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Dealing With Negative Reviews
You have published your book, it is selling and now you just have to wait until the reviews roll in. Maybe your first few reviews are awesome, five stars, the readers love your work. You are on cloud nine, but then the dreaded 1-star review appears. What went wrong? Why did the reader hate the book? Is there something wrong with the book? Should you pull it and rewrite it? No! Absolutely not!
It can be extremely hard to receive negative reviews, but the reality is almost every writer, even Stephen King has 1-star reviews. Why? Because art is subjective, no matter the medium. It would be impossible for everyone to like your book, just as you don't like every book you have ever read. Perhaps the reader was expecting something else, or they were recommended the book even though it wasn't in their favorite genre. Or maybe they disliked how the story ended. Whatever the reason, they are entitled to their opinion.
A common practice amongst book reviewers is to only post a review if it is three stars or higher. If they cannot give the book a high rating, then they will contact the author and let them know, along with suggestions on what could be improved in the story. Criticism is always constructive. Of course with members of the public, they are free to leave any rating they like.
I have seen some new authors panic when they get a bad review and pull their book to fix the 'problem'. This is a waste of time and money for the author. So what if that one person didn't like it. If you change the book to the way they want it, then someone else will complain that they liked the old way better. Writing is an art form. If you were a painter, you wouldn't scrap a painting that you spent many hours on just because someone doesn't like the color blue, would you? Of course not.
On top of genuine 1-star reviews, there are of course trolls who live to leave bad reviews on books that they themselves have never even read and over the stupidest things. I do not know why trolls get so much pleasure out of this, but they are pretty common in the writing world.
The best advice is to take a look at your reviews as a whole. Are they mostly positive? (This does not work if you only have two or three reviews). What are the positive points listed about your book? Do they love the characters? The plot? Now read your negative reviews. More often than not they say things like, 'Not really my kind of book, I didn't enjoy it.' They are reading a book in a genre they don't like, so naturally, they are not going to like the book.
Of course, there is a chance that you could end up with multiple negative reviews, but rather than get upset, use them as the opportunity to learn. If all the negative reviews say the same thing e.g. The main character was unlikeable or the setting was inaccurate for the time period, then they may be onto something. Only then do you consider altering your book.
A negative review is not the end of the world. Rather than let it ruin your day, celebrate it. Even if it is negative, you evoked a reaction from your reader. And are you really a true author until you've had a bad review?
Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Samantha Gregory