Hello Al Bargen here. Negative reviews can come in the form of ego-depleting comments or bloodcurdling criticisms. Whatever form they manifest in, they often leave literary scars that won’t heal.
A rare few choose to ignore them altogether but most writers feels it when scathing reviews come in droves. Most of us respond emotionally.
But it doesn’t have to get to the point where you engage the reviewer in a heated argument. Learn how to distinguish one type of negative review from another and I think you’ll be able to cope better. At least that’s what happened to me.
Here are the four types:
- Constructive Criticisms. These are the comments and feedback that every writer should be thankful for. They are the ones that call out the weak points, flag the errors, and point out plot holes. They are usually written diplomatically, which is an indication that the comments are not meant to disparage the writer. If anything, they are there to help improve the reader’s ability to choose what to read as well as help the writer to improve their craft. Unfortunately, this type of criticism is a rarity.
- Destructive Criticisms. These are the scathing comments that may or may not have merit. They are basically hurled at the author with the intent of insulting. The feedback only points out the bad things. What makes it worse is that the reviewer is almost always harsh and rude. If you can get past the crass language, you can perhaps take the criticism in stride.
- No Details. Some reviewers post 1-star ratings in Amazon and Goodreads but do not even discuss the shortcomings of the book in detail. The most you’ll get is “I didn’t like it” or “I couldn’t finish it”. Most likely these readers aren’t even your target audience as they can’t even finish the book. That, or your book is really awful. But without details, there’s really no way of knowing.
- Troll Reviews. These are ‘reviews’ from people who just want to bully or harass the author. The comments usually do not relate to the book, which is a clear indication that the person has not read the book. The intention is to just significantly lower the average rating. They should be ignored. Take comfort in the fact that legit readers can smell a troll a mile away.
There’s no question that negative reviews can bring you down. Learn to recognize that the only reviews that matter are those that will help you become a better writer. Keep swinging and you’ll improve your craft, but beware that negative reviews come with the trade. Even the best-selling books have 1-star reviews.
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