What To Do When You Get A Bad Review

It’s going to happen.

You don’t hunt your critic down and bash them over the head with a wine bottle, no matter how badly you’d like to do just that. You don’t have to like it. In fact, you can really, really be upset about it.

But then you need to back off, and look at it for what it is.

Was any of the criticism constructive? Can you learn anything from it? If they found a certain part of the book dull or a certain character unbelievable or a certain plot twist too predictable or outlandish – was there some merit in that? Be honest. Take notes. Look at whatever you’re working on now with fresh eyes. It’s all a learning process.

Look at the review in context with others, as well. Were they unable to pick up on a plot point that everyone else easily understood? Do they admit this “isn’t the kind of book” they normally read? Do they think something needs to be removed that is absolutely intrinsic to the story?

Then they’re obviously not paying attention, or have a previous bias, and you take that review with a huge shaker of salt.

Did they call you names? Denigrate not just this story, but all your work? Tell you to stop writing?

Then they’re a bully, or a troll. Write a story about them. Kill them off in a very painful and humiliating way. Use them as a character in your next book. Everyone loves to hate a hateful person. Have some fun and get your revenge on paper forever.

And then you move on.

Not everyone is going to like every story. Even my favorite authors have written things that I found to be less than what I knew them capable of. And those stories I shrugged and shook my head at have a rabid following somewhere. Go figure. That’s the beauty of being an author, and a reader. There are stories out there for all of us to write and to read. The universe is a vast and endlessly creative place.

Chin up. Pen down. Fingers on the keyboard.

You can do this.

Keep going. And cherish those good reviews, now that you appreciate them even more.

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