In Case of Bad Reviews, Break Glass

Most of our clients here at Clockpunk Studios are authors, editors, or publishers. Heck, all of us are authors ourselves! Which means that we know first hand how tough it can be to receive a dreaded one-star review on Amazon or Goodreads. Fortunately, a bad review doesn’t have to spoil your day, and it certainly doesn’t mean the end of the world for your book, even though it may feel like it. So here are a few tips from us to help you deal with bad reviews when they happen…

They say that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but that is hard to keep in mind when a one-star review shows up on Amazon lambasting your book, especially if it pulls down your average score. But it’s true, at least to an extent. More reviews–even bad ones–mean that more people are reading and talking about your book, and the more reviews that your book gets on Amazon or Goodreads, the more likely it is to be displayed on lists and other places where new readers can find it.

Plus, take it from us, there are plenty of people out there who pick up books based on the bad reviews that they get. Sometimes its out of a sort of Mystery Science Theater 3000 spirit, but more often a reviewer may blast some aspect of your book that they hated, but that is exactly what some other reader has been looking for!

Maybe the most important thing to remember about a bad review is not to let it get you down. These days, we have greater access than ever to seeing what people think of our writing, which can be both a blessing and a curse. If enough people read your book, some of them are bound to not like it, and for many writers a one-star review is a sign that they have “arrived.” But stumbling across one of those one-star reviews, especially a particularly vicious one, can really wreck your day.

If that happens, take a walk, grab a snack, go read back over some of your more glowing reviews, or just get away from the computer for a while. Sometimes you can use a negative review as a motivator, an “I’ll show them!” kind of kick in the pants to remind you of why you’re writing in the first place and help you to dive right back in. Whatever you do, though, don’t respond! Responding to a negative review is always a bad idea. If the reviewer is a troll, you’ll just be throwing gasoline on the fire. And even if they’re not, responding to a negative review is unlikely to do anything but put you in a bad light.

Sometimes, negative reviews even contain actual constructive criticism that can help you improve as a writer. Other times, though, you just need to take a deep breath, stick a couple of pins in your writing voodoo doll (you all have one of those, right?), and then just let it go.

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