Monday 9 July 2012

What I think about bad reviews

Ooh look, a new review!!  Scroll down the Amazon page to the most recent reviews... and, oh no, it's one of those nasty little ones with hardly any yellow stars....

Yes, bad reviews are horrible, but they don't really matter all that much, unless you're getting more than about 7% bad ones - unless they ALL say that there are grammatical and punctuation errors, in which case you might have some work on your hands, but that's a different subject.  

Here are some of the things people say when they get them: 

  • "Huh!  Obviously someone with an axe to grind!"
  • "Well, why read it if it's not their usual type of book?"
  • "They just didn't understand it."
  • "Some people just want to knock something that everyone else says is good."
  • "I looked at their other reviews and they give bad reviews to everyone."
  • "I don't think they'd actually read it, or they wouldn't have said that!"
  • "Probably downloaded it when it was free, forgot it was a freebie, found it wasn't their usual genre, so felt annoyed that they'd paid money for it."
  • "I bet it's one of so-and-so's mates; she must have asked them all to write me bad reviews." 
  • "Must be a troll!"

Whatever.  I've said a couple of those myself, in the past; I bet you have, too.  I don't do so anymore, though.  I've faced up to reality. 

Mostly, if someone gives your book a bad review, it's because they didn't like it. End of.  Furthermore, they are entitled to express that opinion.  I've written another post about whether or not people should write bad reviews; that, too, is another subject - I'm just trying to help you deal with the ones you do get!

The odd bad review doesn't actually matter that much.  Forget about it.  Who says everyone has to love everything you do?  Are you really that insecure?  No, of course you're not!  

Consider this: you know how those 'Best Films of All Time' lists always feature Star Wars, somewhere near the top?  I went to see it when it was first released, and fell asleep within the first half hour.  I've tried watching the sequels a couple of times, and the same thing has happened.

If it had been a book, I'd have given it a one star review - because it bored me witless and I didn't enjoy it at all.  Okay, I may have given it 2 stars because it was well executed, but that's about it.

Most would disagree with me.  I was one of the 10%, or maybe 5% who didn't like it - and I'm sure whoever produced/directed/wrote the damn thing hasn't lost a moment's sleep over me, or all the people like me.

Remember that one man's meat is another man's poison, then vow never to use cliches like that in your next book!  My most widely read novel, You Wish, has been described as 'absolutely brilliant, clever and insightful', and also 'a complete load of rubbish' - and practically every variation in between!  

Oh, just one more thing.... when you're being very reasonable and mature about it all, try to really not mind, unlike the chap in the cartoon below.....!!


  1. You've brightened up my day with this one, Terry :) Yes! It's so true. If we are honest with ourselves, we've all hated something that others have loved - I'm such a non-crowd-follower I tend to hate some things just because everyone else loves it! It doesn't matter, and when I get my first bad review I'm going to come back here and read this. And then read it again. And again ...

  2. Ha ha! It's true, though. I don't know if you're going to do a free promotion at some point, but that's when your books really get 'out there' - and the reviews from complete strangers REALLY start to come in (I'm sure you have some of them already, I am not suggesting for a moment that all yours are written by friends or anything crap like that!) - it's frightening. I've only read the sample of your book on Amazon but I can see that you write very well, so perhaps you won't get any - I hope you don't. But yes, please do read this again, then - and again...!

  3. Hey Terry,
    I´ve yet to experience a bad review, but as a writer, know the gutting sensation when your work is criticized. I take criticism pretty well although it always gets my back up a little. Knowing that, I force myself to listen and learn and change my ways. I think that´s all we can do from criticism, but at the same time, we can´t change too much otherwise our very unique voices are lost. It´s a conundrum, I´m sad to say! All the best x

  4. Or just think, hey, you can't please everyone! I listen to constructive criticism, yes, but I write how I write. Not everyone will like it. C'est la vie! Thanks for commenting, Serena x

  5. I was one of the few, the proud, the brave who hated "The English Patient." good post, Terry!

  6. Great perspective! Like everything else in life, there are going to be those that don't like our writing or our clothes, hairstyle, personality - the difference is that they get to say so about our writing, where everyone can see it, including us. I generally shrug about all the other things, but have a bit of trouble doing so on a bad review. I think it will be easier now. Thanks.

  7. Ah, I'm glad if that helped give you a more postive viewpoint, Kathy! Thanks for commenting x

  8. Oh, and Gary - yes, how boring was The English Patient!!!

  9. I've learned to look the other way with bad reviews. People will either hate or love your book. It's just how the world works. :) Great post!

  10. Emerald, many thanks for reading this - as a follow on from your interview I read yesterday, I imagine! You're so right- exactly. I read someone (wish I could remember who!) saying, the other day, that he just doesn't click on to read any 1 or 2 star ones. Not sure I could do that, but it's a good idea!

  11. Hi Terry, Yea when I got my first 2 star review I was upset. But I checked out some books I really really enjoyed from famous authors and guess what. They also had a few bad reviews. So I guess that is that. Either someone likes your book or they don't. We can't please everyone and if we did it would be a boring world. Keep up the good work.
    Check out this blog I did:

  12. That's not a link, marie, but I shall check it out at some point soon, I promise! Thanks for reading it - it always amazes me when people 'throw their toys out of their pram' when they get a bad review - I always want to say, what, you think you're so marvellous that no-one will ever dislike what you write???!!!

  13. I am not writer so I am very cool about reviews - I NEVER read them. I am buying books by looking at cover, synopsis and sample of writing. And very important - typesetting! I will not touch book when I see sloppy set with not justified text!