I recently heard of an author who got a less than stellar book review and went ham, cheese, and bologna on the reviewer (for my readers who may not know: to “go ham” is slang for acting a complete and utter fool). I won’t post any links (Mama ain’t raised no fool. I don’t want folks coming after me here on my precious blog, trolling me and what not) and I won’t name names but I will say this: nobody likes negative reviews. Everyone wants to believe that their book is so spectacular that it will end up on all the best sellers lists and that Hollywood will come a-knocking, begging to buy the movie rights.
But Linda. Honey, listen: not everyone is going to like your book. If you’re lucky, after you publish a book, you might get some reviews. Some will be good, some will be bad but keep this in mind: it is not a reviewer’s job to lift you up (that’s what your family is for). If someone has an opinion about your novel that is contrary to how you view your masterpiece, then guess what? That’s okay! It’s just an opinion. And if you can’t handle negative reviews don’t read them. Or, if you can’t stop yourself from reading them and then going out and attacking folk all willy-nilly, then chile, maybe you should stick to knitting cause ain’t nobody got time for that maybe this book publishing thing just ain’t for you.
And if you get the desire to respond to a negative review: don’t. What’s that you say? You’ve already written your scathing rebuttal letting the reviewer know how stupid they are and how they just don’t get your masterpiece because everyone, including your Grandma Fran, has been going on about how rad you are? And your hand is on the send button and it would be too much trouble to lift it? Hit delete. Immediately. Now back away from the computer and keep your hands where I can see them. Slowly. Slowly. Now that’s a good author.
*Update: the author somehow got ahold of the computer when my back was turned and hit “send” anyway. What resulted was a good ol’ fashioned Twitter dragging and slugfest on Goodreads between author and reviewer, and now the author’s reputation is ruined. People are reviewing their book negatively on purpose now to “teach them a lesson.” They are receiving one star reviews and people are putting their book on the “Not even if the author paid me a million dollars” shelf on Goodreads and also the “Not even if the Lord came down from heaven and demanded that I read this mess” shelf. The author has since moved to Bermuda and has adopted seven cats. She has quit writing and has taken up knitting.*
If you happen to get a less than stellar book review, here’s what you should do: nothing. “But Quanie!” you say, “What if people don’t buy my book based on some idiot one-starring it and saying how no one, not even Socrates, could decode that 70,000 word mess masquerading as a novel?”
Do nothing. Even if you have to sit on your hands: do nothing. Readers aren’t stupid. If your cover, blurb, and first few pages reel them in, they will more than likely still read your novel, despite the negative reviews. But whether or not other readers are going to like it and leave a stellar review…well, you’ll just have to see.
Bottom line: if you get a bad review it’s okay to feel bad about it, but for the love of God, please don’t respond publicly because word of a bad reputation travels fast in this industry and things on the internet live forever. Instead, focus on building your support system of writers but most importantly, honing your craft and writing your next book.
What about others? Do you respond to reviews? Have you seen instances of authors behaving badly online?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!