Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Do Not Engage - How to handle a negative review.

Lately, there seems to be a surge of reviewers being told what they can and can't post as reviews, and when.

A reviewer can post a review of 1-5 stars, whenever they please. They can have any reason for giving
a book any rating they want. Why? Because it's their opinion, not yours, or mine. It's theirs.
The only thing a review should probably avoid, is attacking the author. Because that's just not cool. But no one takes those reviews seriously anyway.

Reviewers: Always post the reviews you want to post. Stick with your honest opinion and keep doing what you do! EVERY review counts! If anyone gives you crap for it, block their butt.

What you can do:
You message, call, whatever your closest friends and cry about it. You talk about how stupid that reviewers opinion is, and then you suck it up buttercup, and get over it.

What you do not want to do, under any circumstances is engage. Let's just make a list of what you don't do shall we?

You do NOT:
Ask(demand) that the reviewer take down their review.
Tell them they shouldn't have left a review, for any reason.
Down vote their review. (They know it's from you!)
Message them directly over facebook and tell them they are wrong, they suck, or whatever.
Harass them in any way, shape, or form.
Send your friends to do any of the above.

What should you do? Simple.
Move on, sweetheart, and go find more readers elsewhere. You don't have to go back to that reviewer in the future.  

A reviewer's opinion is not wrong, because it's their opinion, not yours or anyone elses.

No, getting a book free, because it was an ARC, or a gift, or they won it, or whatever is not a reason to expect a 5 star review.

I know what you're asking. "But Ali, when should I expect a 5 star review? What does an author have to do to get one for sure?"
My answer is simple. You can expect a 5 star review when you write a book, publish it, and some one posts a 5 star review.
I know that's not what you wanted to hear, but hey. That's life. You aren't perfect, and even if you were, you'd still get a 1 or 2 star eventually. All authors get one at one time or another.

It sucks. I know. I get it, I really do.

What can you do with the bad reviews? Learn from them.
Find out what the reader didn't like about your story, was it the fact that it head hopped? (go back and pick a POV and stick with it.) Or it looked like you typed it with your feet? (Maybe find a new editor)
Was your protagonist relatable/likable? Was your villain complex or just a lame plot device? (develop your characters, ALL of them.)
The list could go on and on. But if you have tried and you just can't find anything to learn, forget
about it. Reread your positive reviews, and then go write your next book! 

Even my worst review has taught me something.
It just said the back of the book made it sound better than it was.
Okay, that sucks, but I managed to find something to learn from it. (It was hard with so little explanation) But what it taught me was that I should learn to write blurbs in my same writing voice, so it doesn't throw people off, and to make it as clear as possible, without spoilers, but hopefully so it won't give the wrong impression.

Just remember kiddies, a low review will NOT ruin your career, it will not break any chance of your book making it. I can not tell you the number of times I've heard a reader saying they don't trust a book with all 5 star reviews. Why? Because it looks like you bought them. Some shady people have been known to do that in the past.
Why? I'm not sure. I'd rather spend that money on advertising, or food, or something fun, like a new camera lens.
It's not the number of stars that helps you, but the number of reviews.

In the end, take a lesson from J.K. Rowling herself, or even Meridith Wilde. You don't see them crying over 1 star reviews, yet they have them. What are they doing? Getting over it and smiling at the fact that far more people love their books than those who don't.
If you're just starting out, that's cool. You might not have thousands of reviews, but as long as you focus on the good, you will be okay. 
The best revenge is to just keep at it, keep doing what you love, and share it.



  1. Well said. Keep writing and keep trying to better yourself.

  2. I think this is exactly as it should be handled. Sure, we're all gonna vent because it's emotional-- we opened ourselves up and somebody didn't like what they saw, that's gonna hurt. But it doesn't behoove anybody to get malicious; retaliation solves nothing.

  3. Excellent points!! Well said!!! Also, I would add not to post them on social media and ask "Oh why did they say that?" Asking your friends/followers their opinion of a low star review is worthless. You know that they will side with you and it might give one of them the idea to "stalk" that reviewer. Never know.... Like you said, learn from the review if there is something to be learned; if not, just move on. You gave the best advice!