You Are Now Entering The Review Zone
If you publish a book, no matter what the method (traditional or indie), there will be readers out there who don’t dig it. Yeah, it sucks, especially when you put your heart and soul into a novel, but not everyone’s going to like the choices your characters make, their personalities, the language they use – or something as minor as their names. (Yep, there are people who get hung up on that sort of thing.)
Do you like every book you read? No, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t millions of readers who don’t adore the sleeper you just couldn’t get into. (Ahem, Twilight – couldn’t even finish reading that one. Don’t hate me.) The point is, there’s an audience out there for what you write, readers who will enjoy your voice and fall in love with your characters. That’s the group you want to focus on and aim to please in subsequent releases.
Be Your Own Self Critic
First please yourself. Most authors are humble, self-critics. The plus side to being your own critic (and not releasing your book(s) until you are satisfied with the outcome) is 1) you’ve already toughened up by meeting your own high standards and 2) you feel confidence in your work that cannot be undermined by naysayers.
That doesn't mean you’re immune to criticism or outright nastiness. The good news: The nastier a review is, the easier it is to dismiss. That’s why the brutally outlandish ones are my favorites. All I can think is, “Did I accidentally cut this person off in a past life?”
Duck and Cover
What about the audience witnessing Freddy Reviewer taking razor claws to your book? Have no fear that potential readers will run in the other direction.The only person who looks freaky is the one spouting off… most of the time.
There are cases (raise your hand – me!) when a mob of viewers grab their pitchforks and jump into comments to say that because of the rotten review they are passing on your title. (And may even throw in some disparaging – often misspelled – comments of their own even though they’ve never read a word of your book.) Just know that these people would most likely have been bad matches for your novel and probably had no intention of reading it in the first place. It’s better for both parties to find a better fit.
What You Don’t See Can’t Hurt You
If you are sensitive, and what writer isn’t, it might be a good idea to put your blinders on and avoid reading negative reviews of your book altogether.
I stopped reading Goodreads reviews of Entangled last spring because of ridiculous comments like this: “This cover is hideous. And the names Graylee and Charlene? Someone please kill me!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Sure, would you like me to pass you a knife?
The best way to avoid bad reviews in the first place is to carefully select your reviewers. Don’t just read their review policy, read over some of their past reviews to get a sense of what they like and don’t like (and how they handle the ones they don’t like).
I came across a reviewer policy once that consisted of one sentence: “I’ll let you know if I hate your book.”
Yin and Yang, That’s Life
Now that Entangled is on NetGalley I don’t control who reads and reviews my book. So far readers either love it or hate it and I’m fine with that. Here’s why:
With the bad comes the good.
When a reader falls in love with your book there is no greater reward. And that’s worth braving a few rotten tomatoes.
How do you handle a bad review? Do you risk the potential heartache of Goodreads? Let me know in the comments!