Cyndy Aleo

Four Little Bees Writing & Editing

author, freelance writing, editing, and a little bit of web development, helping clients with content development, book editing, and blog set-up and customization

Self-publishing and the negative review

I've actually been meaning to write this post for a while now (and been too busy to do it), but something really funny happened to me that spurred me to finish the post: 

I got a revenge rating.

Now, admittedly, I probably have a thicker skin than a lot of people do. I'm actually a person who enjoys negative reviews, for a few reasons. Here's why I think you should, too.

There are generally a number of reasons someone will give you a negative review for your book:

1. The reviewer really did find a problem with your book.

No author is perfect. No one. EVERYONE can improve. I BEG my beta readers to rip my novel apart, because that's the only way to get better at writing. Some of you may have noticed I acknowledged an agent in UNDYING; that's because that agent ripped the book to shreds. Sure, I cried my head off when I first read it (I AM human), but in the long run, that was someone who was really invested in my book, and felt really strongly about it. That kind of criticism is hard to come by when everyone is afraid of hurting everyone's feelings (or getting revenge ratings later).

2. The reviewer wasn't the right audience.

It happens. You can't write a book that will please everyone. It's impossible, and even if it were possible, would you really want to write that book? It would probably be boring as hell. There will be people who won't understand the point you were trying to make, or who'll want you to have written a different book with the "same basic idea." You can't change that, unless you really wanted to write a different book. 

These you can look at, and toss some, keep others. Does the review suggest something that might have made sense? Keep that in mind for the next book. Does it seems completely contrary to what you were trying to get across? Ignore it. Move on. This reader is probably never going to like what you write.

3. The reviewer hates you.

I'm not going to lie; this kind of review absolutely delights me. This is what I look like when I get one:

Seriously. That's what I sound like. And probably look like. Come to think of it, I need a cape.

These people are hating your stuff irrationally. In my case today, it's because I gave this author a negative review... two years ago. 

I'm not the only person who's given this book a 1-star review. Over 100 other people have as well. But for two years, this author has been thinking about this review. To the point where the author tracked down my book to give it a 1-star rating.

(I'd like to point out that at least I bought and read the author's book. I'm pretty sure the same wasn't done in reverse).

Can you imagine spending TWO YEARS obsessing about a negative review? Instead of taking that review and applying what might have been constructive criticism and tossing out everything else, this author has been THINKING ABOUT ME.

When you look at those two years, and think about that time, can you imagine the things the author could have done with all that negative energy? It amuses me, because I'm not worth it; my review wasn't worth it; and yet, this author obviously thinks those negative reviews are something to spend two years on.

Don't be that author. Take the good, leave the bad, and you'll find yourself a much happier person in the long run.