Dealing with Negative Reviews: Advice for New E-book Authors

You’ve launched your e-book on an online publishing platform, sold a few copies, and received some positive feedback. You’re beginning to allow yourself to believe you’re a good writer until one day you check your listing to discover someone hated your work so much they left you a one-star review. It hurts, but if you aspire to be a successful author, you must be resilient. Here’s what to do to stay positive.

  1. Don’t wallow.

Resolve to learn from this uncomfortable event and move on. After all, negative reviews usually aren’t about you personally, and they’re not necessarily about your writing ability either. Negative reviews are a fact of writing life; see them as opportunities to grow a thicker skin.

  1. See negative reviews in context.

Don’t fixate on negative reviews while ignoring positive ones. Give yourself a break, re-read those great reviews, and savor their words of praise.

  1. Analyze why your some of your reviewers hate your e-book.

Obviously you can’t please everybody. Some readers will object to your characters, your writing style, your e-book’s format, or even your choice of font. Others will buy your book without reading the blurb and then turn on you for failing to please. In this case, you have to accept that you’ve simply failed to engage readers who were never in your target audience anyway. Of course, if there’s a serious problem with your e-book’s format then fix it. But whether to change your writing style or genre to widen your appeal is another matter.

  1. Use your one-star reviews to become a better writer.

If your reviewers take time to provide more than a line or two of misspelled nonsense, dispassionately read what they have written. Do they make valid points? Are there too many typos, should you improve your grammar and punctuation, or is your plot too flimsy or too convoluted? Be honest with yourself, especially if you have several negative reviews highlighting the same issue.

  1. Don’t worry too much about sales.

Many potential buyers take little or no notice of one- or two-star reviews, particularly if they’re semi-literate rants, or they criticize the price or delivery experience rather than content. This also applies to glowing five-star reviews that could be from your friends and family. It’s often the meaty, balanced three- and four-star reviews that clinch a sale. However, some readers buy an e-book on the basis of its negative reviews. What some readers hate, others love.

  1. There’s no need to respond to negative reviews.

If you want to respond to readers who’ve left reasoned negative reviews, thank them and leave it at that; however, most authors don’t respond to negative reviews at all. You certainly shouldn’t waste time and emotion on those who launch one-star attacks on almost every e-book they read.

  1. Continue to read your reviews – the benefits could outweigh the drawbacks.

Some writers advise never to read reviews. Not reading them protects you from negative feedback, but it also hides away the positive. If you do decide to read your reviews, take a look at them every month or so, not every hour.

  1. Read the negative online reviews of great classics.

Classics such as Moby Dick, The Lord of the Rings, Madame Bovary, and To Kill a Mockingbird have had their share of one- and two-star reviews, which goes to show that no author, however exalted, is able to please everybody. Readers have different tastes and expectations.

Negative reviews can knock your confidence, but if you’re determined to succeed in your writing career, you must be philosophical about them. Don’t feel sorry for yourself; consider the above points, and above all, stick to your writing routine. Let your work be the remedy for your pain.

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