How to Handle a Bad Book Review

Face it. Bad book reviews happen. Even the most acclaimed writers get bad reviews, whether it's from the New York Times Book Review or an anonymous reviewer on Amazon. Evaluating a book is a subjective process, and personal preferences won’t always match the book. 

Unfortunately, too many writers take bad reviews personally and even go to the extremes, engaging in negative banter, slander, and threats. When it comes to negative reviews, there are ways to work through them and even see them as an asset to your writing. Here are a few tips to help you take those bad reviews with grace.

DO:

  1. Remember that it’s not a personal affront. The reviewer just didn’t like your book. Do you like everything you read?
  2. Take a deep breath. Cool off. Put the review away in a dark place for a few days. Taking time to let the fresh emotions wear off will help you think more rationally and calmly when you look at it again.
  3. Look at who the reviewer is. Are they known for giving glowing reviews, or is negativity their forte? It may have nothing to do with you.
  4. Look at the review objectively. Are there constructive comments you can use to improve your next project? It could be a learning opportunity.
  5. Be gracious and poised. Acting professional, taking bad reviews with a grain of salt, and maintaining a positive working relationship with book reviewers will only help you in the long run. 

DO NOT:

  1. DO NOT under any circumstances send a rebuttal. Just let it go. You may think you are defending yourself, but it only makes you look bad, not the reviewer.
  2. DO NOT slander or in any way bad-mouth the reviewer on your social media accounts or through other outlets. Not only does this make you look unprofessional, but you can also set yourself up for legal claims.

Remember, as an author, you have put yourself out there for public scrutiny. Negative book reviews show that people are reading your work and that you have drummed up enough interest to warrant a review. We've all heard the phrase that there's no such thing as bad PR. When it comes to dealing with negative reviews, the same rule applies. It is better to have a negative review than no review at all. 

Bad reviews of good books also provide balance. An article from iMedia Connection, shows that too many good reviews can become fluff, and a bit unbelievable. Bad reviews from valid third parties let the reader know that reviews of your book are authentic. The majority of the time, the number of bad reviews is small compared to good reviews. 

Plus, all reviews, good and bad, help by prequalifying book buyers and weeding out those who may not be a good fit for your topic. Online communities like Goodreads are geared toward helping readers find books they'll love, and consumer reviews are a major component in that process. 

All in all, take bad reviews with a grain of salt. They don’t spell doom, and sometimes can even help. By taking the high road and maintaining your composure in the face of bad reviews, you’ll come out on top in the end.