How NOT to Deal With a Bad Review

Being an author comes with a lot of challenges, but one of the hardest may be managing our own egos. Namely, having the restraint to accept that bad reviews will happen, and the wherewithal to keep yourself from trying to argue.

Because every once in awhile an author comes along, and does that, and serves as a horrific example of what can happen.

It’s like watching a train wreck sliding into the Titanic at the instant it impacts an iceberg. It’s painful to watch but you are so struck that it still is happening that you can’t look away.

His first response to the negative review (which, remember, on Goodreads means “didn’t like it,” not “literally the worst”):

“This review is not good for my business, so unless your desire is to ruin my dreams, it would mean a great deal if you could remove this review from my work and forget about it. But if it’s your desire to hurt me financially and ruin my business, then it’s understandable why you would post such a harmful review.”

In addition to responding to the review at all, this guy really screws up when he implies that this person’s review was posted out of “desire to hurt [him] financially.” What? One bad review certainly won’t be your ruin. But he’s not done. The reviewer politely responded (more politely than I would have) and explained she would not be removing her review, as is her right, and went so far as to compliment aspects of his book. But he came back again:

“Leaving a 1 star review on a book says much more about what kind of person does such a thing, and then attacks it for being “pretentious,” which is an erroneous statement that is defamation at best.”

And then it goes steeply downhill from there. Let’s be clear: a review is about the content, not the author. I mean, no one is leaving a review to just be hurtful to some stranger they’ve never met. I review every book I read; all that says about me as a person is that I read a lot, and that I like to give reviews about it. There’s no moral judgement. Also this guy has no idea what “defamation” is (hint: 100% totally not that).

This schmuck just can’t stop digging a hole, though. He goes on, for another 11 posts, with his rants getting more and more loopy. Worse, he seems to make a bit of a habit of doing this. And may have scared of this (and who knows how many other) readers from ever trying out a new, indie author. That’s just unfortunate.

Now, I commiserate with the author a smidge; I had one one-star review show up on Goodreads. It didn’t even have a review for me to nit-pick and pout over, but it had been created at the same time as like 37 other reviews. I ranted to my husband for 20 minutes, then I closed the page and went to bed and didn’t think about it anymore. And you know what? The next morning, I had two 5-star reviews.

The winds of popularity can change that fast, which is why it’s important to keep perspective. A negative review isn’t the end of the world. And even if it was disastrous for your book, remember, even failure has its values.

But there isn’t anything to be gained from acting out. In fact, it looks like this particular author’s rant lowered his Goodreads rating from a solid 4 stars to a dismal 2 (and falling) in less than two days.

This is one of those lessons it’s good to learn from watching someone else go through it.

Don’t make this guy’s mistake; have some dignity and leave reviews—especially bad ones—alone.

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3 Comments

Filed under Publishing, writing

3 responses to “How NOT to Deal With a Bad Review

  1. Oh my word! That comment thread is surreal. I only skimmed the first page, but wow!

  2. What’s bad is how some of the commenters started saying how they’ll now just avoid all self-published authors if this is how it goes. An overreaction, to be sure, but also an understandable one. I hate it when one idiot ruins something for a whole bunch of people.

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