View Full Version : Bad reviews

03-16-2007, 12:40 PM
Well, I got my first bad book review. The critic first says it would be a good read over spring break (the review was in the Texas A&M school paper), then goes on to pan it. Ah well, can't please everyone I suppose.

So how about the rest of you? How do you handle reviews, or do you even bother reading them?

03-16-2007, 02:54 PM
Well, I can't answer for anything published (yet!) but with my fanfic I make it a rule to carefully consider constructive, well thought-out criticism (i.e., "You started out well, but there's too much backstory going on here. You really don't need to explain this part." vs. "This story sucks and you're a moron!")

Like RJ said, though, you can't please everyone. And if everyone did all only like the same things, it would be pretty darn boring. (Although if that's the book in question in your sig, it looks interesting to me...)

Jennifer L
03-16-2007, 05:33 PM
Ouch. I remember my first bad review. I remember my first scathing review. They had a common feature of not taking the book on its merits -- that is, wanting it to be something it wasn't supposed to be. Akin to criticizing a romance for having a happy ending when "we know life doesn't work like that." Well, it does in romance.

I've had many more good reviews than bad but somehow it's the bad ones I remember :)

Over the years, I've stopped reading reviews. I don't find them particularly helpful, I can't change them, and even if the critic is right on all counts, I can't change the book either (at least not until it's time for the second edition). I do listen to constructive criticism from people I respect so I can keep getting better as a writer. A colleague once approached me to disagree vehemently about a premise in one of my books, but she was thoughtful, gracious and didn't insult me in any way. I came around to her way of thinking and we ended up writing a book together -- just came out a few weeks ago. That's the kind of criticism that makes a difference to a writer, you know?

But of course critics aren't writing for us, they're writing for readers. So it's best not to take it personally.

Jennifer Lawler

03-16-2007, 06:02 PM
I agree, the terrible review are generally by someone who thought the book was something else or clearly wasn't a reader in that genre. I think people who read the review get that too.

Azure Skye
03-16-2007, 07:17 PM
I'm not sure I'll ever want to read my reviews, good or bad, if it ever comes to that. Ignorance is bliss.

03-16-2007, 07:20 PM
How you handle it:


2) Who cares? You can only ever hope to please some of the people some of the time. Mostly, it's like the rejection process. You roll with the punches and keep going.

3) I wouldn't bother reading them.

4) But if you DO bother reading 'em, then treat them with gleeful stubbornness. Next time you sit down to write, go "Didn't like that, huh? Well just try not liking THIS genius!" and then write from there.

5) Do not make the reviewer a pedophile in your next book. Honest. Then you're an asshole and you only have Michael Crichton to talk to.


03-17-2007, 12:15 AM
Reviews don't exist for the author anyway--they're not feedback, and the reviewers don't owe anything to the authors. They're written for readers, and I'm not 100% convinced they have a big affect on readers. I know I tend to listen to friends who have similar tastes when considering a book, instead of seeking out the reviews. In fact, I'm not sure I have ever read a review when looking for a book.

I have a friend who seems to live and die by reviews. If anybody gives her a less than glowing review, it could put her into a serious funk for a day or more. She always hesitates to send me bad reviews of my work when seh finds them because she thinks she's sparing me from what is, to her, a very painful process.

The difference is that I take all reviews, good or bad, for what they're worth--which isn't much beyond a shrug.

03-17-2007, 12:22 AM
Do not make the reviewer a pedophile in your next book. Honest. Then you're an asshole and you only have Michael Crichton to talk to.


So then, I guess crack-whore is out too? :)

03-17-2007, 12:24 AM
Of course I'm jesting. The lady is more than entitled to her view and as I said, the book wasn't written to please everyone.

03-17-2007, 12:30 AM
I do sometimes find bad reviews to be useful feedback--but I agree that good reviews have very little to do with the author. I am annoyed more by fluff-squee-wuvved-it reviews than negative ones.

03-17-2007, 04:39 AM
I got mostly good review for TPB except the one I really wanted: Publishers Weekly. They didn't really give it a scathing review, but they totally missed the point of the story. And that one stung, because it was frigging PW.

Then I realized, hey, you know what, not everyone got reviewed in PW, and I got a spread. That must count for something. Not every first author from a small press get even a mention, and I got a full review! And how many people actually read PW reviews anyway. Not your normal readers. So I tried to let it go.

What became more important to me was how my actual readers reacted to the book. Their reviews were more important to me than some reviewers who only skimped through the book and wrote on first impression. And I must say 99% of my readers liked it, and that's good enough for me.

So in short, I try to have a good attitude about it, and that one review is not going to kill me or my career. And it didn't. I also had to remind myself that many great writers got bad reviews, too -- yes, even in PW. And I was in good company.

03-17-2007, 06:32 AM
You've been dominating SF at fictionwise for weeks now, I wouldn't worry about it.

03-17-2007, 05:56 PM
I remember the old rule. "A good review in the right place sells 100,000 copies. A bad review in the same place sells 90,000 copies."