books you'll probably find they have lots more bad ones than you do.

So, on balance, provided a book already has some good reviews, I don't worry about it. If everyone likes it, that's a sign I'm doing something wrong and writing too MOR. And if the review rips me or the book to shreds - well, that just shows the reviewer up as someone who needs to rip books and authors to shreds.
 

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When I get a bad review, my logical brain reminds me that I can't please everyone and that just because THAT particular person did not find value in my work does not mean my work is not valued by others. However, my creative brain — the one that's prone to flights of fancy, delusions of grandeur and other fantastical meanderings — glowers and growls, punctuated by pouts and whines. Fortunately, the creative mind is often busy with other things and doesn't get to focus too long on the negative. :)

Recently, I received a nasty review for one of my Harlequins and it wasn't that the reader didn't care for the story, it was the fact that the reader admitted she didn't enjoy that particular GENRE, so it begs the question, why did she buy it? That's the kind of stuff that drives me bonkers. Personally, I don't buy or read books that hold no interest for me and likewise I certainly wouldn't submit a review of a book that I knew from the get-go wasn't going to be my cup of tea UNLESS, I was so wowed by the book that I had to share my glowing change of heart. But that's me.

*shrugs*

Kimberly V.
 

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I got a 1 star review on a reading blog once. I started laughing the moment I read all the stuff she hated about my character. I realized there was absolutely nothing I could do to improve the read since the stuff she hated was all the stuff my other reviewers LOVED about my hero. I have to just accept that you can't win them all. Honestly both me and my husband were surprised at how well I took it. Even now if I go back and read it, I laugh my arse off!  ;D  
 

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My first "bad" review actually wasn't that bad at all, now that I look back at it. It was a 3-star review that said they enjoyed my story, despite the typo errors.

I'm glad the reviewer enjoyed the book, and that the typos didn't completely ruin it for her. But it made me paranoid that in pointing out those errors in a review, it was going to cost me sales. And, the perfectionist in me just couldn't leave well enough alone...
I immediately emailed a copy to my crit partner who worked with me on the anthology, and also ran the book through autocrit and serenity a couple times. I even started from the last word on the last page, and scrolled up through to see if I missed any small little thing. And, then I re-uploaded/re-published it. ;)

Now I go back and read that review and it doesn't make me feel so bad. Somebody enjoyed the story! Kinda makes me feel good, instead of insecure.
 

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PJJones said:
So how do you feel when you first read that review that tears your book to shreds? Or maybe the reviewer even takes deliberate slams at you, the author.
I've never had a reviewer really trash my work or " take slams" at me. Generally my two or three star reviews have just mentioned the problems the reader had with the book (usually it's length) and made fair comments about how other people might enjoy it but it wasn't for them. I guess there might be some sadists out there who get kicks from taking personal aim at an author but I haven't run into any of them.

Those so-so reviews disappointed me a little of course but I can't say any of them made me miserable. I assume most people won't even notice one or two not so great reviews as long as I've got plenty of good ones to balance them out. It's only if all my reviews were bad that I'd start to worry - not so much about the reviewers but my own writing ability.
 
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It hasn't happened yet.

HOWEVER... on another message board a person with whom I was casually friendly sent me three private messages-- without request, prompting, or warning-- that offended me so deeply I have decided to make sure she is NOT going to my regional conference before I book for the rest of my life.

It wasn't the criticism so much as the fact that I did not ask for her input, nor did she know what she was talking about.

The first was a six paragraph rant about what I was and was not doing-- without any knowledge of what either of those things were.

The second was an obscenity riddled critique of a blurb that I had posted WITH THE CAVEAT THAT THE BLURB WAS JUST FILLER, NOT THE ACTUAL BLURB.

She offered to write it for me.  She "does it professionally," doncha know.

Um... for a publisher I turned down because I despise their reputation, find their products almost universally inferior, and their covers obscene.

I had also attended-- wait for it-- a workshop on writing a hook with this woman.  She read hers aloud.  It was bad.  Really bad.  Like... everyone tried hard to get her to see how bad it was.

At one point I was actually really fond of this woman in a "when I bump into you at a conference you are fun" sort of way.

If I saw her in a crowd now? I'd leave before she could approach me.

And my crit group is, I swear to you, the most vicious den of b****es on earth.  I like rough criticism of my work.  I'm totally honest about what I'm bad at (blurbs, anyone?).  It was just UTTERLY unsolicited, out of nowhere, and the "polite hint" to let it go sailed over her head so hard and fast her hair blew back.
 

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My first reaction is disbelief.  Stunned.  Then I sort of melt and access what is said.  When a reviewer attacks the writer as one reviewer did to me, I think it's kind of funny.  It still smarts and sales inevitably diminish.  But what is one to do?  It's a free system and anyone is entitled to say how they feel.  I got my first two really ugly reviews on consecutive days and I'm recuperating.  It helps that one of my books as been selling really well.



 

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I am a pretty new writer, trying to get the hang of things, including blogging.  I am always at a loss of what to write.  Anyway, I write adult explicit erotica and I only have one review and it is pretty good but my problem is more in trying to get people to leave reviews.  I often wonder if it is the genre because people are embarrassed to admit that they bought it?

I do have a good friend that is having trouble with bad reviews and I get so irritated for him because people tend to slam things that are totally irrelevant like others were saying, they don't like a character or complain about the type of book it is.  People can be completely brutal in their opinion and sometimes I really wonder if people go out of their way to pick and slam on people for the pure joy of it. It isn't that hard to say you don't care for a book for whatever reason without totally attacking the writer, or how hard is it to say it just wasn't your type of book?  Oh no, that isn't good enough, better to tear down someones hard work, to shreds as was said, and draw as much blood as possible. 

I cringe to get my first one, as I am sure to get one.  I totally agree, you can't please everyone but I would hope that I could take the bad with the good and learn from it. 
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Okay, I'm going to try to respond to as many people as possible here because there are some amazing stories. Olie, unfortunately, I think we've all known someone like that. LOL!

R. Reed, try this:
A review that is going to be on indiehorror.org says I need to use more compound sentences, AND I'm not sure what to do with that.

LOL! Just kidding. The question is, do you agree?

William, my skin gets hot when I get upset, too, but I have an auto-immune disease and I think stress triggers my antibodies. No fun.

PJ
 
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