What to do with negative reviews

As I trolled the blogosphere on the topic, I noticed that many new authors feel dejected by bad reviews. Personalizing the review, I guess, forgetting that the review is aimed at an object, the novel and should not be aimed at the person, the author. I, on the other hand, find the negative reviews somewhat humorous, yet, wonder what type of person would publish such negative comments. Probably the same kind of person who would send his/her steak back to the restaurant kitchen three times in a row…?



Case in point: Today Ancient Revenge received two new customer reviews, both within an hour from each other. 

The first reviewer gave the novel a 4* (out of 5), with a positive critique on some typos found in the novel (I scanned the manuscript after reading the review and surely, I found 3 that had slipped through numerous previous edits). Thank you Lady North for the kind words. I shall fix the typos soon.

The other review, a 1* made my A-List. According to ljethrogibbs46 one would not find a novel on earth worse than mine; a true waste of time. Perhaps the reviewer’s name should have been a give-away. L Jethro Gibbs, really? Moving from the NCIS set to critique this conspiracy theory thriller in the same fashion Gibbs would hunt a killer... I feel honored for the time spent on capturing the review. 

Interesting, isn't it. Two reviews within an hour, but poles apart. Fact is, Terence explained this phenomenon as early as 161 BC when he stated that “quot homines tot sententiae” (There are as many opinions as there are people who hold them). 

And never has a truer word been spoken than this.

Ah well, I’m glad that my novel gave ljethrogibbs46 the opportunity to vent on this marvelous Monday. Hope his/her week is a tad better after this.

So, what to do with negative reviews?

  • Read them, at least. See what it's all about.
  • Do not quit writing!
  • Take note of constructive critique and apply it to your novel. Don't let your ego get in the way. If the reader has helped you to improve the novel, take the tip. It's free.
  • I've read of examples where even negative reviews stirred a buzz -- to help the novel sell. How can you use the negative review to cause a positive stir?
  • Do not take it personally. The review is on the object, not on you as a person.
  • Do not engage the reviewer in public forums. You will just make it worse. Besides, all the time you'll spend to ping-pong insults in a forum you could have used to write your next novel.
  • If the review is absolute rubbish, ignore it and move on. The best novels out there have 1* reviews.
  • Remember a review is subjective. It is what the reader makes of it.
  • Move on. Keep writing. 
  • Work harder to get more 4 - 5 star reviews!

Happy reading / reviewing!

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