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If you’ve opened this blog post, you’re probably a published author and you’ve had some bad book reviews. Let me tell you from the get-go, those reviews have been happening since the dawn of time. I know how it sounds, but listen to this – it is possible to feel okay about a bad book review.
Read on to see how
In order to understand how to handle a bad book review, you need to realize the sides involved. Yes, it’s you – the author and your reader.
You’ll always have those, right? But the wider the audience, the bigger the possibility of getting a bad book review.
So what even is a book review in the first place? If we’re on the same page, we are speaking of the book reviews your reader had left on a platform where your book sells. In that regard, we won’t define a book review as a literary criticism a person passed on to you upon analyzing your book, but as an opinion of a reader.
Let’s repeat this.
Not a criticism after a book analysis but an opinion of a reader!
But there’s more.
Review vs Critique vs Opinion Hate comment
Why I differentiate these?
Where I’m from, a book review is usually paid for, and it’s supposed to be done by a well-known author (the more famous the better) and/or a university language professor and it’s sent along with a manuscript to the desired publisher if they ask for it. Once the manuscript is accepted for print, the review(s) go to the appendix of the book and serve for a reader to know more about the written work.
Critique is given by, let’s say a public authority, such as book magazines.
Both of these are not subjective (at least they shouldn’t be), but are based on experience and knowledge a specific person has in regards to literature.
What we’re usually faced with on our publishing platforms are opinions of readers and/or hate comments.
These are highly subjective, based only on their feeling about the book.
I do think that some of them might have previous experience in book reviewing/critiquing, but their motif to leave a review is an important factor to observe.
Book reviewers and critique experts I have mentioned above have money as a motif, either directly from you as an author or from the readers of their blog/magazine/newspapers and their subscriptions.
The only motif of a regular reader to leave a review for your book is to show you that they either loved it or that you could work on some aspects of it.
And those opinions are sometimes what hurts us most.
A hate comment is easy to cast away once we notice it, simply because it’s obvious that it’s hateful.
It’s not constructive for us to lean on hate comments and there’s nothing in them to help us improve.
But an honest opinion is something that kicks us down as authors and we immediately think we’re not good enough and we should rush to change our whole writing style, but why should we?
Even if you change it all and that reader returns to buy your new book and he loves it, there will come another who might ask a simple question such as “Why did you change your writing style?” to make you rethink it all and send you down the rabbit hole again.
You can fight a bad book review in many ways:
Before an attempt to delete it, you might try to separate your feelings and observe it from another angle aka maybe the person who a bad review hated your protagonist because of personal reasons. Or maybe something else happened to your reader on that particular day when they decided to leave a bad review. Sometimes that’s all that people do – they shake off their bad days on someone unrelated.
Move on to writing more. Thus you’ll improve your writing on your own. There’s not a stronger “cure” to poor writing than to write more and learn about your mistakes.
ALSO READ: 5 Writing Problems and How to Solve Them
Realize that there will always be people who won’t like your work. Maybe your book cover or a book blurb made them think they’ll like it. Maybe your returning readers come back one day and buy a book and they decide it’s not as good.
The more books you write, the bigger the chances that this will happen.
Let them. Thank them. Once your readers feel they’re heard and understood, they’ll probably come back and see if there’s still something you wrote that they will love.
Show that review to your most valuable and closest readers and ask them what they think.
Discuss it with a family member who you trust and who read your works.
Do your best to take what you think is positive from a bad review and think about what can help you move forward with your writing.
ALSO READ: 51 Affirmations for Writers
We can all learn from each other and maybe that person was sent to you so that you can really improve some aspects of your writing.
At the end of the day, you still made a sale. And that’s something you should consider as a small win.
How did you handle your bad book review? Let me know in the comments below.
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