I don't care what the book is, you can bet there is someone out there who doesn't like it. Don't believe me? Go to Goodreads and look up your favorite book. Check out the reviews. City of Bones is one of my favorite books, so I went to Goodreads and read some of the reviews. While it does have a four point something in ratings, there are some vicious reviews. I skimmed over the five-star 'I love this book so much' reviews and read the one and two star reviews.
Wow. I think the book is awesome, but some of these people actually got me to thinking that maybe I don't know good fiction from bad. They really tore into Clare. But in the end you just have to trust your own gut and love what you love. I still think Jace and Clary are awesome.
As you probably already know, I recently released another book. BAIT. The reviews have been AWESOME so far, but I know it is only a matter of time before I get slammed. The things that some people adore about the book will be things other people loathe.
The thing that gets me is how reviewers write like their opinions are fact. For instance, someone said City of Bones was poorly written and people should avoid it at all costs. But others love it. Other people think it was well-written. I know this is a pet peeve of mine and others may not feel the same way, but I just wish people would write their reviews as if this is their 'opinion' and you aren't stupid if you disagree.
As a writer, I have trouble getting over bad reviews. Family members and friends tell me to ignore it when readers say bad things about my characters, my plot, or my writing in general. Easy for them to say. Bad reviews depress the hell out of me, and I have a hard time sitting at the computer, working on my next story when all I can think about is what these people didn't like about my other stories. It makes me second guess myself. Other writers tell me to stop reading the reviews, but some of them are helpful. Some of them point out things I need to work on, things I can change.
This is one area where traditionally published and self published writers are in the same boat. No one is safe. We all have to take the bad reviews with the good.
Here are some tips for handling bad reviews:
1. Don't React: Even if the reader is way off base in what they are saying and you can prove it, do not say anything to them. Some bloggers have stopped reviewing because they are tired of getting hate mail from the authors. This is a business. Treat it that way. If you want to respond to the reviewer, write down your complaints in long-hand and then throw it away. Better to trash a piece of paper than your career.
2. Don't Read Them: If you can't handle it, stay away from them. I have to admit that bad reviews don't upset me the way they used to. Some of them even make me laugh now. Don't take yourself (or your writing) too seriously.
3. Read Ten Good Reviews: For every terrible review you get, read ten good reviews on your book. This will make you feel a lot better.
4. Read Bad Reviews on Books You Love: This helps too. Like I said in the passage above, find your favorite book and read what others have said about it. I guarantee you will find some bad stuff no matter what the book.
5. Trust Yourself: If you are a good writer, you already know it. You don't have to have approval from other people. Have you studied your craft? Have you worked hard on your story? Have you written the best book you could? Then don't sweat it.
6. Write for Yourself: This old adage still applies today. If you don't love it, no one else will. Don't worry about what others think of your book. (I know. I know. I need to listen to my own advice on this one).