It isn’t easy for an author to push their work out for review. For many of us, there is a certain introvertism at work that make self-promotion of any kind hard. For others, there is a certain instinctual self-protectiveness at play. We don’t want others to pick over the work that we’ve invested so much of ourselves into.
And yet, reviews are one of the best ways to garner input, opinion, and critical insights about our works. Without the insights reviews grant us, it becomes that much harder to improve in the future, not to mention the promotional value of a wide amount of reviews. People simply find it easier to buy in on something that others have done so as opposed to a fully untested item.
What about bad reviews though? Those hurt you, don’t they? What should you do about them?
Certainly, you might have an instinctive desire to be defensive, to counterargue the reviewer’s opinion, or to try to have the review removed for whatever reason from the site it’s posted on. This is, after all, your pride and joy we’re talking about. Surely these sorts of defensive measures are par for the course!
No, actually, they aren’t. In fact, they are some of the worst things you as an author can do. The fact is that there is great value in not-so-positive reviews. I mean, it’s the height of arrogance to think that your book is the best thing to all people. There are as many opinions as there are human beings, so a negative review here and there is going to happen. The best thing to do with said reviews is to use the information they provide to help guide your course in future works.
Maybe the critiques can show you how to broaden your audience appeal. Maybe they point out vital issues in your writing style or the plot of the book, things you can fix in future works or in future editions of that same work. Maybe the review provides insight on what groups may not like your book at all, allowing you to better focus your marketing and promotional efforts.
Yes, there are the rare troll reviews, but these are things everyone on the internet has to deal with. It rarely works to have such reviews squelched, if it’s possible at all to do so. It is best to simply raise your chin and wade through such reviews, acting in a purely professional manner about it.
Professionalism is actually the perfect watchword to go along with the general review etiquette. Act like the professional writer you are and everything will work out fine. This also extends to those reviews you solicit. Remember that reviews of this sort are meant to be honest, so if they don’t wind up as you wish, approach them with the same politeness as other reviews. A book blogger will think of you in a much brighter light if you accept a bad review with grace and aplomb than with a cold shoulder or out-right hostility.
So, the real story is simple: Treat all reviews as the tools to improvement that they are and ensure you work in a professional fashion. The respect you will foster acting in such a way and the knowledge reviews, good or bad, provide will make you into a better author in every way.
Until next time, good reading, good writing, and good luck!