Be willing to accept bad reviews and constructive criticism on your writing, your marketing, or your overall professional presence. I’m not just talking about crits from people in the know (editors, publicists, and the like–though certainly pay attention to what they say), I’m speaking of your readers and the general public, too. Learning what to do about bad reviews can help your ego and your reputation recover quickly.
My book got a bad review!
Get a bad review? Put on your big kid panties and learn from it. Harsh advice, but I’m not here to hold your hand and tell you the world is a nice place. It’s also not a really horrible place. You may not believe it right now, but aside from the occasional internet troll, most reviewers mean well. They took the time to write something, now give that feedback the attention it deserves. Take a lesson from the bad review and reevaluate your writing, marketing, professional presence, or even your pricing and website structure. Whatever the ‘bad’ review is, turn it into a positive and DO something about it.
And if you’ve received a well-worded, thoughtful crit from someone in the know, take it as a sign of interest and treat that person with respect. Even if the comment wasn’t gushing and full of praise and didn’t leave you with warm-fuzzies, the fact this professional took the time to comment at all should be taken as a good sign. Reply with a snippy, short, or rude comment and you’ve just burned a bridge; you can kiss that connection (and all THEIR connections) goodbye.
What to do about bad reviews
Simply put, you should handle criticism with poise and dignity. Always be polite. Thank them for the time they took to comment, assure them that you’ll look into the issue and address it as quickly as possible, and even ask a question or two. Starting a respectful dialogue with the reviewer/commenter is an excellent way to turn a negative into a positive. Especially when the conversation is readable by everyone on the internet. Doing that will also out a troll pretty quickly, and everyone will know the review or comment was unfair to begin with.
Quick tips for surviving a bad review
- Read the review carefully, leaving your emotions behind.
- Ask a trusted colleague to read the review and see if they think it is fair. Not that they agree, but if it was an unbiased review.
- Take notes on the important points of the review.
- Wait 24 hours before responding. This gives you time to calm down so you don’t say something stupid and start a war.
- Reply with a sincere thank you. They’ll appreciate the acknowledgment of their time and effort.
- Ask questions about the review and if the reviewer has any suggestions that would make things better.
- Accept that your writing won’t please everyone, and that’s okay!
Getting a bad review can be a big slap in the face. Even best-selling authors get bad reviews from time to time, so don’t feel bad. You can’t take them personally–assuming they weren’t actually personal attacks, of course. When you learn what to do about bad reviews, you can handle the situation with dignity and respect. This small act can go a long way toward improving your reputation and your writing overall.
See the Facebook conversation here: https://www.facebook.com/128516923907226/posts/319137518178498
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