What to Do When People Hate Your Book

Photo credit: Marie Coleman

Photo credit: Marie Coleman

What happens when you get bad reviews or negative feedback on your book? It’s easy to get depressed and want to give up. But the worst thing you can do now is quit.

What to do when people hate your book:

  1. Don’t take it personally. When readers criticize your book, realize that it’s not you they’re criticizing. Your story may feel like a part of you, since all stories  are an extension of the author, but it’s vital to separate yourself from your work. A bad review of your book is not a bad review of you as a person. (Some really hateful reviewers may criticize you personally, but you must realize that that kind of lashing out is not only inappropriate in a book review, but also probably stems from their own personal issues.)
  2.  Don’t believe you’re a failure. Even a bestseller is going to get a few bad reviews now and then, and your book isn’t immune. (If your book hasn’t gotten any bad reviews, it’s because not enough people have read it.) You can’t take a few (or many) bad reviews as a sign of failure. Realize that readers come in as many varieties as there are people in the world, and not everyone will like your book. Even if your book is flawless and amazing, not everyone will like it. And that’s okay.
  3. Learn from the experience. Some bad reviews just bash, but often hidden in those honest two- and three-star reviews you’ll find helpful nuggets. The catch is, you have to be looking for them. If you go into defensive mode, you won’t learn anything, but if you let your pride down and search, you’ll often find things you could have done better. Some comments you can chalk up to the reader’s personal preference, but when you see a trend—many reviewers mentioning the same issue—that knowledge can help you make your next book better. You’ll often be able to spot your own writing pitfalls, and next time you’ll know how to avoid making the same mistakes.
  4. Don’t quit. Whatever you do, don’t stop writing. You may be frustrated, tired, and depressed, but don’t give in. The only way you can fail is to stop. Put your past projects behind you and move on to the next one. Everything you’ve written is practice. And the more you practice, the better you’ll get.

You might also be interested in:

Getting Over the One Star Review

Getting Over the One-Star Review

Why Are You Miserable?

Why Are You Miserable?

Feedback and Where to Stuff It

Feedback and Where to Stuff It



4 thoughts on “What to Do When People Hate Your Book

  • Hi Becca.
    I’ve written book reviews and read quite a few. I, and I’m sure there are some others, have developed my own reviewing style as well as scoring style over the years. I noticed a trend with some one and two star reviews. Often the reviewer either missed the point/nuances or missed the crucial part of the story that covers their complaint. Sometimes, the book may have been written 10 or 15 years ago when authors and readers were trending on something or a writing style that is no longer relevant. Even die-hard fans may overlook this. Sometimes an author changes their writing style or goes in a direction the reader didn’t anticipate. As a reviewer, I know my own reviews don’t sometimes stack up well with other reviewers. When I scroll through the other reviews I may be the only one writing from a particular point of view. You are timely with your advice because it is all a learning experience. As a reviewer I’ve taken other reviewers’ constructive criticism for what it was and even employed their advice.

    • You’re right that many readers/reviewers have different takes on a book, and I think that’s a good thing. I think readers value seeing many sides when they are debating what book to choose. When I’m deciding whether or not to read a book, I like to read reviews on both ends of the spectrum (positive and negative), and sometimes the negative reviews can actually sell me on a book as much as the positive ones can. If the reviewer complains about something in the book that I happen to like, I may end up getting that book, despite their negative review.

      And there aren’t any hard and fast rules to reviewing, so it makes sense that people focus on different things. I don’t write many reviews and the reason is that I know I’m biased based on how much I personally enjoyed the story (over quality). Who knows, maybe that’s a good thing. In the end, it’s all subjective anyway.

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  • I’m an author and I’ve been reviewed before.

    I don’t read my reviews anymore. As far as I know I haven’t even received anything scathing, but reading even the positive ones makes me anxious and freaks me out a little (okay, a lot). I don’t like it. It’s like eavesdropping on a private conversation. I just don’t want to know.

    • That makes sense to me. I haven’t totally sworn off reading reviews yet, but I think every author has to decide for him/herself, and I know there are times when reading reviews is actually harmful to me. I need to keep up my motivation and excitement when I’m in the middle of a writing project, and I can’t afford to get derailed. So I totally get where you’re coming from.

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