Our previous blog on “Reviews” triggered a great conversation. In this, the second blog on the subject, we offer authors some thoughts on dealing with negative reviews. I hope you will join us again and share your thoughts and experiences-
1. Take negative reviews into consideration. The reviewer just may be right! Well-¬written and thoughtful critical reviews can be helpful – painful, but helpful. Be open-minded. Listen. Read. Be willing to consider the opinion of others. In the end, you may still disagree but you may also gain some valuable learning.
2. Respond to fair-minded reviews. It is always nice to thank someone who takes the time to read and critique your book. You should do this even if you disagree with the review but be gracious, and NEVER enter into an emotional, heated discourse. No-one benefits and more times than not, it turns personal and ugly.
3. Consider reviewing books for other authors. This is the best way to create the “word of mouth” buzz that all authors want. In turn, your reviews may encourage others to review your book. But always be objective and professional. Never gush or attack; both are equally amateurish.
4. Ignore the “trolls”. Unfortunately, there is very little you can do about people whose mission is to attack authors and hurt sales of their books. These malicious and misguided creatures are an insult to good and decent authors and reviewers alike. Give them the attention they deserve, which is none!
5. Have confidence in your work. If you have done everything you possibly can to make your book the best it can be, then stand proudly behind it and don’t let anyone put you – or it – down. And always remember that any mention of your book, good or bad, moves it up on the search engines – making lemonade out of lemons.
6. Derive comfort from knowing that you are not alone in facing criticism. Much-admired books such as The Great Gatsby, The Old Man and The Sea, and even David Copperfield have all had negative reviews. The point is you cannot please everyone: a reader has the right to his or her opinion about your book even if they are out of step with everyone else. However, if you have mostly negative reviews, you probably should reconsider your work. And conversely, if you have all 5 star reviews, you need to make sure they aren’t all your aunts, uncles, neighbors and co-workers.
In conclusion, the very act of putting your writing out there for the world to see means you are going to be judged. If you aren’t prepared to hear what readers think then you need to ask yourself if your work is truly ready for the spotlight. But you should also give the reading public the credit they deserve. If they depend on reviews to choose a book, they will not be put off by a few negative reviews, and they will not be fooled by all glowing reviews. It may just be that the 3 and 4 star reviews get their attention.
The one point I got from reviewer comments on our previous blog was that often writers are simply too sensitive; they take all critical reviews as an attack. They are not! And attacking a reviewer is pointless; it won’t change the mind of a fair-minded reviewer, and it will only incite a nasty reviewer to escalate the attack!