Thursday, June 6, 2013

Bad Reviews and How to Deal with Them

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). 

Happy writing!


T. R. Graves said...

All great points! For me, there are two different types of negative reviews. 1) There are those where a person is simply stating their opinion about some of the story's/character's/writing's weaknesses as they see them. In that particular situation, I read the review and take it to heart... analyze it to see if there is any merit to what they are saying so that I can evolve as a writer. 2) There are those that are vicious and mean-spirited. There's nothing to be gleamed from those people or their reviews, and more often than not, the vindictiveness of the review speaks to the reviewer's morals/ethics/bitterness more than it could ever speak to the author's talent. Those types of reviews should be avoided at all cost by the author and by others trying to decide if they should read the book. There's no sense in rewarding that type of behavior or looking away from an amazing book because of one 'arse' (as in Ana & Christian). I mentioned them because I only read Fifty Shades after seeing all of its negative reviews. I had to see for myself if the book was as bad as the reviewers made it out to be since it was outselling The Hunger Games, a favorite book of mine. Negative reviews can sometimes change the course of a book/author.

K. C. Blake said...

I know sometimes a negative review changes my mind about buying a book, but only if they make some good points. There are some reviewers out there (and critics of movies, shows, etc) who seem to be trying to be funny and making a name for themselves by trashing someone else's work. Hopefully people can tell when they read the review that this person is just trying to show how 'smart' they are.

Holly Harris said...

Since I'm not an author I can't weigh in on that side of bad reviews. As a reader and a blogger, in the 8 months I've actually been writing reviews of the books I read, I have ONLY written 2 negative reviews. It's a rarity for me. And I think it stems from the title of my blog and the reason behind it - every book ever written has so much love and energy and passion behind it that I think "who am I to put an author down or bash their book". It's a line we have to tread carefully as readers and bloggers. But in the end it is all about personal preference and gut instinct. And you know what they say about opinions...

Great thoughts!!
Holly @ Words Fueled by Love

K. C. Blake said...

I wish all bloggers felt like you, Holly. After spending months, sometimes years on a book, it is disheartening when someone tears it apart, especially in such a public way. My characters are a part of me. When someone hates them, I feel like they hate me. But I do feel people have a right to their opinion and should be able to express it freely without worrying about writers bashing them. Everyone just needs to learn to be nice. :)