Writing Haikus for Fun

A Quick Update

What To Do When You Get a Bad Review

  • March 13, 2016
  • Blog


Do you think you’ll never get a bad review? Think again. Better yet, be prepared. If you don’t have a thick skin when your book goes public, develop one. Buy one, if there’s a store in the universe that will deliver. But have it in place and use it.

Here is the number one rule (the only rule, actually) for responding to a bad review:


Really. Please, please, please don’t. Call your friends and vent, stay away from your computer completely, eat a pound of chocolate, do anything else—but don’t respond.


You will never win.

It’s hard to put so much love and effort into your baby, the book you slaved over, missed dinners and sleep for, to hear it get unjustifiably criticized. It was unjustified, right?

You might want to say, “I have reasons, I’d like to explain, give me a chance to change your mind!”

Once again, don’t.

An author whose work I enjoyed began replying to comments that upset her. I cringed at how cheerily she answered as she tried to explain why the plot the reader complained about was fine, just fine, thank you very much.

She negated her reader’s point of view and came off as a little desperate. (And for the record, I agreed with the reader’s comments.)

By the way, I’m not talking about reviews posted by trolls. They should always be ignored. I’m talking about reviews that are thoughtful and upset, from readers who were disappointed. Sometimes they just need to vent without giving details (“Boy, did that suck!”) but others will give detailed reasons why they’re trashing the story—and those are the ones to be grateful for.


Because everyone is different. I’ve read bad reviews that discussed issues that didn’t bother me—so I bought the book. A bad review can actually get you more readers.

That doesn’t take away the stone you feel in the pit of your stomach or the embarrassment from worrying that people you know will see that review. Shrug it off. Keep writing. Consider that the reader may have had a good point—or not.

The best thing to do when reading a bad review is to tack three words at the end of it in your mind:

In their opinion.

It was bad in their opinion. The character was wooden in their opinion. They shouldn’t have let the hero go off with the other woman. In their opinion. (It’s the same game people play with fortune cookies, tacking on the words “in bed” at the end of every fortune.)

It’s a good tool. It reminds us that everyone is entitled to their opinion even if we disagree.

Now get back to writing. You have work waiting.

  • Aaron Hamilton • March 16, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    Advice I will take to heart!

    • J. M. Levinton • March 16, 2016 at 10:46 pm


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