Critics Suck. But Life Goes On: How to Deal With Negative Reviews of Your Work
Not everyone will love your work. Period.
Lately, reviewers have even banded together to ‘bully’ authors, dumping negative reviews on authors they didn’t like. Authors, in retaliation, formed a Stop The Bullies group to trash the reviewers. No this isn’t high school. Yes, this really happened.
Trust me, even as a published author with two Amazon bestsellers, I have received lots of reviews, a good number of them negative. It’s a fact of being an author. Have I ever responded in a public forum? No way. Will I? Nope.
Writers write, readers read. Since when is this a problem? Bullying is definitely never, ever the answer. What are we teaching our kids about how to handle conflict by retaliating in a public forum?
Like any debate, there are supporters for both sides. Some say the reviewers are right and that poor authors need to stop whining about a bad review. Others argue that many of these reviewers aren’t reviewers at all – just people who write about books many of them have never even read (how is that even possible?).
Writing ‘revenge reviews’ seems like a big waste of time to me. The same goes for the reviewers who target authors. What really matters is how you handle a negative review of your work. To them, I say, “Write your own damn book!”
The D.I.A.L Strategy for Handling Negative Reviews
DEAL: One of my author friends says, STOP. Don’t read anything under a 4-star. It’s bad for the psyche. Another says it’s toxic for your soul and it affects your confidence.
But, is it a waste of time to read them in the first place…really?
No. Listen, we put ourselves out there. Accept that people will hate you for whatever reason. Your hair color. Your eyes. Where you live. People hate that I mention a certain brand of shoes and say “baby.”
So what? Deal with it. Man up.
I don’t mean read it to let it get under your skin and crawl into a trembling hole of freaked out chocolate coma. Ok, well, do that if you must, but then get up and drink some coffee. It’s good market research and demographic data, i.e., people who hate that I say “baby” are not people who will buy my next book.
Good to know. And oh well.
For any creative, should we heed our critics?
IGNORE: Everyone is a critic. People who dislike you and even people who think the world of you. Is that feedback helpful? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
Ignore may seem antithetical to my other points but what I mean is don’t let it eat at your soul. It is what it is.
These people are not gods. Does their opinion matter that much if you don’t even know who they are? Do you respect total strangers who are saying awful things about you? I know I don’t.
ANALYZE: Do I read it all? Yes. I learned, for example, that some people think #hashtags are #typos. People sometimes criticize or judge what they don’t understand.
So I added into my introduction an explanation of what hashtags are as well as a quick sentence on my Amazon page. (I even had to explain them to Amazon, but that’s a whole other blog post.)
Someone else said I used cliché “Sex and the City” phrasing in all my essays, which made me laugh since I’m one of the few women who hated that show. Though I did use one example of Carrie in one essay. (And everyone knows she wore Blahniks and I love Prada.)
But that is useful information for future. At some point. Probably. Maybe?
LAUGH: What many of these 1-stars reviewers write is so off the mark, I often wonder if they read the book I wrote, or in the case of other authors, if we read the same author’s book.
Clearly many of these folks are on a mission to leave poor reviews for authors that often have nothing at all to do with the content of the book itself. Notice, they are often a single line – a sure sign they haven’t read the book at all.
It’s important authors (or any creative) surround ourselves with people who support us, but ultimately you have to trust your own voice and vision. Don’t take anything personally.