It’s a fact of life that all of us are different, and we all like and dislike different things. Some of us prefer horror movies, some like drama, some like comedy. Some of us like to live in the city, some prefer the country. Some of us like sweet food, others like hot and spicy.
And the same holds true for books. Some of us like character driven stories, other’s like plot driven. Some like romance, other’s like literary fiction. Some like love triangles, other’s hate them. Some people gobble up books in a series, other’s only read standalones.
So it’s not surprising, when you think about it, that any given book will have nearly as many bad reviews as good ones.
As I’ve collected reviews, I’ve been uplifted by the positive ones. The ones that say they can’t wait for the next book encourage me to write it. Those that say they love my characters, or my plot made them think, really make my day.
On the other hand, the ones who don’t like my book tend to stick in my head just as much. Sometimes, they get me down, sometimes they even make me wonder why I’m doing this.
But the reality is, that there is no way a single book can please everyone. We can never get complete agreement on what makes a good book, and what makes a bad one, because the opinion varies by the reader’s likes and dislikes.
So I’m trying to let the bad reviews roll off my back. I totally respect a readers right to their opinion, and I do consider reviews to see if they have some merit, and if there’s anything I can learn from them for the next book. But mostly, I think they’re just readers who were looking for a different kind of book.
And I hope they find it! I also hope the people who want to read just the sort of book I write can find mine.
Writers, how do you cope with bad reviews? And readers, how much do good and bad reviews influence your book buying?
I like this post. It’s a lot harder to let go of the bad reviews, though. But you seem to have taken them as a learning experience.
It can be hard, but it gets easier the more reviews you get! I’ve accepted that everyone doesn’t have to like my book. Everyone has their own opinion, and I’m OK with that.
Another blog I follow (speak about happiness) wrote about this today. If bad reviews are constructive I don’t mind so much (for example one of my 1-star reviews said Dragon Wraiths was preachy and I can see that) but the ones that say ‘waste of my time’ or things like that are harder to take. I felt like I was being accused of wasting their time, and my thought (after I stopped being upset) was “you didn’t have to finish it, if it was that bad.” Enough other people have said they loved it and can’t wait for a sequel.
It’s like the Pretty Woman quote, though, isn’t it? “The bad stuff is easier to believe” – or is that just me?! Lol
I think your books are great, so keep at it. When you’re on your fortieth best seller, you’ll still be getting 1-start reviews as well as five-star ones because, as you say, the world would be pretty dull if we all loved the same things.
I actually find it easier to handle the less constructive ones, as they’re usually more opinion based, whereas the constructive ones, while helpful, make me more aware of the mistakes I’ve made!
Thanks for the compliment. I’m not sure about bestsellers, but I’m happy if some people read and enjoy them. And yep, even the best selling authors get 1 star reviews.
I like this post too. 😀
As a reader I will often read one bad review and one good review of a book by an unknown author. Then I look at the middle reviews but I’m really only checking to see if reviews are due to personal dislikes or if it’s just about grammar, etc. I hate spoilers so that’s why I check out only a few. Even with a known author a story may not suit. The story is what matters to me and if I like the genre and premise (and if can afford it), I will read it because I love to read. My life needs to be escaped from sometimes and books do that for me Since I was young. I try not to be mean in reviews I may do because it takes guts to publish a book! I love to find new authors are treasures for me. Often they are writing with their hearts.and it comes across.
Never let anyone stop you from your dream of being an author! Dee
Thanks Dee, it’s great to get a reader’s perspective. I do this too, read a couple of good and bad reviews, but not too many. I like the ones that tell me a bit more about the story, (without spoilers), because sometimes it’s hard to tell from the blurb.
I like to go and read the bad reviews for some of my favourite authors. It makes me feel a little better about my own. Although I’ve found a lot of the time that I have trouble believing the good ones. I collaborated recently with established writer Eve Paludan, and I found myself wondering how many of the good reviews were down to her fan base. Which is nonsense, obviously. They wouldn’t be fans if they didn’t like the books.
Yes, most authors, even well known and loved ones, get bad reviews. Which really brings me back to the idea that it’s about opinion, and everyone likes different things. I write books I enjoy, so statistically, it’s not surprising that other people like them too.
I’m sure fan’s start the good reviews, but I think over time they even out, with reviews coming from many different people.
There’s a danger though (I think) in dismissing every criticism as just a matter of personal taste, and therefore not something you should take any notice of. Sometimes criticisms are justified, and you can learn from them and improve your writing. We can’t all really believe that every book we write is always 100% perfect. That just makes no sense. You want to look for trends. If 34 people say it’s a page-turner, and 2 people say it drags, the pace is probably just fine for what you intend. If those numbers are reversed, then it’s likely you’ve got some stuff that needs cutting.
There are books from authors I love overall that I think are just weak books. Some authors (Daphne Du Maurier, Anne Tyler, Bill Bryson) I find very uneven. Mostly good stuff. Some awful clunkers. If I point out flaws in a review, it’s not because I’m “mean.” It’s because I see a flaw. We don’t assume I’m wrong about every flaw I see but right about every aspect I praise — do we?
Dismissing every criticism as a matter of personal taste is dangerous, yes. If lots of people are saying the same thing, you should probably listen.
However, there are some things that are a matter of personal taste rather than a flaw. Too fast paced vs exciting, too much sex vs not enough, love this character vs hate this character. That’s when we need to take a look at the fact that what some people hate about our stories, other’s love.