How to Address Bad Reviews (It Might Surprise You!)
It has happened to all of us, or will at some point if you’re in the game long enough: a bad review is posted of our book.
I’m not talking about a 4-star or even 3-star review (come on guys, 5 stars are supposed to be reserved for the best of the best). I’m talking about the cringe and cry-worthy reviews of 1 or 2 stars.
Those can cut you to the core.
Especially when they’re written about something you poured your soul into. Something you created, something that’s a personal reflection of you; something that is a judgement of YOU.
So how to deal with that?
First, calm down. Yes these reviews hurt. Yes they suck and will impact other buyers. But they are NOT a personal attack on you, nor do they represent you as a person. It’s sometimes hard to remember that, especially when you’re staring one in the face, but trust me, it’s not a dis on you.
For one reason or another, someone just didn’t like what you offered them. Guess what? That’s ok. You’re not right for everyone, and the sooner you accept that the sooner you can get to success.
Now, what should you do about that review?
Not a damn thing.
Seriously. Someone read your book, formed an opinion of it, and shared their thoughts with others. Your job is NOT to refute it.
“But Samantha, what if what they said is flat out wrong? I did so much research and they said I don’t have a clue what I’m talking about!”
As maddening as that is, you just have to let it be. Someone else who has also read your book will eventually leave a review to the contrary of the bad one.
My readers consistently tell me how amazing my characters are. That’s where my heart is, so I’m happy that’s coming through in what I write. But guess what? I’ve still received reviews on amazon that said my characters were flat and uninteresting. Ok cool... but most other reviews say otherwise, so I’m not worried about it. I certainly am not going to confront the person who said that. They shared their opinion, which I sincerely appreciate.
Search the web about what readers wish authors would stop doing, and it all essentially boils down to this:
Authors, stop spying on your readers.
That includes circling bad reviews like a shark—or worse, sicking your other fans on them! Dude, so not cool! Do NOT do that!
Think about it. Do you really want to attack people for leaving honest reviews? Do you want to live in that kind of world? Hells to the no! I sure don’t.
I want people to know what other readers DID think. If someone thought my book had too much gore and feels like explaining that, awesome.
Know why I love that? Because it tells other readers what they can expect. If someone else who hates any level of blood or violence comes across that review, it’ll tell them to stay away... which means one less unhappy customer. Conversely, if the reviewer took the time to describe what so ardently offended them, their description will also warn people who LOVE that kind of content that my book probably doesn’t have as much as they might be looking for, so maybe they should pass on mine (War has some gore, but nowhere near Walking Dead levels). Once again, a disappointed reader avoided.
Bad reviews help you, just like good reviews do.
If you see reader feedback as something that should always be glowing and raving, you need to update your thinking or you’re going to be devastated in your future endeavors.
What’s more, bad reviews can bear some merit to them. Listen to your readers. If you think you did enough research about guns but a spec ops guy says you don’t know what you’re talking about, revisit your research. See if you missed something. See what more you can learn. See if you can get an advisor (I freaking love asking veterans for help with my research, because was I on a battlefield? No, they were. Listen to the pros!).
Most negative reviews will bear a nugget of truth and listening to said nugget to figure out how to do better next time will help you. Your writing can only improve from it!
Every kind of review—both good and bad—tells other readers what to expect. Even better than that though, they help you attract the right readers and repel the wrong ones.
So you do yourself a favor and don’t stress about low-starred reviews—and don’t you dare think about attacking those honest reviewers! The feedback is not a judgement on you as a person (only God holds that kind on power!), and it will help repel and attract the right kind of people. Better yet, if you search for the bit of truth amidst the pain and dare to address it, you can take your writing to another level.
Have you gotten a 1 or 2-star review? What did you do about it? Tell us below and join the conversation: