How Should An Author React to a Bad Review?

This blog post originally appeared on Pypeline Editing’s blog. Here’s the link. Jenny Perry and Krystal Pyatt are a terrific team of editors and I strongly recommend checking out their Web site for editing advice. This is a re-blog of sorts! Thanks for reading.

The Story of One Lost Sheep

A favorite story of mine is of a shepherd who had a hundred sheep, but one had strayed. Was he happy that he had ninety-nine happy sheep? Sure. But, he really obsessed over that one sheep he had lost. He wouldn’t stop looking for it until he found it. Then when he found it he greatly rejoiced over it.

This is a Bible story and it really has a different meaning than the one I’m using it for, but I’ve been kind of feeling like that shepherd lately. I happened to notice a one-star review on my book The Altered I, Memoir of Joseph Kempler Holocaust Survivor. I wasn’t too surprised. In fact I’d been wondering when that would actually happen. Not that I wanted it to, mind you, but you know, not everyone is going to like everything, even if others do rave about it. But, I have to wonder why. It was a rating, without a review. Was it something I did? Was the book not what they expected? Did they start it and realize without finishing it that it just wasn’t their cup of tea? I really do respect that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I guess this one-star haunts me. I want to go out there and bring it back into the fold, so to speak. I know that sounds crazy.

So what do you do if you get a bad review?

Nothing. Accept that this person felt free enough to express their feelings on the matter.

Act professional. Don’t contact them and ask WHY?!

Be grateful for all the wonderful five and four-star reviews.

That one-star makes you look legit. It’s true, a lot of friends and family will leave excellent reviews, but it will look better in the long-run to garner reviews from people you don’t even know.

Learn from your mistakes, and write better.

The strangest thing could happen. The reviewer might change their mind and re-review it. One of the biggest fans of The Altered I–and  no it wasn’t my mother–confided that she didn’t like the book the first time she read it, but it lingered with her and she had to read it again. She has gone on to buy multiple copies, given them out as gifts and even suggested the book for her book club, which they in turn agreed to and also purchased multiple copies. How’s that for a surprise ending?

So please don’t judge the reviewer too harshly. They don’t know that there is a flesh and blood person on the receiving end of that review. They just want to share their opinion in a forum that allows them freedom to do just that. As author and world-famous blogger Kristen Lamb says an author must develop rhino skin.

Some helpful links you might want to check out:

What do you do if you get a one-star review? Tweet That!

 

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