Wednesday, April 18, 2012

5 Reasons Bad Book Reviews Can Be a Good Thing

Don't forget to vote for All Things Writing at Goodreads for the Blogger Award. Click on the link at the top left hand side of this page to vote!

Nobody likes rejection, especially authors. All you have to do is Google the words author or rejection and tons of blog posts on the subject will pop up. Heck, we even have a few back posts at All Things Writing that cover the art of rejection, too!

Unfortunately, even after you publish your book, the possibility of rejection doesn't end. The difference is that now you have to deal with reader rejection vs agent/publisher rejection. Readers are pretty good at letting an author know exactly how they feel about what they've read. They aren't always as polite as agents and publishers are either. In fact, some rejections make you long for the good old form letter you used to get that started with: We're sorry, but this manuscript just isn't for us.

Regardless, everything is a learning opportunity. Some readers just like to criticize, and some are honestly confused about things in the story. As an author, you have to learn to deal with these kinds of reviews and perhaps even grow as a writer from them. If you've just published something and have gotten a bad review, consider these five tips to help you get over it!

1. Maybe the reader doesn't normally read your genre. Hey, it happens. Some readers try out new genres because the book is part of the latest trend. That doesn't mean it's going to be their cup of tea. Some styles just don't work for everyone. For example, I like mysteries but not hard core ones. I'd rather read a Janet Evanovich than Sue Grafton book any day, but that's because I prefer one style over the other.

2. Your book cover is misleading. This one comes from personal experience for me! If your book cover hints at one genre, but then turns out to be another, sometimes that makes for confused or even angry readers. Nephilim looks like a bodice ripper, but is actually an urban fantasy with little romance. I recently had a reviewer call it porn for grannies because nothing sexual really happens in it. I can see the reviewer's point. If romance is your thing and you buy my book based on the steamy cover, you will be disappointed. The moral of this story: always make sure your book cover represents your book!

3. The reviewer just read a similar book with a similar concept. You can't predict what is going on in that reader's life. If they just read a book like yours, the comparison is bound to be in their mind. If they preferred the other book, look at the reasons they've listed as to why. Maybe there is something of value you can take from that, something that can strengthen your next manuscript!

4. A bad review can put you in your place. We all get a little full of ourselves and no one writer is perfect.( Except for Harper Lee, which is why I think she only wrote one book. Hey, when you get it right, you get it right!) Criticism hurts but it can make you face reality, too.

5. Reading tough reviews make you appreciate the good ones. Someone took the time to read your work. Maybe they even paid for it (gasp!). For everyone person who hates your writing, there's a few more that love it. Remember that!

You can't please them all and some people just enjoy being rude. However, don't brush off a bad review of your book just because it's negative. Try to turn it into something positive that you can learn from!

Happy Writing!

Oh, by the way, my new YA comes out in June. However, you can register to get an advance copy at my Goodreads Giveaway. Here's the link! Bayou Myth Giveaway


  1. Some good things to remember! Thanks for the well written post.