The Best Side of Bad Reviews

I am actually NOT speaking specifically about a bad review of my work.  I happened to see a tweet fly by in my stream this morning from Jane Litte (the other half of the powerhouse team that puts on DABWAHA every year) of Dear Author where someone had apparently accused her of killing authors’ dreams.

Because, y’all, it’s true.

Bad reviews happen.  They can be hurtful, insulting, and make us want to do bodily harm.  As a rule, I have mostly stopped reading reviews because the poor ones put me in a very dejected frame of mind.  But there are still some I read (usually book blogger reviews).  I’ve been fortunate that most have been quite positive.  But not all.  Jane reviewed Red after DABWAHA.  Sarah (of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books) loved it.  Jane didn’t.

And I wasn’t upset by that.  Because Jane’s review was well thought out, clearly laid out what did not work for her, and gave me plenty of food for thought about areas where I can bring more to the game.  It was not insulting.  Am I proud of Red?  Hell yes.  It was the best book I could write at the time.

The next book will be better.  And part of that is because Jane gave some really excellent constructive criticism that made me want to deepen my work and make it stronger.

If that isn’t your ultimate response to bad reviews (and I mean legitimate ones, not the troll-tastic ones), then you are absolutely not cut out to be an author.

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7 thoughts on “The Best Side of Bad Reviews

  1. I have come to realize not everyone will like my books. I’ve had some of those “troll-tastic” reviews, and they aren’t helpful at all. But the reviews that are well thought out and point out specific things that didn’t work for the reader can be beneficial. That being said, reviews are still subjective, even the ones that are thoughtfully written. Jane’s C+ is my A+ in this instance. Red kept me reading during my time in an airport, and that usually doesn’t happen because airports are distracting to me. I couldn’t put Red down. Okay, I promise I’m not trying to suck up. LOL. I’m just pointing out that not everyone feels the same about every book. Sarah loved it, Jane had some problems with it. If you agree with some of the things Jane said, though, then you can use those things to write a better book the next time. I’m glad you’re proud of Red. You should be.

    I think this post is really good for newbie authors to read. When you’re new in this business, bad reviews can be so hurtful. But if new authors can take advice from those of us who’ve been doing this awhile, and realize we’ve all been through it, it can lessen the blow, I think. I, too, have stopped reading reviews. Mostly.

    1. Some of Jane’s comments didn’t apply in the sense that I was not trying to write the kind of book she was referencing. So no, I didn’t go there. But it still gave me much food for thought on ways I can deepen my work and make for more compelling characters and conflict in ways that don’t wind up crossing the line into cliche.

      1. A thought on critique that assumes your book is meant to be something it’s not:

        Something to ask yourself when that happens is Why did the reviewer assume this? Sometimes—not always, but sometimes—it’s something you did or said that gave the impression, something you can change in the future.

        But yes, I agree with you that a well thought-out critique shouldn’t kill your dreams.

  2. Very true! It’s so important to keep negative reviews in perspective. I’ve written a handful of negative reviews, which I weigh heavily before posting out of respect for the author’s feelings, but I try to mention what I liked about the books, too. I’m only one person and I’m sure most authors will get to enjoy many opinions that differ from mine.

  3. Great post! It’s true. Bad reviews suck. A LOT!
    But…they’re not enough to get me down. They might be enough for me to hide in my bed and pout for a little bit, but then…back at it. Because…I AM a writer.
    And some of those bad reviews are helpful and help me become a better writer. See? Silver lining and all that.
    But there are those reviews that I toss out, those people who clearly feel better by making you feel bad. I’ve had those too. One in particular makes it a habit to pull out lines of the book to make fun of. Productive? Not so much.
    Fortunately those haters are few and far between.

    Awesome post, Kait!

  4. Excellent, excellent, excellent! I’m not in the place yet to have anything more reviewed than my blog, but I see this played out everywhere. I see writers who stop writing with a bad review, which I frankly find ridiculous.

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