How to survive a scathing book review

blog post bad review

As some of you may know, I recently received a great review of One Night from Midwest Book Review. However, I also recently received a horrible review from another publication which I won’t name here. Suffice it to say they just did not get One Night. At all. For a very dark hour I wondered if I should quit writing altogether. How can something I love, something other people love, be so misunderstood? What if it sucks? What if it’s not something that can entertain and pull readers out of their own lives for a bit?

Instead of giving up, I decided to be proactive and share some tips on how to cope with a terrible review.

  1. Read one-star reviews of your favorite books, or books critics love. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Every single one of them has haters (many of them) which is shocking yet also comforting. Here’s a one-star review of one of my favorite books, The Fault in Our Stars.
  2. Drink a glass of wine, eat an ice cream cone, have some chocolate – whatever your vice is, allow yourself a bit of it and move on. My vice is ice cream obviously as indicated by the image above 🙂
  3. Remember publishing is a subjective business. J.K. Rowling has been rejected numerous times as have many other mega-bestsellers. You can’t be everything to everyone and that is okay. Remember you can be something to someone, however.
  4. Keep writing. You want your work to be out there. You want your voice to be heard. You want to share your stories even if some of the world hates them. The world may not need your voice, but someone out there, multiple someones, do. Those someones are why you write. Keep at it.

If you have any other tips, I’d love to hear them.

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  1. I’m so sorry you had this experience. I have seen a one star review before for a book well deserved of little acclaim, but for the most part, for a million different reasons, it is undeserved. NEVER base your perception of yourself, talent, or work on another’s opinion. Negative experiences tend to generate negativity, as do positive experiences generate positivity. You have no idea which side your reviewer has just experienced.

    People in the B&B industry address these reviews with an apology and an attempt to rectify the perceived criticism, but in today’s world with the anonymity of the internet full of acidic commentary, it is a difficult time to be in the public’s eye as a writer. Sadly, these kind of experiences tend to now be the norm. A rebuttal or apology would only generate more criticism.

    You have to believe in yourself in this business. You have to believe that you did the best you could do when you present a piece of work to the world. Then internally, even though these types of horrid comments sting, you can hang onto that fact. The sting comes from looking for validation through our reader’s opinions, which are as varied as the flavors of ice cream one craves when berated. These blindsiding incidents are not only demoralizing, but unworthy of the sender. One can always find something kind to say if someone is inclined to do so.

    Don’t give up. It is the belief in yourself that will eventually carry you through.

    Best of luck,

    Betsy Diedrick


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