My Writing Journey

How to Survive Bad Reviews

If you read my first post for 2017, you’ll know that not everyone enjoyed The Tycoon’s Reluctant Cinderella. I wasn’t naïve enough to expect that everyone would enjoy my debut book. But I must admit I didn’t expect there to be bad reviews quite so quickly.

I spent some time thinking about them, and then I got over it. I survived. Because I quickly realised that the value of my work and my self-worth shouldn’t depend on reviews – good or bad. If you’re struggling to get there, maybe the realisations I had will help you, too.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Just make sure you listen to your own, too.

This is a lesson applicable to your everyday life, too. But with your writing, know that everyone will have a different opinion. Some people will love your book. Some won’t. As I said in a previous post about reviews, these opinions don’t define you or your writing. (As a side note, you should be careful with letting good reviews define you, too. Because once they turn negative – which they inevitably will – they’ll likely have just as strong an effect on you as the positive.)

What this experience taught me though, was that my opinion counts, too. I love the book I wrote. I’m excited that it has one of my favourite tropes – boss and employee – and that it showcases my home city of Cape Town. I love my main characters, Blake and Callie, and the journeys each of them take individually and together to their happy ending.

Sure, it might not have been the best way to write this trope. It might not have been the best way to write my city or these characters and their stories. But it was the best story I could write based on where I was in my writing journey.

I respect that everyone has an opinion. But I’ve learnt that I need to respect my opinion, too. After all, I’m the best informed to form an opinion. And at the very least, I should give it just as much weight as I do others.

Bad reviews are not the end of your career.

Authors get paid to have their imaginations run wild. Sometimes though, we aren’t able to rein it in in our real lives. Take this one, for example. When I read the bad reviews for my book, there was a moment when I irrationally feared that it meant the end of my publishing career.

But then I took a step back and thought about the most popular authors of our time. They didn’t start out writing the books they’re lauded for now. And even now, their books get bad reviews. Look at the reviews for Nora Roberts’ books on Amazon or Goodreads, for example. They range from absolutely wonderful to absolutely mean. This applies to books at the beginning of her career AND books that she’s written more recently. And you know what? It hasn’t affected her career in the least.

You’re a published author. Be proud of that.

Not everyone who wants to be an author is one. Chances are the person who wrote the bad review of your book might be one of those people who aren’t published yet, but desperately want to be.

The fact that you’ve put something out there for someone else to read is something to be proud of.

Whether you’ve gone the traditional publishing route or whether you’re self-published, writing a book from start to finish is an achievement. Moreover, putting it out there for the world to see – for someone to have an opinion of – is brave. So next time someone says something negative about your work, don’t forget how far you’ve already come!

Do you have any advice on surviving bad reviews? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter!

8 thoughts on “How to Survive Bad Reviews

  1. This blog with it’s wise advice should be compulsory reading for new (and often sensitive) authors … loved it, thank you!
    Trust me, that mean 1* vitriolic review ceases to hurt when you get some super 5* rave reviews – believe in yourself.

    1. That’s so wonderful of you, Lally, thank you! I really hope sharing my experiences will help new authors. Yes, I believe you! If just one person likes my writing, I’m grateful 🙂