Wednesday, 6 January 2016

How To Deal With Negative Reviews - The After Process

How To Deal With Negative Reviews

I know what you're thinking. Your work is so perfect and excellent that it won't get anything below four stars, three at the very least. Or you're thinking that the only people who leave reviews below three stars are trolls. I hate to break it to you, but you're wrong on both accounts. Now, this isn't me saying that your work isn't up to scratch, how could I know? I probably haven't read it. This is me saying that every writer, EVERY. SINGLE. WRITER. with published work has had bad reviews. Now, some of those reviewers are indeed trolls, some of them are bullies, but the most of them? They're just readers who didn't like your work. That's not a bad thing, it happens, you can't please everyone.

Now I know that one of the first reactions to being told someone doesn't like something, especially something as personal as a novel, is to ask why? However, the first rule regarding authors and reviews? DO NOT INTERACT. The reviews may seem to be there to show you how your work is received but that's actually a secondary thing. They are there for the reviewer to tell other readers what they did or didn't like about the story. If you're only happy to receive five star reviews, then you're in the wrong business. It's just not going to happen. Take a look at some of the big greats of our time. J. K. Rowling, she has bad reviews. So does Terry Pratchett, Harlan Coben, and any other author you could name. Why? Because you can't please everyone.

But, I hear you cry, other people may be put off by those bad reviews! I'm trying to make a living here! While it is true that people may look at the bad reviews and think, nope this isn't for me. It's also true that they may not. I don't know what attracts you to a book, but for me it's the synopsis. If you, the writer, can convince me, the reader, that this is a book I will enjoy in the synopsis, then I'll probably give it a go. I may glance at the highest rated review as well as the lowest one, but they are not deal breakers to me.

Also, here's something that I know a lot of authors will agree with - only five star reviews and nothing negative? It doesn't look right. I mean, yeah if you're only got a handful of reviews it's fine, but a hundred reviews and they're ALL five star? I'm not saying it doesn't happen, it does, but as I've said twice already - you can't please everyone, so either people aren't taking a chance on a book because the cover/synopsis/whatever doesn't catch them, or the people who don't like the book are just not leaving their reviews. It's not a bad thing, but to me, having a less than perfect score makes it feel more genuine. Your mileage may, of course, vary.

What about trolls though? Yes, they happen. Yes, they suck and yes, they do shake the trust in the review system. If someone has never read your book and is leaving fake bad reviews all over Goodreads or Amazon, then yeah that's harsh. But still, engaging just ends up making you look bad in the eyes of the oblivious reader. I know it's hard, but take a deep breath and move past it. Now, if they started to get personal, or cross over into cyber bullying territory, then you need to contact the site. NOT the troll, the site because they should have plans in place to deal with that kind of thing. However, a 1 star review that's just that, is not a troll or a bully. If they're telling people that they didn't enjoy the book for whatever reason, that's their right as a reader. Once again I say, you can't please everyone!

So yes, negative reviews happen and yes, they are disheartening, but don't engage. Rant to a friend, cry, eat chocolate and marshmallows, but do not, ever, ever, ever, engage with them. It doesn't help and it makes you look unprofessional. Keep your chin up and move past it however you can and accept that just because they didn't like your work, it doesn't mean that no one does.

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