How to Handle a Negative Book Review

Ronald E. Yates is an author of award-winning historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy.

There is an adage that says “any publicity is good publicity–even if it is bad.” Why? Because the objective is to get people talking about you and your book.

If you are like me, I don’t believe a lot of the negative reviews I see on sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, etc.  In fact, I will often comb through all of a book’s reviews to see if others are saying the same negative things about a book. If they are not, I will typically rely more on the positive reviews than the bad ones.

Sometimes I will buy a book with bad reviews just to see if it’s as bad as the reviewers say it is. Often, it isn’t.

I spent most of my life as a journalist. I KNOW what it is like to have one’s work criticized mercilessly by nasty editors. The key is to look at negative comments of your work for “constructive” criticism and then be open-minded enough to use that criticism to improve your writing, your pacing, your plot, your characterization, etc.

Of course, there are those trolls who merely live to “trash” other people’s work. Those reviews are easy to spot. They will write that the book is “dumb” or “boring” or “trashy” without backing up their opinions with anything constructive. Writers need to let those criticisms go and not obsess about them.

Check out Amazon’s reviews. You will see books like War and Peace and Gone With the Wind getting one and two-star reviews or ratings.

Indeed, you will find bestsellers with lots of bad reviews. For example, the last book in the popular Hunger Games Trilogy has racked up something like 500 one-star reviews on Amazon. And John Locke has a 3-star average on his popular Saving Rachel (a Donovan