Bad Book Reviews (FWE DRBR)

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on October 27, 2012 0 Comments

Receiving a bad review on a book you put your heart and soul into is rough.  Having a thick skin is a must, though, because even the best and brightest get their share of bad reviews. 

In my case, my best selling books receive some of the most vicious reviews and some of my worst sellers have a perfect five-star rating.  There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the process.  I think to myself, “If my book is so bad, why is it selling so well?”  Or vice versa. 

I recently received a one-star review from someone who is basically illiterate and didn’t bother to read the product description or the free sample before making her purchase.  If you want a good chuckle, you can read her review here. 

You may wonder what impact reviews have on sales.  I’m not sure.  For my books, the sales results are all over the place. 

I can only speak for myself when I say reviews have little impact on my buying decisions.  I figure another’s opinion is just his/her opinion.  I prefer to form my own opinion.  I read the product description and the free sample.  The only time I take a review seriously is when the reviewer is incredibly thoughtful, lucid, fair and balanced.  He/she has far more to say than just “This book sucks!” or “This book is great!”  Even then, I’m aware it’s just his/her opinion. 

I also have a morbid curiosity.  When a book has a one-star rating, I have to find out why.  What is it about the book that pisses off the critics?  Some of my favorite books and films are the ones the critics hate. 

One thing I do like about consumers is this: If they really want to read your book, they will–no matter what other people say–even if their mothers warn them not to–especially if their mothers warn them not to! 

Think about it.  Where would rock, rap, and hip hop be if these genres had to rely on music critics?  The critics don’t stop screaming fans from buying.  Hopefully the same is true for books, especially your books and mine.  

Perhaps the most pernicious reviews are the ones that are bought and paid for.  Recently, a scandal has been brought to light.  There are publishers and indies who actually pay people to up-rate their books and down-rate their competition!  This kind of practice is so sick!  It makes all reviews suspect–but that might be good news if consumers actually start thinking for themselves or rely on the opinion of a trusted friend.  I mean, let’s face it, even without the scandal, most reviews on the web are written by people you don’t know.  For all you know, they could have an agenda.  They could be authors reviewing each other (you rate my book five stars and I’ll rate yours the same).  They could be friends or relatives of the author, or enemies.  Or they could be teens who have too much time on their hands and are doing the virtual equivalent of throwing eggs at someone’s house. 

As a consumer, and for the forgoing reasons, I think, as a general rule, it’s foolhardy to take reviews seriously.  As an author, I’ll try to learn from well-written critical reviews and I won’t let malicious reviews discourage me.  If I ever quit writing, it’s going to be on my terms, not someone else’s.   


 For today’s prompt, I want to talk about how we as authors deal with rejection and bad reviews, in all stages of the writing process.


You have until Thursday, November 1, 2012 at midnight to write and post, and it can be in any format.

I will read, comment on, and feature your responses a week from today.

* Have your title say FWE or Friday Writing Essential, and have the initials “DRBR” (Dealing with Rejection/Bad Reviews) in it.

* Make sure to post to the Writing Essential Group.

* Put FWE or Friday Writing Essentials and the initials “DRBR” in your tags. (I won’t find your post without these tags.)

Have a great week!


About the Author ()

Freelance artist and writer. I like to exercise and eat healthy foods. I love reading your posts here on gather along with looking at your photos, art and videos.

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