So you had a bad day, you came home, you sat down and saw someone left a review and you decide to read it.
My first point here would be dont even look to see. If you had a bad day dont go anywhere near other people, especially ones who may have an opinion on your work; that is not going to end well for you.
If you’ve had a good day and you sit down and see a review and read it and its slating you and your work it can feel awful and pull in dark thundery clouds on your bright sunny day.
Take a deep breath and walk away, go for a walk, and calm down then come back to it if you must.
Read it word for word and see what it actually says. There are different types of bad reviews and not all of them are actually bad if you just let the red mist dissipate to allow you to read them.
Some can actually be helpful and some dont mean to mean, and of course there are those that do. Some people are just not very nice.
So let’s look at the different reviews:
1. The ‘Not my thing’ review: I get annoyed with these reviews sometimes. I know not everyone is going to like my writing and my book and I appreciate people wont like or click with my style of writing. But to trash something because its not your thing is a bit unfair. Erotica and BDSM arent my thing, so I havent read 50 shades of Grey. I havent read it and slated it because its not my thing, I know its not my thing, so I’ve not indulged in it.
However, you will always get these reviews, some people just cant resist getting their opinion in even if its not really fair. This you have to chalk up to experience and just say, ‘ah well, you cant please everyone.’
2 The ‘I didn’t enjoy it review.’ Fair enough, you thought it was your thing, you read it, you didnt enjoy it, you said so. Thats fine and you have to accept as in point 1; You cant please everyone. Most genuine people who give bad reviews for this reason will actually do it politely, usually trying to throw in a compliment about the grammar being great or something because they feel a bit bad giving you a bad rating.
Some may even be nicer, especially if its a beta reader or something and just say look, ‘I didnt like it, but I wont slate you, I’m just not going to review it.’ This is actually a really nice thing for a new writer, and they may give you feedback as to why. Read that feedback it could be vital to your future in writing.
Of course it doesn’t feel nice at first, it’s like slaving over a meal all day and someone eating it then telling you it was awful and how you could make it better; you want smack them round the head with the pan! But don’t! Listen, read and take it in.
3. The nasty ‘I didn’t like it'; Some people are just horrible. They will do their best to tear your book apart because they are that kind of person. Because they didn’t like it, rather than say, I just didn’t like it they’ll tell the world it’s awful and terrible. There are people like that, I know people like that’ that I see everyday. Just smile nod, sigh, look at your mates and roll your eyes in the typical ‘what a ****!’ manner and move on. You have to accept it and develop a thick skin.
4. The ‘English Police’ or on stricter terms the ‘grammar police’. These are people that even if your story is awesome and could be the next multi-million pound grossing movie series of all time; one little typo and they will give you a one star rating based on your ‘clear lack of understanding and use of grammar, punctuation and English.’ Because they are nit picky and thats just how tiresome some people are.
Dont get me wrong, if a book is really badly written with dire spelling mistakes, atrocious grammar and terrible punctuation, not to mention a really bad flow to it, then yeah, I’ll slam it as well. You cant put a book out like that and expect to get readers let alone good reviews. But there are those who will just nit pick for the sake of nit-picking. Once more, just move on.
5. The ‘no real reason’. Just walk away! They dont have a reason and if you pull them on it you’ll just rile an argument out of someone who was probably having a bad day and decided to put the review down. Again, just chalk it up to experience and walk away.
6. The ‘non-readers’. You will get these and they are basically related to Number 7. They will decide from other peoples reviews that they will not like it and review it even though they havent even looked at the cover. These I regularly see named and shamed on twitter or facebook. Be careful doing this, sometimes its ok’ other times it can come back at you. What you can do, especially on book sites like Amazon; file a complaint of trolling and just say, ‘they haven’t read it and are being malicious’. Amazon can verify their records that they never purchased the book from them and take down the review. Most people wont buy something theyre not going to read just to verify a review, and if they do, then give them their due; their determined ****!
7. The ‘Troll!’ Ah, now this is different. There are trolls out there. They are horrible nasty people who will find someone they want to attack and go full throttle. The wonder of the internet gives vile, cowardly people anonymity to be dicks! They grasp it with both hands and take pleasure in trying to break people. Some are just horrible in their comments, some are outright threatening and terrifying and theres a whole range in between.
Do not, under any circumstances engage any kind of communication with these people! A lot of sites like Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, even Amazon now have systems in place to report abuse. You also have the anonymity they have. Look at their profile, see what else they commented etc, usually you’ll find they have just spent hours attacking anyone they can to try and provoke a response. Once you have found this, you have the evidence to report them and usually their profile will be blocked. Of course they’ll just open new one under a different name, but that’s the only power you have.
Don’t let their reviews or scathing comments get to you, nine times out of ten, everybody else knows they’re a troll too and usually youll see other readers comments telling them to get lost.
The most important thing is, unless it’s someone you’ve requested a review from and they engage with you in a private message, never ever ever respond to a bad review. Even if it’s a troll, it will not end well for you! You may have seen recently a thread that went viral about an author who had a go at a reviewer on Goodreads; he was destroyed by everyone who got involved. You become petulant and self righteous. Your image is seen as someone who cant handle it and therefore shouldnt be doing it.
Not everyone is going to like you, and that’s ok. I don’t find Ricky Gervais funny, but there are plenty of people who do and that’s who he performs his comedy for. I find Lee Evans hilarious, but one of best friends can’t stand him, and that’s ok, because I’m the kind of fan who he performs his comedy for and my mate simply doesn’t watch him. If you get constructive criticsm, take it, because that’s your readership trying to help you. They like your story, they like your ideas and how you portray them, and they might just be saying ‘they don’t introduce characters well’ in which case you can think, ‘ok I’ll take the time and a couple of sentences to make sure my readers are aware who my characters are.’
Other than that, don’t respond. Read it if you must, learn from it what you can, then go and have a drink, cool down and move on. The red mist will dissipate and in a day or so you’ll just shrug it off and say ‘what a ****’ and get on with your life and your writing.
And if you really want to feel better, read the good reviews and give yourself a boost.