In the back of your mind you thought it might happen. You wish it wouldn’t happen. During the chaos of self publishing your first book, you forgot it could happen. And then it happens.
Scrolling down on your book’s Amazon sales page, you see your first bad book review. It’s only text on a screen, but it feels like a punch in the gut. You feel disrespected, hurt, sad, and mad all at the same time.
The book you put countless time, energy, and sacrifice into producing has been thrown in the mud by some jerk—I mean some reader.
What’s worse is the problem isn’t isolated. This guy or girl’s opinion influences other potential book buyers. What are prospective buyers going to think after reading that?
So how do you handle a bad book review? Your response needs to be part science and part art to properly defuse the negative effect. If you mishandle it, it only snowballs downward.
How To Handle Bad Book Reviews
The worst thing you can do is throw fuel on the fire by firing back an insulting response to the reviewer. It will alienate the rest of your audience and cause you far more problems than a bad book review ever could on its own.
However, if you follow the five steps below, you’ll soon forget about the bad review and it won’t have any power of you.
1. Relax knowing you joined excellent company
Think you’re one of the few authors who received a harsh book review? You thought wrong. Look at these reader’s responses to all-time classic books.
“This collection of books is really, really terrible and boring, and I wouldn’t wish the task of reading in on my worst enemy,” review of The Lord of the Rings. Or this review of Twilight, “I’d like to say the book had potential, but I don’t think it did.” And even F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby took a hit when a reviewer commented, “It was one of the most boring and shallow books that I have ever read.”
This goes to show that one or a few readers negative review won’t stop a good book from getting the recognition it deserves. This books more than overcome negative criticism.
Every author faces this reality in their career, so relax knowing it’s part of the “author initiation process.” When you’re relaxed and your emotions are kept at bay, you can properly execute the next steps.
2. Don’t respond!
Your time is far better spent in a positive direction like marketing your book or writing new content than going in the mud to duke it out with a negative reviewer. A war of words with a reviewer makes the author look defensive and insecure. And it’s so unlikely that you’ll get the reviewer to change their mind and change their review. So why bother?
The best move is to not respond and forget about it before you create a mountain out of a molehill. If you really need to vent, scream about it to yourself, a family member, or a friend. This way it stays between you two, and not for the world to see how rattled you are.
3. Read your positive reviews
It’s easy to focus on the bad reviews and forget about all the good reviews, especially if you’re a perfectionist. But this doesn’t make sense as an author or a human. Because where you choose to give your attention shapes how you feel. So choose happiness by reading the positive reviews. You’ll regain your confidence about the quality of your book from simply deciding to read the good news.
4. Seek more positive reviews
I look at seeking positive book reviews and book marketing as one in the same. How do you accomplish these goals?
- Build your blog content t0 grow your audience
- Ask friends to review your book and share it with their network
- Email your subscribers to order the book and review it
- Post your book on social media with a compelling ask for a review
- Write guest posts and speak on podcasts
- Possibly pay for book promotion
When you direct your energy to gain more positive reviews, eventually all of your positive reviews will drown out the negative ones.
5. Remember your initial goal
It’s easy to lose focus on why you wrote the book when dealing with negativity. That’s why the final step in handling a negative review is to remember the reason why you wrote the book and focus on that.
Maybe it was to make more money, increase business leads, build authority in a niche, share your story, or see if you could actually become an author. When you remember your goal, you’ll be excited that did it and your investment in this book will continue to work for you long after the publish date.
Why Bad Book Reviews Can Be A Positive
It’s true, bad book reviews can be a good thing for your book and you. Sometimes they can even do more for you than positive book reviews.
If you don’t believe me, check out why in the reasons below.
1. Adds a review to your book
Less reviewers than you think scroll down to read each and every Amazon review before buying. But you better believe each potential buyer is checking the total number of reviews for your title! The good news is that any review, positive or negative, adds on to that total review count to increase your book’s perception. A book with 61 reviews, some 1- or 2-star, appears better and gets higher visibility on Amazon than a book with 17 reviews, all 5-star.
2. Gives your title more credibility
I know some people who get sketched out if a book has a low number of reviews and they’re all 5 stars. Think about it. If you land on a book and it has only nine reviews and they’re all 5-star, you know this author has at least nine family members and friends who could have written these. But a family member or friend wouldn’t leave a 1-star review even if they thought the title deserved it. A wide array of reviews gives your book more credibility that strangers are reading it and giving their honest feedback. This is just another reason why bad reviews aren’t so bad, and can be helpful.
3. Helps you develop thicker skin
Anytime you publicly put yourself out there by doing something new, there will be haters. And it takes practice to let criticism of your work roll right off your back since your natural instinct is to take it personal. That’s why you can arguably be thankful for the negative reviewer, because he or she helps you develop thicker skin. Now, the next time you do a project, the negativity won’t hold as much weight. And over time, you’ll learn that your attitude and beliefs about your work is what matters the most.
4. Provides insight for you to improve
Not all negative reviews come from people trying to ruin your book’s life. Some 1- or 2-star reviews actually have reasonable points that are spot on. Maybe they didn’t appreciate the writing style, grammar, or organization of your piece. If you want to improve, take an honest look at their comment and you’ll know what to improve on for your next book. Other times their comments don’t make sense and they don’t give you constructive criticism. But you don’t know unless you’re open to their comment at the beginning.
Have you received a negative book review? How did you handle it? Please leave a comment below with your thoughts or questions.