Fiction and Writing

Handling Negative Reviews.


Handling Negative Reviews


Take a seat my darlings, we’re going to have a bit of a talk.

They say there are only two certainties in life, death and taxes. If you’re an author, you can add getting negative reviews to that list.

I’m afraid that I’m not going to pussy-foot around here. Negative reviews are a part of the publishing process. Youย are going to get some, at some point. How you choose to deal with them is important.

I’ve had negative reviews, and my reactions ranged from shrugging them off, to agreeing with them, to doing a happy dance. I’m not going to tell you that they don’t hurt like a sonofabitch. They do, especially in the beginning when it’s your first or second book. You need to put on your big author pants and deal with it though. For your sanity, and for the sake of your business, because publishing is a business.

I’m afraid that criticism, whether from your beta readers, your editor, or readers, is a natural part of this entire journey. You need to learn how to deal with that as early as possible. Some people choose not to read their reviews, fantastic, if it works for them, awesome! Personally I do read mine because I like seeing the trends there. Do I have a common thread where people complain that Bob’s too much of a beta male? Did they consistently love the action scenes? I can, and do try to learn from those reviews. They’re feedback. They’re insight into the readers’ experience of my books.

How you choose to deal with them is down to you.

Some of them you can shrug off. There will always be those who have nothing to offer you, for example someone complaining that my use of British English is stupid and the book’s full of typos. That has nothing of value to me.

Some of them are valuable, as I said, if you see a number of people with the same (or similar) complaint or compliment, learn from it.

Oh and don’t be super sad when you get your first negative review. Celebrate! That means that you got out of your little social circle! It means that you’re getting somewhere, you’re reaching shiny new people. Ok so they weren’t overly impressed with your book, but there are other people. Other new shiny people who also read your book! That’s a big step. Do a little dance.

I’m not going to tell you that it’s easy. You poured your heart and soul into that book. You bled onto those pages (hopefully not literally) and offered yourself up for public consumption. That’s hard! That’s terrifying!

That’s why you need to learn to step back and see that those reviews are comments on yourย book not you. Learn what you can, scream at your cat, eat your ice-cream, then move on. Do better next time. Learn from the criticism. Embrace the compliments. The world’s a big, scary, harsh place. Put on a smile and write the next book.

Most importantly, remember that you’re not alone in this. Oh and whatever you do,ย do not acknowledge or respond to a negative review publicly. Never. Ever. Do that. If you need to rant to your BFF in private, great. Do that. Do not, ever, talk about it in public though.

I have faith in you. I know you can do this.



13 thoughts on “Handling Negative Reviews.

  1. Fantastic advice, thanks for sharing! Dealing with negative comments can be hard but as you said, you could learn a lot if you put on your big author pants! I had a lot of betas and got a lot of different feedback – a lot of it awesome, some of it negative. That’s the whole point, right? To fix what needs fixing?
    Anyway, before I go off on a rant – great post! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

      1. One of my betas asked me if I’d get mad if she pointed out mistakes :/ Makes you wonder what some writers are thinking going into this process. What’s the point if you don’t want to improve?


      2. Ego stroking. To be completely blunt. I told my editor to shred my work. Don’t hold back, I want every little flaw highlighted so I can make it the best possible book.


  2. You make a valid point about reading one’s reviews to discover possible trends, and it’s a really good idea. I, personally, don’t read my reviews because I can’t even handle reading the good ones. (I’m weird like that.)

    And I’ve known a few writers who have asked me for an honest (but not mean!) critique of their work…only to cut ties with me upon receiving it. But, like you said above, I want my betas and editors to shred my work because I want to make it the best I can.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a shame when people ask for honest criticism but get upset when they receive it. It is very weird reading reviews of your books, so I completely understand why you choose not to read yours at all ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Such brilliant advice as always ๐Ÿ™‚ Getting my first negative review is something I spend a lot of time thinking about. I always tell myself that I’ll be able to approach it with a good spirit, but I’m afraid that when the time comes I won’t. I’ll hold onto the valuable insight you’ve presented and hope that it will help me when the moment comes.
    As always, your wisdom is well appreciated! โค

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’re so right about all this! Negative reviews help you see your weak points. More than one saying the same thing means there might be a problem you can rectify (do take notice of the typos ones, it may mean you need a better proofreader!!). Most of all, don’t shout ‘troll’ every time you get one…. I am sure you agree. I remember, ages ago, some writer ranting on Twitter about a a ‘troll’ who’d written him a bad review. I and another person both commented ‘maybe he just didn’t like your book’. The guy couldn’t handle this at all. Big difference between an unimpressed reader and a troll!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are too many stories of people crying troll and doing big rants about people who ‘dared’ leave a negative review. It’s unpleasant and gives indies a bad name. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
      Thanks for stopping by!


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