How To Deal With Bad Reviews by Lisa Fox (@LisaFoxRomance)

I woke up the other morning to a terrible two star review of my latest release. It essentially said that my whole story sucked – my characters sucked, the premise sucked, the chemistry sucked, the writing sucked – basically everything sucked so much, I should quit writing now and find a day job.

And all this before my first cup of coffee.

Bad reviews happen all the time, even to the very best of us. In the end, it is just one person’s opinion, and while it shouldn’t really matter, that doesn’t mean their horrible opinion of you can’t ruin your entire day. It certainly ruined mine for a few hours. Hell, it’s days later, and I’m still thinking about it. A bad review can really make you question everything. Am I a terrible writer? Does my story suck? And if I suck so bad, maybe I should get that day job?

Self-doubt is a vicious thing we’ve all tortured ourselves with on occasion and getting a bad review only exasperates it. It’s okay to wallow, it’s okay to mourn, it’s okay to gash our teeth and curse the heavens, but it is NEVER okay to lash out at the reviewer and post a snarky reply. As we’ve already established, that only makes you look like an asshole.

But you have to DO something right? All that pent up anger and angst needs some kind of outlet and release. Well, here are a few suggestions!

  • Drink champagne – This is always my go to solution for a bad day. It’s hard to be upset with drinking a glass full of bubbly awesomeness.
  • Write that scathing reply, including all the curse words you can come up with to express your opinion of that reviewer’s obviously mistaken opinion, and then DELETE THAT FILE – Sometimes you’ve just got to get it out. As we all know, writing is therapy. Put your anger and sadness into words and lance that boil. Then, like all trash, get rid of it.
  • Eat ice cream – I can’t think of anything better to do when the world has got you down.
  • Focus on the positive – Regardless of what that one person thought, there are people out there who have enjoyed your work. Read over those positive reviews. Bask in their awesomely correct opinion of you. Let it go to your head for a little while.
  • Suck it up and move on – There’s nothing you can do to change a person’s poor opinion. Sometimes you just got to get over it and get on with your life. And, if possible, you can spin it in a positive direction. Maybe they have pointed out a few valid weak points in your narrative or writing style. It can be something to keep in mind for future works. A negative review may help make you a whole lot better writer! (But probably not)

Any advice you’d like to add? Go ahead and post it in the comments!

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10 Responses to How To Deal With Bad Reviews by Lisa Fox (@LisaFoxRomance)

  1. There are ways to give negative criticism without being a jerk. Pointing out what you didn’t like and why without being cruel is the sign of a mature reviewer. If someone does a lot of foot stomping and name calling and using the word ‘suck’ over and over, I assume they’re an immature brat who just likes making others feel bad and their opinion isn’t valid to me. 🙂 You wouldn’t take a screechy five year old’s opinions to heart, would you?

    • You make a valid point, Megan, and I appreciate the support, but in the interest of clarity, the repetitive use of ‘suck’ is all me and my rough translation of the review. The reviewer herself used bigger and better words, but that’s basically what she was saying. Just ‘nicer’. And more literate.

  2. Drink the champagne and eat the ice cream and forget the bad review there are too many good reviews to replace it. Maybe that person was having a bad day.

  3. Argh. The negative review. Why is it that one so-so review has the power to negate (at least in our minds) twenty or more positive ones? They are the ones that sting, the ones we remember. Sometimes I can learn something from them, but the current trend of cutsey (and mean) gifs or a low rating without any specific feedback makes it hard to get anything constructive out of some types of feedback.

    I love your list here–I’m going to have to try the champagne! I’d add to it this: whenever I get a review that brings me down, I go look up the reviews of my all-time favorite stories. When I see a story that is UTTERLY BRILLIANT (well, at any rate, in my humble opinion) get trashed by the same kind of ‘wasn’t for me’ type reviews, I’m reminded that no, not ever story will please every reader, and to expect that is unrealistic.

    It doesn’t stop me from wishing more people who *loved* the story would speak up, though… 😉

    • Looking up the terrible reviews of books I love is a FANTASTIC idea, Sarah! I will add that to my list. Thanks!

      I’ve said it before, but it’s just the truth – champagne fixes everything!

  4. Wise words indeed, Lisa. I tend to rant to my crit group, eat copious amounts of chocolate, and then put it behind me.

    • That rant is so important, Doris. I find I need to get the frustration out in a vocal way – with lots of curses. It really helps me to get over it and move on.