How to Avoid the Rejection Blues: A Bad Review Can Be A Good Thing
By Christine Locke
In a recent author interview, I was asked what I think of receiving a bad review. I did not write the first thing that came to mind. That would have been, “I hate it! Want to throw my laptop at the wall, cry into my coffee, and throw a tantrum, hate it!” No, that’s not what I wrote. Instead, I responded with the first rational thing that came to mind.
A bad review now and then is good for me, I said. And, if you are a writer, it’s good for you, too. Why?
First, and we all know this, bad reviews keep you humble. Sure, they sting. I’ve seen bestselling authors post links to their bad reviews as they ponder what was said in them and lick the resulting wounds. But, if you’re willing…
Bad reviews teach you, which is my second point. No writer learns anything from relatives telling her, “Your book is awesome!” Not that you need to respond or change your writing to suit those who don’t like it and maybe never will, but there are times when a reviewer has a point. In those moments, if we are willing, we can take what we read and use it to make our next book a better one.
And, finally, here’s what I wrote in my brief answer to the interviewer’s question: an occasional bad review gives my good reviews credibility. If you only have five-star reviews, potential readers must wonder if your readers are all family members. Or, worse, they’ll think you paid for your reviews. Reviews matter, and readers are savvy about them. They can tell if it seems like the person writing did not really read your book.
Controversy–disagreement over quality or subject matter– shows true engagement. Someone cared enough to come back and say your book was a five star read? Great! Even better if someone else was passionate enough to come back and give it two. Controversy might inspire other reviewers to get in on the action with their own two cents. See? With no controversy and all favorable reviews, maybe the book really is great, but there have not been enough readers to spark a true discussion.
That’s the most important take-away: we don’t just love reading stories. We love discussing stories. In a room full of five-star reviewers, the two-star review is what gets the conversation going. Otherwise, no one has anything to say about your book. Discussions—even arguments—are “buzz.” And that’s why an occasional bad review is a good—even necessary—thing.
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Genre – Young Adult
Rating – PG/PG13