When Receiving a Bad Review

Do you read reviews before you purchase a book? I’ll be honest and say I usually don’t. Quite often when judging a product or a movie I have often felt the opposite of the critics. If they hate it, I love it and vice versa.

I also don’t want to have my reading of something skewed and quite often reviewers tend to give small spoilers during their reviews. I would rather be surprised as to what is coming next. Anything more than a back-of-the-book blurb and I feel the reading experience is slightly ruined. I want to feel every shock and twist the author has in store for me. So, I wait until after I read the book and then read the reviews to see if I agree with them or not.

As an author I love reading the reviews others take the time to leave for my work. I appreciate the depth as well as the viewpoints of each one, whether it is a good or a bad review. Okay, to be honest, no one loves to receive a bad review. We want everyone to be thrilled with our writing and spew out great praise that we took the time to put the words to paper–or screen with today’s age of electronics.

Yet, what about the bad reviews. Personally, I can’t leave a bad review. I won’t give less than three stars and if the book does not deserve the three stars, I usually just skip a review altogether. The reasons are varied and if you’re curious you can read my post, Reading and Reviewing. However, some people believe strongly in telling an author whether they missed the mark or not. So what should a writer do with those reviews? Besides hunting down the reviewer and saying bad things about their mothers, that is.

After just reading a couple of novels by indie authors that lacked quite a bit in the craft department, I glanced at the reviews of their books and discovered that I wasn’t the only one who thought so. The errors were blatant and truly ruined the reading of what most of the time could have been a great book. And they were indie authors! It wasn’t like the book was out there and it was too late. They could have read the reviews and then tried their best to strengthen their writing. Instead they rushed to the next story and put out another weak book.

I’m not here to say I have it all figured out. I am learning as well. Furthermore, I know that the idea is to have the book as spit polished as possible before publishing. However, if I have a chance to strengthen a story, I want to take it. So should other writers. I mean, we have the opportunity. We are in control. That is why we are indies, isn’t it? We want control of our creations. Then why not make them the best that we can?

That doesn’t mean we will agree with every bad review or want to change everything that is suggested. It doesn’t mean that we should, either. I mean, sometimes reviewers are just…wrong. However, if you truly want to make your writing stronger, it behooves you to pay attention to what is being said and whenever possible, fix it. You might actually see a rise in sales as your novels become stronger because you cared enough to improve them. That is part of the goal, right? To sell your writing? Then it is to your advantage to absorb the reviews and put in the extra work to make your prose the best that you can. Even a bad review can be beneficial if you see it as a tool to improvement.

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