17 Jul 2016

What do you do when you get a Bad Book Review?


A Bad Book Review Can Ruin Your Whole Day

Make a Living as a Professional Self-Published AuthorMost 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 test.. Someone had way too much time on their hands.

What should you do about a bad book review?

  • Control your emotions. I know, you’re first impulse is to get angry. How dare they give you such a low rating? Calm down. It’s just one person’s opinion. If you get really emotional about it, take a walk or do something to chill down. Under no circumstances respond to the review.
  • Learn what you can. Carefully read the review, understand what the reviewer is saying, and see if there is any truth, no matter how small, in what they have to say. In the case of my novel, I reread portions and found that there were a few places where the dialog was redundant. It wasn’t as bad as the reviewer stated, but the dialog could have been tightened up a bit more.
  • Never respond publicly. Never reply to the review in any public forum. In fact, this is good advice to follow for ANY review, good or bad. A reply has a good chance of attracting trolls (people who delight in belittling others and feeding arguments) and most likely will not change the mind of the reviewer.
  • Use caution when responding privately. Some reviewers include an email address in their profile, and it can be tempting to want to send them a message asking them to change their review. Personally, I recommend you let it go. Take a deep breath, control your emotions, and leave the reviewer alone. You have better things to do with your time than respond to negativity. Besides, it’s highly unlikely they will change their review for you.
  • Move on with your life. Bad reviews are actually a good thing, as long as most of the reviews are positive. It can look suspicious if a book (or other product) has only 4 or 5 star ratings. After all, it is impossible for EVERYTHING to like a book or product.

Bad Book ReviewYou 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.

In short, read the bad book review, understand what it says, learn anything you can learn, take a deep breath, and move on with your life.

Or if you really want to sleep well, don’t even look at the reviews of you book. Besides unpublishing and republishing the book, there’s nothing you can do about them anyway.

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Teresa Mills

Excellent advice. Let it go!

Jilly Prather

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

Kim Steadman

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.

Toni Allen

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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