What to Do if You Get a Bad Review

March 28, 2014 by Laura J. Davis

Originally posted on the Laura J. Davis blog

One of the hardest things for authors to refrain from doing is defending their work. I know, because I’ve been trying to refrain from it for over a month. And let me tell you, it is not an easy thing to do.

Unfortunately, not all the reviews you get for your book are going to be glowing. There will come a time when you hit a nerve and people are going to respond—badly. There are different kinds of bad reviews though. There are the ones that pick apart everything you said and demand that you justify and explain yourself (they are just plain mean). Others will be legitimate complaints about your editing job. I have read books that made me sit back in stunned silence wondering why the author did not invest in an editor. When I get a book like that to review, I contact the author privately to let her know why she won’t be getting 3 stars. Not every reviewer however, will do that. A wise author will make the investment in an editor or suffer the backlash of bad reviews. And let’s not forget the cover. If it screams self-published you will hear about it.

So, how do you respond to a bad review? What if the reviewer misunderstood what you said, or simply didn’t “get it”? Should you go on Amazon and explain yourself? The answer is no. I reviewed a book on Mormonism once (I can’t recall the title) but the author, an ex-Mormon, was getting thoroughly chewed out for calling Mormonism a cult. Many admitted to not reading the book, but only went on to encourage people not to buy it and they left a few choice words for the author. Yes, some people are vindictive and if they are prepared to hate your book, you will never be able to convince them otherwise.

Mark Twain once said, “Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.” Keep that in mind if you are thinking of responding to a bad review. You might start getting trolls.

What are trolls? Some of them are from people that love to give bad reviews, like this guy who has written 276 negative reviews for Amazon. Others just like to make fun of the product/book they are reviewing. Amazon has enjoyed these types of trolls so much they have a link to them here

In the end, bad reviews for authors should be a learning experience in which they can improve themselves. If it is just a hateful review, it isn’t worth the author’s time of day so don’t respond to it. Negative reviews are not fun, but if the reviewer gives a legitimate reason they can help you grow as an author.

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About this Contributor

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Laura J. Davis is a former singer/songwriter who took to writing full-time after emergency surgery caused the loss of her singing voice. Her singing career had lasted for 30 years. Her first book, Come to Me, won a Reader’s Favourite Award. In 2013, her bible study Learning from the Master, Living a Surrendered Life, was featured in Book Fun Magazine as the non-fiction book of the month first place winner. She has had stories featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul Married Life and Chicken Soup for the Soul the Dating Game. Her latest book, He Who Has an Ear, is a look at who the seven churches of Revelation are today. Laura is currently featured in the Author’s Network book, 50 Great Authors You Should be Reading.

When Laura is not writing she is teaching bible studies and reviewing books. She can be contacted through her website at www.laurajdavis.com