As part of an author interview, I recently gave my thoughts on dealing with bad reviews. A few people said they were helpful, so I thought I'd turn it into a blog post, and add to it a bit (including some amusing examples!). Here you go, then, and I hope at least one or two of these bits of advice are of use :)
Try to accept them as inevitable, and part of the whole writing/publishing process; in other words, don't be shocked by them! I know they knock your confidence, it's never nice to get them and we all go through it, but, alas, not everyone will love everything you do.
Look up your all-time favourite books on Amazon. They will have some 1 and 2*, too. If Phillipa Gregory/Elizabeth Jane Howard/William Boyd, etc, can get bad reviews, so can you; join the club!
Don't consider 3* a bad review ~ 3* means 'it's okay' on Amazon and 'I like it' on Goodreads.
|Sorry this is a bit hard to see, but it's worth squinting at, very funny!!|
Learn from them; if more than one reader says the book has, for instance, unrealistic dialogue, they might be expressing the opinion of many; the majority of readers don't review, but will simply not buy another book from you. A couple of reviews made me rethink my ideas about backstory; I was glad of the feedback, later....
....but reviewers are not obliged to give constructive feedback. The time for a manuscript critique is before publication. If a reviewer just wants to write 'Really boring', they have a right to do so (yes, I know it's hard!!). We don't complain about two word reviews when they just say 'Loved it!', after all... ;)
A few mediocre reviews makes the book look more credible, as if it's been more widely read. Few things look more naff than just eight reviews, all 5*, written by people who've never reviewed anything else.
As far as visibility on Amazon goes, it's the number of reviews rather than the rating average that makes a difference, I believe. So it's all good!
Don't complain to or about book bloggers who do not review your book favourably. If their terms state that they do not guarantee a good review, they mean it! Always read the terms first.
Understand the difference between a bad review from a genuine reader who wasn't that keen on your book, and a troll who is out to get you personally. Shouting 'troll' every time you get a bad review can make you look a bit petulant!
Talking of trolls, though, it can be useful to take a look at the reviewer's profile; what you learn might make you feel better. For instance, I got a really damning review for Nobody's Fault, shortly after I started self-publishing; only an hour before a girl had been trying to bait me on Twitter, saying my good reviews were fake, but I didn't bite. When I looked at the profile, the wish list contained books like 'How to Write a Best Selling Novel'. More recently I got a right stinker on Dream On. A couple of days later the same reviewer posted a similar one on its sequel. When I investigated further (because who would read the sequel of a book they consider only worthy of 1*?) I discovered that it was someone I'd blocked on Twitter.
....but try not to get too hung up/obsessed if you do this sort of research! More often, looking at a reviewing history will simply show you that your writing style is not one that the reviewer likes. For instance, I have rarely had a very good review from avid chick lit readers.
Read, learn from it if possible ~ then walk away....