Negative Book Reviews: Tips for dealing with them

So you got a Bad Review huh?

Crying Girl by , via http://www.empireave.com/

If you haven’t, it might be worth knowing how to prepare yourself for it if and when it happens.

 

Because the first one you get is pretty upsetting. You might feel like giving up, or at least slip into a funk for a day or two, even if you are usually a pretty upbeat person. Nothing feels worse than having your hard work attacked. (dramatic I know. That’s what it feels like though!)

 

So what can you do?

 

I’ll base this on my husband’s experience.

 

Hubby wrote a book about studying for the business schools admissions test (the GMAT) within 30 days. It’s based on his own story whereby he changed his graduate program at the last minute and they required a GMAT score. He really did study for only 30 days (albeit pretty hardcore) and he scored in the top 1%. He’s not a genius, his situation just forced him to study smart. He wrote the book to share what he learned in that month.

 

The thing is, some people are going to love his book. Those in the same situation as him – short on time to study, those using it correctly, those who can and are willing to study hardcore for 30 days, those who follow the study plan he lays out, those who find his study methods effective.

And then there are going to be those who don’t like the book. Those who are looking for a “quick fix” without putting in the work, those who don’t like the personal tone of the book, those who might not like the holistic approach to studying – the mind and body section, those who quite simply can’t relate to his studying techniques. After all, like with anything else in life but especially with studying, different strokes for different folks right? We all process information and understand things differently.

 

You can’t please everyone.

 

Out of 10 reviews on Amazon, 8 have been awesome, and 2 have been horrible.

Horrible. Actually offensive.

You might think 80% positive is not a bad percentage, and it’s not. But even a 1 star review can kill sales. Luckily it hasn’t killed sales, but we have certainly noticed them slowing down a little when the reviews are first published.

 

So how do you handle such criticism  of your baby? Here are suggestions for both the emotional and practical ways you can respond.

 

Emotional Ways to Overcome a Bad Review:

 

Remind yourself that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and that it takes all sorts to make the world go round.

Look up the reviewer’s other reviews and see if they aren’t just a very strongly opinionated person. It happens.

Yelp! or Amazon search your favorite restaurant, coffee shop, restaurant, book and see if there aren’t a few horrid reviews up there with the awesome ones. Even the Bible got a few pretty bad Amazon reviews.

Re-read your awesome reviews. Have a cookie. Or a glass of wine! Allow yourself a set amount of time to sulk (an hour or so). Call that person who always tells you how good your writing is an indulge in a little ego stroking. Now get back on the horse and forgedabout it!

Realize that some people have their own agenda. It might just be to better their own sales. Sh*t like this really happens.

Try to separate yourself from your work. I know it feels personal. 95% of the time it isn’t you it’s them. Really.

 

Practical Ways to Overcome a Bad Review:

 

See this as a firecracker up your ass to get more, better reviews! The more GOOD reviews you have, the more diluted the bad review(s) will be. It might be just the push you needed. See this post on getting more reviews.

If you suspect that this is a malicious review by a competing author, Amazon has been known to delete these reviews. Email community-help@amazon.com to explain the situation and why you think it is inappropriate. Ask what can be done about it.

Think about replying to the review. My husband ended up replying to all of the reviews – both positive and negative – and thanked each one for taking the time to leave the review. Then for the negative ones he said he was sorry that they were disappointed, and offered them a full refund. After all, as I’ve mentioned before, yes books are for entertainment and reactions will always be subjective, but they are still a consumer product and it is still our duty as authors and publishers to put out a good product (if you haven’t already, you MUST get yourself an editor). Offering refunds is not recommended for every type of book, but in the case of a non-fiction it might be something to think about.

 

Over to you. How have you dealt with a negative review? What have you found to be effective both practically and emotionally?



Laura Pepper Wu is the co-founder of 30 Day Books: a book studio. She has worked with a variety of authors to successfully promote their books, including many Amazon best-sellers. Laura is the author of wedding non-fiction guides and book marketing guides 77 Ways to Find New Readers for Your Self-Published Book and Fire Up Amazon!

Laura also runs Ladies Who Critique, a critique-partner finding site. When she's not working at the studio, you can find her walking her dog, "yoga-ing" or at a coffee shop in Seattle.