Embracing the Negative Review


Guest Blogger:  Susan Barton

Okay, so maybe embracing is going a little too far. Perhaps becoming friends with your first negative book review is more appropriate. After all, a good friend will tell you things you might not necessarily want to hear if it’s meant to help you, right? Authors who look at a less than glowing review as a well-meaning friend might have an easier time accepting them.

Love Me, Love My Baby…Please

Trust me… I do understand your angst. It’s hard enough to get someone to read our books, let alone leave a review. Your book is your baby. You’ve spent months nurturing it and when you’re finally ready to send it off into the world you expect everyone else to love your baby just as much as you do. Chances are you think your baby is the cutest, most clever baby ever to be written. Realistically, not everyone will look at it the same way. And, yes, it hurts when people criticize our cute and clever baby. But taking criticism for what it is – a chance to learn more about your writing – could help ease the pain.

The Credibility Factor

One or two negative reviews actually lends credibility to all of your (hopefully, many) positive reviews. It’s unfortunate, but many consumers are becoming suspicious of glowing reviews. Let’s face it, it’s far too easy to buy positive reviews. And, until Amazon makes another sweep to delete those fake reviews they’ll continue to muddy the waters for everyone. A couple of negative reviews keeps it real for readers.

All Publicity is Good Publicity

With everyone and his mailman publishing a book nowadays it’s difficult to grab the attention of readers. How are potential readers going to find your book in the vast Indie Book Sea? Well, even negative reviews can boost your sales. Why? Because it puts your book out there where potential readers can actually see it and judge it for themselves. I’m not making this up. A University of Pennsylvania study found that when it came to books written by newbie authors, negative reviews “caused sales to rise by an average of 45%.” They went on to say that even extreme criticism had the potential of increasing sales…sometimes even quadrupling them.  

An Opportunity for Self-Improvement

If you’re getting more than your fair share of negative reviews and they all seem to be saying the same thing then it’s probably time to take heed. I’ve reviewed books where I had no choice but to leave a poor review. Too many typos, flat characters, cheesy dialogue, etc. will all earn you less than five stars. Read your reviews objectively and use them to improve your writing. One or two troll reviews can be ignored, but if most of your negative reviews are similar then a re-edit might be in order. There’s no shame in this.

I’d like to say one final thing about negative reviews. DO NOT RESPOND TO THEM. EVER. As much as you’d love to defend your baby it is always a bad idea to do so. You’ll look like a jerk no matter what you do or say, so just suck it up and move on.


About the Writer 

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Susan Barton is an author, writer, reviewer and book marketer. She provides Indies with affordable book marketing services on her websites eBook Review Gal and My Book Tour. You can connect with Susan on Twitter, Facebook and follow her reviews on Amazon.