Sure, the phrase is cliché, but that doesn't make it untrue. Everyone really is a critic. About everything, no less.
Now, don't get me wrong, sometimes criticism is a good thing. A necessary thing, whether you agree with it or not, but let's face it, sometimes people are just jerks about it. I promise, there's always, ALWAYS, a nice way to critique someone.
Okay, so this blog post is mainly about what to do with bad reviews, however it can be applied to anything, really. Now, I'm no expert, and my thoughts on this may change over time. I am a newbie writer after all, and yes, I still read all of my reviews, so feel free to take my 'advice' with a grain of salt. We all start somewhere, right?
First off, to the author. Expect bad reviews. Heck, expect bad reviews from jerky people. They're going to happen, and there's nothing we can do to stop them. Think of it as your arrival in the wide, wonderful world of writing and putting yourself out there for all to see. Remember, most people will never do that, including those who leave the non-helpful, nasty reviews. It's easier to critique someone when you hide behind a computer. Still, wear it as a badge of honor that you've arrived and can play with the big boys now! Everyone is a critic.
Sometimes, you'll get a bad review that is actually helpful! They're not rude and are genuine in their review. Learn to tell the difference between the constructive criticism reviews and the jerky ones. Because sometimes, the constructive ones have a point. Yeah, it still sings a bit, but isn't that what we're really looking for? Ways to improve in our craft? Personally, I don't want to become so jaded in my writing to believe that the average reader has no good advice for me. Everyone comes to a book bringing with it their own thoughts and experiences, and therefore, they'll read the book differently. See things differently. And that's okay. Writing is subjective, and everyone's a critic.
As for the nasty, borderline bullying reviews, please remember these are NOT HELPFUL to you! They are simply a person who is on a power trip and will most likely never, ever put themselves in a position to be critiqued by others and improve themselves. Most people will see this type of review for what it is: rude. It's funny, those who dish it the most are usually the ones who can't take it themselves. Everyone's a critic.
*STANDS ON SOAP BOX*
I have to add this. Bullying in reviews is not cool. EVER! Please, I beg you, if you receive a review that is of the personal, bullying nature, or you see one on another book's page, please, please, please report it. These are awful, unnecessary, and very hurtful. An opinion is fine; bullying is not. The person who does this is not a critic, they are a bully, and it's time to call them on it.
*STEPS OFF SOAP BOX*
Now, a quick note to reviewers. Personally, I won't rate or review a book if I can't give it at least 3 stars, but that's just me. I don't expect everyone to do this. In fact, it would be unfair if everyone does this. It's okay to leave a bad review. Really, it is. Reviews are a service to other readers. However, please remember there is a nice way to leave a bad review. Be that person. Be the constructive criticism person that authors want, love, and need. "This book was garbage" is not helpful. Most books have far more 4 and 5 star reviews than 1 and 2's. Remember that. The majority of people who read the book you didn't like, liked it. You are probably in the minority. Again, that's fine because writing is subjective. But you need to remember that your review is simply your own personal opinion. You are not the god of grammar, editing, storylines, or books. That author put their heart and soul into that book, then swallowed back the fear to put it out there for the world to see, and that deserves some respect. I realize everyone's a critic, but be a constructive critic.
As a receiver of a bad review, how should you handle it? My advice, read it twice and fit it into a category of bad reviews: Constructive (helpful), Jerky, or Bullying. If it's bullying, report it. If it's constructive, learn from it. If it's jerky, well, those are the worst. It's easy to say ignore it, but we all know that's not really possible, so here's my advice. Cry. Call a friend. Write a response (but don't post it). Have a glass of wine. Go out for dinner. Avoid social media. Binge on a half-gallon of ice cream. Talk with other writer friends. Read the bad reviews of books you love by well-known authors. Then go to bed, and in the morning get up and go about your day as usual. Work on your work-in-progress. The best way to show them they're wrong is to keep going and putting out more books that people will love. Now, I can't tell you that jerky review won't slither its way back into your mind, but I can tell you it gets better over time. Easier.
You'll get far more positive reviews than negative. Dwell on those.
Because everyone's a critic. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.
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