Last week, I wrote about the importance of getting book reviews for your novel. One thing you have to be prepared for is the dreaded negative review. Every author at one time or another will get a less than stellar review. However, you get to choose how to handle it.
1.) You could ignore it and chalk it up to someone just not liking your novel because face it – not everyone likes the same things. Most readers understand that no book pleases everyone and that any book reviewed often enough will occasionally get a bad review. Actually, multiple glowing reviews often are dismissed by readers as reviews by family and friends. Negative reviews are taken more seriously because readers usually believe they represent an honest review from a disappointed reader.
2.) Remember that a negative review may actually make your book sell. A negative review might pique the interest of someone. I know several romance writers who say that they sometimes see an increase in sales if someone complains about the graphic nature of their novel. While descriptive sex scenes may turn off one reader who swears it is porn, it may cause another reader to read it just to see if the reviewer is correct in their assessment.
3.) This one deals more with a professional book review rather than one that you got off of Amazon or Goodreads. You can turn the negative review into a positive because most reviewers will still list some good points. You can always use those positive words in part of your marketing. (The film industry does this quite a bit.)
The one thing I would caution is not to respond to the negative reviewer, unless they have stated something that is just not true and that untrue statement could hurt your book sales. An example would be for the reviewer to call your book erotica when it clearly is a wholesome Christian book with nothing more risqué than a simple kiss on the lips.
As tempting as it is to fire off a scathing rebuttal, your best bet if you want to respond at all is to say, “Thank you for taking the time to read and review my work.” And then move on. Your response – or better your lack of response – can certainly affect how well your book sells, perhaps better than a mediocre review. When you take the time to tell someone that their opinion is wrong, you risk not only the loss of that reader but the other readers who hear about your tirade. It also can affect future book sales because now you have a reviewer who may be just waiting for your next novel to bash you some more.
If there is anything you should take from a negative review is that your book provoked somebody enough to write about your book. Remember some of the greatest authors have had their works torn to shreds. So don’t fear the negative review. Either let it go or find a way to use it to your benefit because as they say any publicity is better than no publicity.