My Three Stages Of Dealing With A Bad Review

A less-than-stellar review of “Fifty Shades of Grey”

Every book gets a bad review. Even books that sell millions of copies and are widely acknowledged as amazing. Example 1: the Fifty Shades Trilogy. I once read somewhere that if you’re upset about getting a bad review, all you need to do is look up your favorite book on Amazon and Goodreads and look at all the 1 star reviews. Definitely a good trick. I, however, have stages I go through.

Stage #1: “1 star? You’ve clearly been living under a rock.”

Writers spend hours, days, weeks, months, and sometimes years on their books. We stress about them, constantly think about them, and just like that someone has deemed it the worst piece of smut they have ever read. Ouch. This generally envokes feelings of “What? You have no idea what you’re talking about? Do you have any idea what I had to go through to finish this?”

Stage #2: Self-doubt: “No, I’m fine, really. I’ll just, uh, start all over.”

Any anger has generally subsided by this stage. Now the moving on begins. This is also when I generally begin more positive thinking. Such things as “I’ll do better next time,” and “This will help me in the future.” However, lingering sadness from the bad review is still there.

Stage #3: Back to work!

By this time, I’m over the bad review and I’m back to writing. Who has time to worry about bad reviews? Every book gets a bad review, and the best thing you can do is use it as kindling to ignite your motivation to write more.

(Note: This only takes a matter of an hour or two before all the stages have been experienced)

How do you respond to bad reviews? If you’ve never had one, how do you think you’ll handle it?


11 thoughts on “My Three Stages Of Dealing With A Bad Review

  1. I’ve not had a review yet. But I think social media has changed everything. You could respond to it by setting up your own review page and ask fellow bloggers to review your work. Also take the view that all publicity is good!

  2. That’s the attitude. Take away what you can to help you next time. However, always remember that Dita Von Teese quote “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”
    Just because someone didn’t like it doesn’t make it crap.
    Then again (and referring to your above example), just because a bunch of people do like i doesn’t make it great, either. You write what you want to write to the standard you are capable of right now, knowing that you will get better. Sure, maybe you shouldn’t sell today’s work if tomorrow’s is going to be better … but where do you draw that line? You write, you put it out there. You will get love. You will get derision. Oh … ha … I’m rambling again.
    I haven’t had a negative review, yet, mainly because what I have available for review is free and if people don’t like it they’re just going to stop reading and go elsewhere … While those that like it will beg for me to put more up. So, sure. I get a few positive reviews. Doesn’t mean it’s all that great (I know it’s not). But you know what? I’m still working toward publication. I know it’s not going to be a great literary work. Some might even lump it with stories I don’t like. But so be it. I can’t please everyone. Only me, really. And hopefully a few others.
    The secret, Chris, is to remember how lucky you are to have found a career you love this much – to march on out there and put your art before the world. Good on you.

  3. I tend to sink into a bit of a funk for a while. Lots of self-doubt, couple parts anger, silently argue my points against the review. Gradually I reach acceptance and more clear-headed objective consideration of what was said. Unless there is absolutely no basis or supporting evidence for the negative comments. If someone just says ‘this book is crap’ and does not support their position, I tend to yell at them (in my mind) for their lack of useful commentary and dismiss it rather quickly.

    • That certainly isn’t an illogical way to handle it. Naturally people are going to be upset when someone doesn’t like their work. Even more so when people have bad things to say about it. But going out and trolling them isn’t professional.

      I hardly ever let any comments that don’t provide any details bother me too much. If they didn’t take the time to provide any, that leads me to believe they didn’t take the time to fully critique the work.

  4. Since I’m not technically published yet, I don’t have any official bad reviews. However, I did have a beta reader once read three chapters of the book, then inform me that I needed to rewrite the entire thing. That was super helpful. I was depressed for a week. Although I think I have more or less re-written the entire thing since then, lol.

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