What Self-published Authors Should Do About a Bad Review

Posted by Arthur Gutch
Published On Oct 27, 2014


A bad book review is not uncommon and it will not be your last!

There is one truism that all self-published authors must accept -- not everyone is going to like what you write. The good news is a bad review at least means someone is reading your book. Book marketing is a big part of the self-publishing world, so how you choose to handle a bad review matters. Let’s look at what one writer did the wrong when responding to a bad review and the backlash that ensued and then consider some more positive approaches.

Bad book review

What Not to Do

Kiri Blakeley, contributing writer to Forbes, tells the story of one self-published author who went on the defensive when someone posted a bad review about her book. The poster stated that the book was full of typos and grammatical errors, making it difficult to read.

In the author’s defense, the reviewer was less than kind when pointing this out. The comment was full of words one doesn’t usually hear in polite conversation. The author went on the attack by insisting the writing was fine and demanding the reviewer delete the post.

By the time it was all over, there were over 300 comments, most of them bad, about the book and the author’s lack of professionalism. The outburst even ended up repeated on Twitter.

How Should You Handle a Bad Review?

Author Isaac Asimov once said that writers fall into two groups: the ones that bleed visibly with every bad review and those who bleed secretly. Your goal is to be the latter, because there will always be someone that hates your self-published book. You can’t control what your readers say; only how you react to it.

Instead of giving in to that urge to strike back, consider some holistic ways to handle the problem.

1. Look at the Stats of a Bestseller

That is the beauty of online sites like Amazon or Barnes and Noble. You can easily look up a book title and see the review statistics. Mockingjay, the final book in the Hunger Games series, has over 900 one star reviews.  

2. Put it in Perspective

A self-published book with only glowing reviews looks suspicious. A bad review every once in a while keeps it honest, while keeping you humble at the same time.

3. Categorize the Review

There are two types of bad reviews, a troll comment meant to insight and one that offers constructive criticism. Once you get past the angry stage, read the review again and put it in one of those categories.

  • If it is a troll review, ignore it and move on with your life.

  • If the reviewer makes legitimate points, then dissect the information and learn from it. 

The best way to offset a bad review is with a good one, so when you are out doing book marketing, encourage the people you meet to offer up a review. If you do respond to the comment, make sure to limit your response to a thank you. Anything else sounds defensive and puts you in a bad light. 

Now... that review doesn't sound so bad...does it?

Keep the Faith and may the Force be with You!

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Topics: Marketing, self publishing, author marketing, time to write, book reviewers, audiobooks

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