The saying “Bad reviews aren’t really bad” is actually true. There are many benefits to bad reviews, and I’ll be the first to say that I LOVE them.
Do I love them when they pop up on my Amazon or Goodreads page and yell at me for being a mediocre writer with no hope of success? Not so much.
However, after I rant and rave about how the review was mean or unwarranted, I usually take a second glance and tell myself the same things I do every time someone doesn’t like my work:
- Everyone is entitled to their own (wrong) opinion. (LOL)
- Not everyone loves the same thing.
I belong to numerous writing groups and there’s an author who is always revered for their writing by everyone else. But me? I couldn’t read their work at all. Granted, it was written really well, but it wasn’t my genre of choice and I just didn’t find it interesting. It has nothing to do with that author and everything to do with what I do/don’t like.
- Is there anything in the review I can learn from or improve on?
I generally find the reviews that have a genuine complaint annoy me more than the ones that just attack the book. Valid complaints are upsetting because I’ll agree that I could’ve done better, or that they made a fair point. The good thing about this though, is it means I learn how to better my craft. I generally don’t stay mad for long.
So why am I professing my LOVE for bad reviews if they make me all twitchy and crankypants? (Crankypants – so a word!)
Not only do some bad reviews teach you to better your craft, they also keep you grounded, and help keep hold of that little bit of self-doubt all authors have.
I’ll be the first to admit that when the shining 5 star reviews come in, I’m usually on a high for a full day. I feel invincible, and like I’m going to be the next big thing. I need the bad reviews to bring me back down and remember that no matter how proud I am of my work, I can always improve. In this industry, it’s a constant learning curve. If you’re no longer learning, your books won’t progress and you won’t move forward. I believe I get better with every book I write, but if I got nothing but 5 glowing stars, why would I feel like I need to improve? I’d get lazy. I’d feel like everyone was going to love what I wrote, no matter what it was. I can tell you now – they wouldn’t!
Another reason I love bad reviews is because it means my book is getting out there. All different kinds of people are reading my books. Anyone who has only good or decent reviews is suspicious. Where did those reviews come from? Every best seller out there – Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Fault in Our Stars – they all have bad reviews. Why? Again, it’s because not everyone likes the same thing. So if a book is only being read by people who LOVE the book? Alarm bells warn in my head. Chances are they are all solicited reviews.
*Please note: I’m not saying solicited reviews aren’t honest, but it’s a sign the book isn’t selling and it’s not reaching its target audience.
The last reason I love bad reviews is because what someone might hate, someone else might love. I know I kind of said similar above, but what I mean is this:
One of my books received a one star review that said:
“I felt like I was reading a story written by a horny, liberal teenager.”
You know why I love this so much? Because this will make horny liberal teenagers pick up my book! (who are my YA target audience, unlike the above reviewer.) *Please note, if you’re a teen and neither liberal nor horny, I’m sure you’d still like my book.
Another one of mine that was two stars:
“I lose interest when the obligatory gay character enters the scene.”
You know who may read my book now? A teenager who might be struggling with their sexuality.
I’ve read reviews of Young Adult books that actually say something along the lines of the reader being in their forties and not enjoying the book because it was really aimed at teenagers.
While I believe any age can enjoy a Young Adult book, if you don’t like teenage angst, why are you picking up this genre? But again, these reviews promote the book for what it really is – a book for teens. The right target audience will read that and want to pick up the book.
So that, in a nutshell, is why I LOVE BAD REVIEWS! **Except for that one on Goodreads that said my book was dull and predictable. YOU’RE dull and predictable, random reviewer! (Mature comeback, am I right?)