Advice for dealing with a bad review…

THIS BOOK SUX. I WIPED MY DOG’S BUTT WITH THE LAST TWENTY PAGES. I BLEW MY NOSE WITH THE FIRST TWENTY. I LINED MY PARAKEET’S CAGE WITH ALL OF THE PAGES IN BETWEEN. AND I STILL WANT MY MONEY BACK!  – ONE STAR ISN’T LOW ENOUGH OF A RATING FOR THIS BOOK. CAN YOU BISECT A STAR ABOUT SIXTY-EIGHT-THOUSAND TIMES AND CALL IT A RATING? 

Did a bad review ruin your day?

Here’s ten tips for dealing with a bad review.

1. Just look at the sales figures. Or not.

2. Run giggling to the bank. Or not.

3. Write another book. Preferably a novel involving chainsaws, shotguns and high explosive. Maybe tie that reviewer to a fictional bridge and run a make-believe railroad train full of chainsaws, shotguns and high explosives over their shrieking body. Maybe even throw in a couple of rabid dogs. EVERYBODY loves rabid dogs, don’t they?

4. Pet your cat. Listen to her purr. Soak up the adoration. Better yet, feed your cat. NOW we’re talking purring…

5. Run around the block six or eight times. Physical fitness is great for burning off bad feelings. Maybe if you’re lucky you’ll trample that blind orphan who plays her ukelele at the street corner and gets her pet rhesus monkey to hold out a paper coffee cup in hopes of tips.

6. Go and watch your favourite movie. (Yes, I spell “favourite” with an “ou” – no matter what my spell-check tells me – I’m Canadian, I’m cultured, hell – I even drink my beer with one pinkie finger daintily extended…)

7. Take a long shower. Sing. Nobody has to listen.

8. Get drunk.

9. Diddle about on Facebook asking all of your friends to tell you what a wonderful writer you are.

10. Go and write another book.

Am I repeating myself on that last entry? No – dammit – you should have stopped reading at suggestion #3 and been halfway past Chapter 17 by now…

 

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

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21 responses to “Advice for dealing with a bad review…

  1. #3 may or may not be the way I deal with my less pleasant acquaintances. Good times!

  2. YAY, well said O’Cultured One. I don’t mind bad reviews that are constructive, in some ways they help. But the plain nasty, ones written by someone probably both illegitimate and illiterate and full of terms warning readers they cud do beter themsleves tend to prove that maybe the big words near the pictures were just too much for them. These people get their rocks off ( hey look at me, I’m with the modern terminology) from the power they think they hold “Boy, did I tell some sh*t author he sucked last night” probably doesn’t even impress their friends who’ve never seen them with anything other than a comic book.
    Take Steve’s great scenario or make sure you add this person as a character to your new book, one who dies first in a disgustingly painful way. Just don’t take them seriously since they’re not worth the worry.

  3. So many excellent tips Steve, but don’t forget to get dressed after the shower, and before running around the block six or eight times.Because draughtiness can assist recall of bad reviews. Whatever happens, keep singing.

  4. Steve, you are a man of wonder! :) You have a way with words that is … um … shockingly inspirational.

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  7. Just knowing that you drink your beer with one pinkie finger daintily extended makes me respect you all the more, not only for your writing but because you’re Canadian and cultured.What a combination!

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  9. J. Alison Miller

    Too funny, Steve! But, I do have 2 serious questions. First, any thoughts on NOT reading reviews (especially for new writers)? If a newer writer was in a position to have a “ghost reader” of reviews, to summarize actual constructive criticism while filtering out the haters, would you recommend it? Why or why not?
    Secondly, I’m trying to figure out how to find good beta-test readers who possess editing/proofreading skills, without making me want to give up. I’ve been told by many…even complete strangers…that I am an excellent writer with strong communication and descriptive skills. The problem I’ve had is in finding persons with the above strengths, who will not start telling me what THEY would do with the plot. I have a few apparent “wannabes” who say they are fabulous writers who don’t have the time, money, etc. to do it “for a living”. In other words, they either possess neither the skill nor the patience to do the WORK (what Dorothy Parker calls “applying the ass to the seat”). But when tasked with the job of proofreading, suddenly they try to take over the story, the characters, try to rename the book, etc. I could understand critique on plot and such if I was asking for it, but even when it’s a single chapter up for review for grammar, punctuation, continuity of tense, etc., I’ve run into “story-hijackers”. Stephen King says that proofing and editing shouldn’t be done by friends or family because of personal bias and, I presume, some of these same issues. I need advice on how to find helpful, honest, readers who enjoy reading but have no desire to steal or drive the car, so to speak? Is this possible without using a paid service? Or am I searching for a unicorn in a field of horses here? My email is listed below. Thank you! Alison

    • Hi Alison.

      Thoughts on NOT reading reviews? Well, I can’t really say all that much about it – because I am afraid that I do read reviews. I just try and not pay too much attention to what they are saying. People are ALWAYS going to have their opinions and if a writer WANTS to be reviewed then that writer has to be ready for WHATEVER a reviewer might have to say.

      Sometimes a bad review can turn into a good one. Let’s say a writer writes smut for the readers of erotica and some unsuspecting reviewer picks one of the author’s stories up and gives it a read and then leaves a scathing one star review that says something along the lines of THIS HAS TO BE THE NASTIEST SMUT THAT I HAVE EVER READ. IT BLEW MY MIND AND LEFT ME POSITIVELY FLABBERGASTED AT THE IDEA THAT ANY FOURTEEN NAKED HUMANS COULD POSSIBLY ACCOMPLISH SUCH ANATOMICALLY SHOCKING CONTORTIONS!

      Well, a review like that – one star or not – is apt to sell a whole whack of smut books for that other.

      The same thing might work for horror or romance or gangster lit.

      So, some folks will avoid reading reviews and other folks will give them a look – but the only thing I would warn any writer about is taking a review too seriously.

      About your second question. I don’t use a “beta” reader that often – but if I did I would try and find myself at least THREE good reliable “beta” readers, so that I could weigh and measure their comments against each other. Let’s say two out of the three feel that one character is sorely underused – well, I might pay attention to something like that.

      As for paying for a “beta” reader, I think that defeats the purpose.

      Still, King is right in that hiring a professional editor to proofread your manuscript is ALWAYS a good idea. I can’t always afford to hire someone but the times that I have worked with an editor have USUALLY been a very good experience for me. There were a couple of turkeys who I worked with. In one case the editor was turkey enough that I ended up pulling out of the project – just because I felt that the editor and I were NEVER going to see eye-to-eye.

      Hope that helped some.

      Thanks for the comments.

      • Alison MIller

        Thank you, Steve. I really appreciate the advice. I have some well-meaning friends who are always willing to proofread and give feedback. Problem is, some of them seem to relish the idea of rewriting the work FOR me (a.k.a. Taking over my novel instead of writing their OWN,) I used to believe that, although Southern born and bred, my English was still pretty clear, It seems that isn’t so? When I say, “Please read and give me feedback on any punctuation issues, congruence of present tense, etc.” Somehow they hear, “Please change my characters’ names, gender, occupation, and entire motivation, before moving on to 107 reasons why you don’t like the TITLE.” (Also known as the WTF-Are-You-Doing School of Editing.) I am presently trying to weed out the ‘everything you write is GOLDEN’ friends from the editorial terrorists described above.

        Other than that, life is golden. Sorry to hear about your roof! I would have indeed panicked also. Hoping your evening is better than your morning turned out to be! Blessings, Alison

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