Handling Reviews

Getting reviews is tough when you don’t have thousands of dollars to throw into advertising or a big publisher on your book or multiple big name authors telling their audience how amazing your book is. 

And then, by some miracle, you get a few reviews. It’s great. Strangers on the internet are telling you how much they enjoyed your book, the book you spent possibly hundreds of hours on, stayed up late working on, dreamed about – and readers are enjoying it. It is an elation like no other. It makes it feel like a worthy endeavor. It makes you feel like you could really do this author thing. 

And then. 

You get a review and a 3-star rating. The review points out things he or she didn’t like. They point out how it feels like the narrative shifts halfway through, and how it lost them. They also point out that they enjoyed the book and the characters were super likeable, but your brain doesn’t linger on those words. No, it snatches up the things the reviewer didn’t like and holds them against your soul like sandpaper, triggering that bone-deep sense of worthlessness and stomach turning nausea. 

This is all a true story. One person has single-handedly, within the span of a hundred words, crushed my spirit. (It wasn’t even a bad review. It was a good review.)

This is why I do not read reviews on my books. THIS. 

This is why other authors and professionals repeated over and over not to look at the reviews. 

One reviewer had the power to make me feel like I should give up writing. I’ve been in a slump since this morning when I read it. 

One 3-star review, and suddenly the 20 5-star reviews cease to exist. All I can focus on is that one person that didn’t quite like it. 

It’s taken me several hours to get over it. I have given myself several internal pep talks, including all the books that I gave 3-stars because I didn’t quite like them. I also reminded myself that other people gave it 5-stars. I have received more positive feedback than negative. 

Then WHY do I feel so distraught? 

 I don’t have an answer beyond that it confirms my fears that I’m not really a good storyteller and I won’t be able to turn this author thing into anything more than a side hustle. 

It’s dumb. I’m aware. I can’t help it. 

As an author, one of the first pieces of advice I received was to have a thick skin. Don’t let bad reviews bother you. Take it in stride. Look between the lines and see why the reader didn’t like it. Sometimes it’s for stupid reasons, like the gender of the main character or the name of the love interest. Maybe the book just didn’t hit the right notes. That’s okay. We have different tastes.

However, I’m closing this with two pieces of advice: 1) grow a thick skin. There will be readers that don’t like your book. Just like there are books you don’t like. 2) Don’t look at the reviews. 

2 thoughts on “Handling Reviews

  1. Every word you articulated is so true. In a perfect world everyone will love your books, but then reality is a kicker. Keep the faith in your art, the world is full of armchair experts, but you’re the one who has the guts to put it out there.


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