How to Deal with Negative Book Reviews – Kelly Smith | Guest Post

No matter how great your book is, some people are bound to dislike it. It really bites, but that’s reality for you. For every great review, you’re going to get a negative review. In fact, some good reviews may also consider flaws that a reader found with your book. Knowing how to handle the situation the right way makes all the difference when it comes to your image as an author and the development of your craft.


Avoid Acting Too Quickly

When people hurt our feelings, we sometimes get defensive. It’s a natural impulse, but you need to learn to overcome it. You may be feeling a potentially dangerous combination of upset and angry, and that leaves you in no position to acknowledge or comment on your negative review. Wait until you’ve fully processed all of your emotions before you do anything. It may help to sleep on it.


Learn to Spot Trollers

You may be the victim of a troll. In the past, Amazon and Goodreads have had issues with fraudulent reviews placed by bored trolls. Sometimes, someone decides to leave multiple negative reviews, and sometimes competitors will hire others to leave fake negative reviews.

If it seems like the reviewer hasn’t actually read the book, or the review itself contains profanity or threats, you may have options. Amazon and Goodreads can both help you spot a troll, and remove negative reviews that are fake. This is rarely the case, but if you’re the victim of a troll reviewer, you don’t deserve to have that on your record.


Decipher and Interpret Useful Information

Even if the review is mean-spirited, the person who wrote it is likely trying to convey something to you. There’s a reason why they didn’t like it. It may be written in the most unsavory of terms, but it’s hidden under there. Pull out the sentiments, and write them down in a constructive way. Some readers simply have odd tastes that you don’t satisfy, but people who enjoy reading books in your niche may have overlap in their negative criticism. If you see the same issue brought up on multiple occasions, you should consider the criticism and how to address this in your next piece of work.


Look Over Your Book Through a Negative Lens

This doesn’t mean tear yourself apart – it just means you should look at our book the same way your negative reviewers did. Think about the things they didn’t like, and find them in your book. Highlight those areas, and realize why people didn’t like what you did. If your issue was something larger, like structuring, it may help to work with a digital copy of your book. You need to be able to understand where your critics are coming from.


Set Out to Prove Them Wrong

Once you know what someone doesn’t like, it’s easy enough to stop doing it. If a nagging bit of recurring criticism is getting under your skin, it’s time to hatch a new plan. Figure out how you’re going to do things differently. Maybe your novel gave too many things away from the beginning, and you need to use more subtle foreshadowing techniques. Maybe your diet friendly cookbook didn’t contain enough variety for the average dieter. Whatever it is, commit yourself to turning your weaknesses into strengths.


You can’t undo the past – all you can do is grow. The moment you apply meaningful changes that negate your negative criticism, you’ve become a new author. Writing is a continuous journey that shapes you as you go, and the journey never truly has an end. You can’t please everyone, but you can certainly evolve into the master writer you’ve always wanted to be.



Kelly Smith works at CourseFinder, an Australian online education resource. She is passionate about the writing and new marketing trends.

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