bad book review

What to do when you get a bad review for your book?

Recently one of my clients was upset as she had just received a 1-star review from a reader.  She asked if she should reply or how was best to handle such a negative review.

To set the scene, my client is a very professional experienced author who has published a number of books which are very well received. Yet this one negative review really got to her. Was it because it was 1 star only? Was it the content of the review? The tone of the review?

The only relevant part of the review is whether the reviewer’s critique was justified in any way.

For any authors who get negative reviews for their book, here is what I suggest.

Copy the review onto a blank page so it away from your book sales page.  Now go through the review and delete everything ‘personal’ so all that is left is the bare bones of the problem (if there is a genuine problem).

I also suggest you make the text really small so it doesn’t take up much line width at all. Looking at it this way, with emotion taken out of it, it is easier to see if the reviewer’s critique is valid or not. It will also be easier to see reviews that are more ‘rant’ rather than providing any constructive feedback.

Discard these completely.

Just hit the delete button on your document. You can also make the writing so small that it can’t be read anymore and then delete. Imagine also the reviewer having a bad day and that the review really is more about them and how they are feeling than about your book.

It is also possible your book hit a nerve with them if you are writing in the nonfiction genre. That is okay as we all have our triggers.

Other readers can spot a ‘rant’ a mile away too so don’t worry. Hurtful as it seems, it really will do you no harm if there is nothing to fix.

Often you will find that the reviewer has posted negative reviews for other authors. Click on the reviewer’s name and you will see other reviews that person has posted about other books. You may notice a common ‘theme’ in the types of reviews posted.

You may be tempted to write something back but hold off. Whether to pacify, defend or whatever, you most likely will receive more negative ‘feedback’ and the reviewer will get more undeserved attention. Because you replied once, you are setting a precedent. Don’t start.

Go to your favourite authors and click on their 1-2 star reviews. You will see they are not to be taken personally and not everyone will love your book just like not everyone loves their book and they are more famous than you!

The best way to address negative reviews

The best way to address negative reviews is is to write more good books or work on getting more readers and reviewers for your existing book. The one or few bad reviews if anything will show balance in your readership and will not dissuade anyone who really does want to read your book.

Of course, address any valid issues raised and make the necessary changes and upload a revised document.

Case study

Not too long ago, I came across a negative review on Goodreads for another author. The reviewer really took the time to give an objective review of the book, what was wrong and why she didn’t like it.

It turns out the reviewer was correct in a great deal of her constructive feedback. It transpired that the author had uploaded an earlier draft of the book. Not the final version. Having this type of feedback, saved the author from ongoing embarrassment and further negative reviews as he has the opportunity to make the necessary changes.

Imagine if he had just ignored the bad review!

In this instance he did write back to the reviewer, thanking them for their honest helpful review and offered to send them a complimentary copy of his revised book.

The reviewer appreciated the sentiment and the author saved face.

Remember writing takes talent, perseverance, dedication and commitment. Don’t let anyone deter you from your creativity. Keep writing!


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