- Books, Literature, and Writing»
- Commercial & Creative Writing
How to Deal with Bad Reviews
We've all experienced this at least once in our writing career. Either it's a review from a very dissatisfied reader, who purchased your book on Amazon or it is an extremely rude, anonymous reviewer on fanfiction.net, or someone else. It doesn't matter, it still stings sometimes when someone tells you that what you've written isn't good. But we all have different ways of reacting to bad reviews. Some take it very hard and lock themselves in their room and cry while others dismiss he reviewer's opinion without a second thought. And just like there are different reactions there are different kinds of bad reviews as well.
The Rude and Purely Hateful Review
Some reviews contain nothing but insults, which are usually badly worded and written for the sole purpose of telling the author that what they'd written was so bad that they couldn't even find anything good to say about it. These reviews may only contain hateful comments about how bad the story was but some stoop so low that they directly insult the author as a person.
If you get one of these reviews don't take them too seriously. If the reviewer couldn't even tell you why they thought the story was so bad or what you could have done to make it better there really is no point in dwelling on it. It won't help you in any way.
The Short and Uninformative Review
It contains a single sentence. It is very vague and useless.
If you get a review that simply says "you suck" or "your story sucks" don't let that get you down. So someone clearly didn't like the story but so what? Not everyone is going to like what you write, we all have different tastes so what may be amazing in the eyes of some might be horrible to others, you can't please everyone. This kind of review really doesn't deserve much attention from you because it really didn't tell you anything. It didn't tell you what was wrong with your writing or how it could have been better so you have no way of knowing if they are right or not. So if you get one of these just forget about it.
The Review Filled with Constructive Criticism
This review contains examples of what the reviewer disliked in the story as well as a description of how bad the reviewer thought the story was. It may also contain advice about how to improve and maybe fix a few mistakes. It may or may not be politely written.
If you get a review like this then cherish it. Yes, it is not the review you wanted but it could have been worse and instead of simply insulting your writing this reviewer actually gave you some helpful advice on how to improve, allowing you to fix your work and get better reviews in the future. Now of course depending on which errors the reviewer has pointed out he or she may or may not be right but it just might make you a better writer.
How to Deal with Bad Reviews
I'm not saying you aren't allowed to feel down after getting a bad review. Being told our writing isn't as good as you thought it was is never fun. You may seek comfort with your friends, family or other people you trust and some of them might tell you to ignore the bad reviewers and some will even dismiss them as simply being jealous or just hateful to make you feel better.
But here's the harsh truth that you need to accept, for your own good.
They could be right. Maybe it's not just the reviewer having a bad day and taking their anger out on you and your work, maybe you actually wrote a bad story. And some might be really rude about it and make fun of you while others genuinely want to help you. You can't get better if you don't know that you need to get better in the first place and you certainly won't get better if you don't know what you have to do to make it better. They're not trying to be mean, they're trying to be helpful.
Maybe it's your grammar or spelling that needs work or your dialogue, your descriptions or you have created plot-holes or mixed up the tenses or something completely different. Practice makes perfect and maybe you still have to practice some more before your work is truly publishable. Whatever it is just be grateful that someone pointed out your mistakes and gave you a chance to fix them.
We all have to start somewhere and we have all started out as awful writers. Now, I am in no way saying anyone reading this is an awful writer but if you look back at how you used to write and how you're writing now you'll understand. And in a few years what we're writing now might seem awful as well. Be grateful for the advice of more experienced writers/readers and evolve. Even the greatest writers in history have received bad reviews. We can't afford to get upset every time someone gives us a review that isn´t pure praise. We want people to be honest so we can know how good we are, we aren't looking for lies and mindless praise. The phrase 'shut up if you can't say something nice' does not apply here, only the truth matters.