Coping with Negative Reviews

They Aren't All You've Got

Source: How to Handle Negative Reviews by Sarina Langer

If you’re a writer, self-published or otherwise, sooner or later you will receive your very first negative review (*sigh* It’s a right of passage, all right!) You shouldn’t worry about it, or be discouraged by it, because no matter how great your novel is, it won’t be right for everyone. No novel is.

But it still hurts. It’s still painful to see that someone disliked, maybe even hated, this thing you spent such a long time perfecting! It’s inevitable and you need to accept that, but how do you prepare yourself?

Take a look at this:


This is a review for Rise of the Sparrows. Of course I was disappointed to see it, but it doesn’t invalidate my 5-star reviews! Of course there’s someone out there who doesn’t like my book, and there’ll be a great many others, too. I’m okay with that, because they found my book! They wanted to read my book! It’s unfortunate that they didn’t enjoy it, but they tried it, and it’s not like our readers are under any obligation. If they pay for it, they have a right to be disappointed. The important thing is that they found it, and therefore others will, too. Some of those new readers will agree with the 2-star review, others will disagree.

And let’s just focus on the most important thing here – it’s two stars, not one. They didn’t hate everything.

*ahem* *awkward cough*


Knowing that you’ll get negative reviews and being ready for it, however, are two very different things. So what can you do if your endless mantras of It’s fine, it’s okay, not everyone can like what I do, it’s a big world aren’t enough?

Well, what’s your favourite book? Of all time? Go find it on Goodreads, and have a look through the reviews. Come back when you’re done.

*might as well make tea while I wait*

Are you back? Feels good, doesn’t it? My favourite reads this year – (also ever) – were The Name of the Wind and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. You can check out my reviews for them by clicking on the links if you want to see how much I really loved them (or I could spare you the trouble – I loved them a lot). But let’s have a look at what other people thought of them, shall we?



(That’s an impressive amount of hatred right there!)




If people hated those books this much – books that I love so deeply – then isn’t it okay for other people to hate my book, too? Books like Harry Potter get negative reviews, too, and while I don’t in any way want to suggest that my books are similar to J. K’s genius, I want to make this clear, so the negative words don’t hurt you as badly:

Every book gets negative reviews. Every book has someone who hates it so much that they can’t even be bothered to write a full review, and will only say things like “This was terrible. Don’t pay money for this shit, it was that awful.” Every book has a review like that one, and your book won’t be an exception.

That’s fine. No novel, no matter how fantastic and brilliant you thought it was, is immune – and whether we’re talking about your own novel here or marvels like The Name of the Wind or The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms won’t make a difference.


Here’s one other thing you can try: Over time, positive feedback will pile up, too, and you can keep it saved away in one, neat folder, so that you can read over all the reasons people loved your book when the negative reviews come rolling in. This could be feedback from your beta readers or favourite snippets from the 5-Star reviews you’ve received (oh gone on then – save the whole thing!) – it doesn’t matter, as long as you’ve got it handy when you need it.

So, to summarise: Yes, there’ll be negative reviews. Some people will dislike your novel, and some will hate it with an impressive passion. But other people will fall in love with the world you have created, the characters you’ve placed into it, and will eagerly await the sequel or new release – just because you‘ve written it. Negative reviews can ruin your day, but don’t forget that they aren’t all you’ve got.

It’s fine for people to hate your book. Others will love it, and will shout your name from the rooftops. And if that’s not enough—

Head on over to Goodreads, and look up your favourite books ever written. Their own negative reviews might help.

Photo by Nate

November 17, 2016
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