Not all that long ago, I got my first negative review for Where Daffodils Bloom.
I’m not talking about a mediocre, “Ho hum, it was alright” kind of review. I’m talking about a full-blown, “It’s terrible, I hated it, and nobody should ever waste their time on this junk” review.
It was a little traumatizing.
I imagine it would be the same for most first-time authors. After all, you’re still getting your legs under you. When you’ve written six successful novels and are confident in your abilities, it’s easy not to worry about a couple negative reviews. But if this is your first published book, you aren’t accustomed yet to letting random people critique the things you pour your soul into. So how to do you deal with it when somebody reads your book…and hates it?
Well, first off, you could just avoid reading reviews.
But if you’re like me and can’t help yourself, here’s a couple other things to try…
#1: Remind yourself that no matter how good your book is, not everyone is going to like it.
There’s no way you’re going to please everybody. In fact, a few negative reviews are a good sign. They mean LOTS of people are reading your book. (After all, if only your friends and relatives read it, they’d leave all positive reviews, right?)
If you want to make money with your book, you’re going to need a lot of buyers/readers who aren’t the same people you send Christmas cards to. But the more readers you have, the more certain it is that at some point one of them will be disappointed.
#2. See if there is useful information in the reviews.
Sometimes criticism is the fastest way to find and correct our blind spots. For instance, if you regularly get negative comments on a certain aspect of your writing, (too much description, confusing dialogue, etc) it’s probably something you want to improve in your next book.
Keep an eye out for a common thread in the negative reviews, and determine if they are picking up on a weak point you should work on.
#3. Keep things in perspective.
As a certain wonderful person in my life pointed out, if only 1-5% of your reviews are negative, that should NOT define the way you view your book. Imagine if you bought a new sweater and polled all the people you encountered, asking what color it was. On the survey, 38% said it was red, 35% said it was maroon, 25% said it was dark pink…and 2% said it was lime green.
Would you panic, conclude that the 2% were correct, and get your eyes checked to see if you might be color-blind?
Of course not! So. If at least 95% of reviews put your book somewhere on the scale between pretty good and wonderful, and 1-5% say it’s garbage sandwiched between press-boards…who are you going to believe?
But if all else fails…
If, despite trying all that, you still feel traumatized and unsure of yourself, there’s one more thing you can do. (Which, I admit, I totally did.)
Get on Amazon and look up some well-known, well-rated books that you think are fantastic. Click on the “reviews” section, and select the bar that allows you to ONLY see the 1 (or 2) star reviews.
Now sit and read those wince-worthy, “this book stinks, I hate it, and no one should ever read it” messages that somebody left for a fantastic author you love. There, you see? Even award-winning authors can’t please everybody.
So don’t be discouraged if you can’t either.