Don’t Panic When You Get a Bad Book Review

Oh no! A bad review!

Make a Living as a Professional Self-Published AuthorReceiving negative feedback, including a bad book review, can be disheartening for any author. However, it’s crucial to remember that reviews are subjective opinions and not reflective of the book’s true value. In this article, we’ll explore strategies and tips to deal with a bad book review and move forward with confidence.

Most of my books receive 4- or 5-star ratings on Amazon. In fact, all but 3 ratings are in that range. It always feels good to receive a good rating, especially when the reviewer takes the time to write a thorough review to go along with the rating.

However, the day will come when you receive a negative rating or a bad book review. Someone might rate it a “3”, meaning “it was okay”, all the way down to a “1”, meaning they felt it was rubbish. It doesn’t matter how good of a book you’ve written, how well received it is overall, someone is not going to like it.

I recently received a rating of “1” on a novel, written under a pen name, and the reviewer left a very long, detailed explanation of why they thought my book was “a piece of trash” and a “complete waste of time.” She went on to explain the character was “petulant” and “annoying”, the story line was “horrible”, and the dialog “redundant” and “boring”. This is the longest and most detailed review I’ve received to date – printed out it exceeds 2 pages of written text. Someone had way too much time on their hands.

Understanding the Impact of a Bad Book Review

A single negative review, even among numerous positive ones, can shake an author’s confidence. It’s essential to recognize that everyone has different tastes and preferences. While some readers may resonate with your book, others may not connect with it as strongly. Understanding this inherent subjectivity is the first step towards coping with a bad review.

Managing Your Emotional Response

Upon encountering a bad review, it’s natural to feel a surge of emotions. However, it’s crucial to control your emotional response and avoid acting impulsively. Remember, responding out of anger or frustration can lead to further negative consequences. Take a step back, acknowledge your emotions, and find healthy ways to process them. Engaging in activities like going for a walk, practicing mindfulness, or talking to a supportive friend can help you regain composure.

Extract Constructive Feedback

Bad Book ReviewDespite the negative tone, bad reviews often contain valuable insights. Read the review carefully and try to identify any valid points, regardless of the reviewer’s overall perception. Even if you don’t agree with all the criticism, there might be areas where you can improve. Reflect on the feedback and consider it as an opportunity for growth as a writer.

Resist the Urge to Respond Publicly

It’s crucial to resist the temptation to respond publicly to a bad book review. Engaging in a public argument or defending your work can do more harm than good. Responding may attract unnecessary attention, including trolls and online arguments that can further damage your reputation. Remember, your focus should be on moving forward and improving, rather than dwelling on a single negative review.

Private Response Considerations

In some cases, reviewers provide their email addresses in their profiles, tempting authors to privately address their concerns. However, it’s generally advised to exercise caution when responding privately. Before reaching out, evaluate whether the reviewer has expressed a genuine willingness to engage in a constructive conversation. Keep in mind that attempting to change their opinion is unlikely to be fruitful and may result in further frustration.

Embracing the Benefits of Bad Reviews

While bad reviews can be disheartening, they also serve a purpose in the literary world. A book with only positive reviews may raise suspicions among potential readers. Embracing a few negative reviews showcases authenticity and demonstrates that your book has been read and evaluated by a diverse range of readers. Remember, a mix of opinions contributes to a healthy and credible review landscape.

Understanding Review Policies

Major platforms, such as Amazon, have specific policies regarding the removal of reviews. Unless a review violates the platform’s terms and conditions, it is unlikely to be removed. Obscene language, hate speech, or clear violations should be reported to the platform for investigation. However, in most cases, negative reviews that fall within the guidelines will remain. It’s important to familiarize yourself with these policies to manage your expectations.

Turning a Negative into a Positive

A bad book review can be a valuable learning experience. It allows you to reflect on your writing, identify areas for improvement, and grow as an author. Use the feedback from the review to fuel your motivation and drive to create even better work in the future. Remember that every successful author has faced criticism, and it is through these challenges that you can emerge stronger and more resilient.

A Note About Book Review Trolls

The presence of book review trolls poses a significant challenge to authors in the digital age. These individuals deliberately seek out opportunities to criticize and belittle authors, often leaving malicious and inflammatory comments on their book reviews. Book review trolls aim to undermine an author’s confidence, spread negativity, and discourage potential readers from engaging with their work. Their comments can be filled with personal attacks, baseless accusations, and derogatory language, creating a toxic environment for authors. It’s important for authors to be aware of the existence of such trolls and to develop strategies to protect their mental well-being and navigate the online space with resilience and positivity.

Removing Reviews

You can get the review removed if the text contains obscene language, hate speech or other violations of Amazons Terms and Conditions. If you feel the review violates Amazon’s terms, report it to them and they will investigate. Other than that, Amazon typically will not remove a bad book review for any reason.


Dealing with a bad book review requires emotional resilience and perseverance as an author. Remember that negative reviews are part of the journey, and they should not define your worth or discourage you from pursuing your passion.

Please note, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through the book links provided in this article.


Richard Lowe

4 thoughts on “Don’t Panic When You Get a Bad Book Review

  1. Jilly Prather Reply

    Very wise advice! Knee jerk reactions seldom help a situation. Learning from criticism is important.

  2. Kim Steadman Reply

    Since I don’t have a published book (yet) I’m going to have to file this one away in my memory. I”ll be ready for the negativity by trying my best to be like a duck and let it roll off my back. I’m taking particular note about not responding publicly and also not replying back if they should have to include their email. Those may be the 2 hardest suggestions to follow.

  3. Toni Allen Reply

    Excellent information, Richard. You’re so right in that there’s nothing you can do but move on – swiftly! As authors we need to grow incredibly thick skins, and understand that our work will not be to everyone’s tastes.

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