How to Handle Critics
It’s sad but true: the more your book sells and the more success you enjoy, the more open you become to critics.
Some of these critics are your friends – no, really – they offer insightful comments and suggestions you hadn’t considered before, and they leave it with you with all good intentions meant. Some of these critics however are, unfortunately, just out to personally attack you on every level they can find. They hate your book, you are the worst writer ever, not only that – you are the worst person ever and you should stop everything you’re doing immediately. I’m not going to sit here and say you should just ignore them, let it roll off, love everyone, because let’s face it, those reviews hurt. However, there are certain things to keep in mind that will help.
- If someone really dislikes your book that much, and has taken the time to let you know as much in no uncertain terms, then congratulations: you know now that person is not your target audience. Working out who isn’t your audience is one big step towards knowing for sure who is your audience. Investigate, find out what you can about this person, and edit your marketing strategies accordingly.
- Remember, it’s all subjective. You can’t please everyone! Just because it’s a bad review doesn’t mean that person’s opinion is wrong. It may be short-sighted, emotional, unfair, but not wrong.
- People, sadly, are very comfortable saying things behind the safety of a keyboard that they would never say in person. The internet has become a medium through which angry or sad people can unfairly vent their frustration at strangers. And remember, no credible reader will take these reviews from internet trolls seriously. The crazier or angrier the bad review the better, in fact. Be polite when you respond, thank them for the review, leave it there. Don’t try to retaliate, don’t even try to defend your book – you won’t win and you won’t get through to them.
- Even if it’s a negative one, you have evoked an emotional response from someone. Isn’t that ultimately all any writer (or indeed, any artist at all) wants? You’ve made an enough of an impact that they took the time to take to the internet and write about you. You’re under their skin. Who wants to be mediocre, forgettable? Surely that’s much worse!
- Combat it with positivity. Reach out to your family and friends, your established reader base, and don’t be shy – ask them for a review! Unfortunately, people are far more likely to leave a negative review than a positive one. There’s no shame in asking your readers to take 30 seconds out of their day to leave you a positive review, and there’s no reason why they wouldn’t do that for you. They were probably already thinking of doing so. Just give them a nudge!
Of course it hurts when you get a bad review. This is your baby, your creation, you’ve poured your heart and soul into it, and someone is attacking your baby. But I guarantee that in a week, a month, a year – you won’t remember it. Keep smiling, keep going, keep writing. Positivity will out.