How to Handle Harsh Criticism Without Crying

It finally happened. I got a stinging review of my book. Sure, I’d already gotten reviews in which readers mentioned something they didn’t like about the story, but overall, I seemed to win them over by the end.

I’d tried to tell myself that it was inevitable. I reassured myself that not everyone was going to like my book and that was okay. But then when someone actually voiced their negative opinion publically, I couldn’t help but sit back and say, “Ouch.”

I had to re-read the blog review a couple of times just to make sure I hadn’t gotten it wrong. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make the words, “I did not like it at all” go away. For a little while I felt like someone was standing upon my heart, pressing down with all of their weight, deflating the life from it.

As I went about the rest of the afternoon doing my mom-duties, I’m mulled over the review and tried to make sense of it. Here are a few of the things I jotted down:

Remember the positives.

Yes, sometimes negative words weigh more than positive. We’ve all been in situations where one tiny comment cut us and left a painful wound. It didn’t matter that others complimented us. We remembered the one negative instead.

It’s hard to replace the inborn-scale that weighs the negative more heavily. But at some point, we need to work on evening out our scales, letting the positives have more weight.

Why should I let one person’s negative words deflate me, when so many others have taken the time to uplift and encourage me? And besides, shouldn’t we take pride in our uniqueness, grow in self-confidence, and see the positives in ourselves first?

We can’t be ALL things to ALL people.

As a people-pleaser, I don’t want to disappoint anyone. And of course, as a writer, I definitely don’t want to disappoint readers—especially fans of inspirational historical fiction, my genre readers. But I’m learning that even within genres, readers have different likes and dislikes. Some may crave a slower book with a lot of setting details, and others would rather have a fast-paced plot without any fluff. Some want a sweet romance and others want deeper relationship issues.

I won’t be able to please all lovers of historical fiction. My style/voice is just that—mine. I can’t change it in order to accommodate everyone. That would be an impossible task. Instead, I have to remain true to my voice and let it win over who it will.

Watch what we say publicly.

Reviews are a powerful tool in swaying someone to purchase a book or not. As writers who are also readers, we would do well to keep in mind the principle of doing unto others what we want them to do unto us. If we wouldn’t want other writers to bash our books publically, then we should refrain from doing it. My personal philosophy is that if I can’t find something positive to say, then I won’t say anything at all.

I realize there are some who think the public deserves to know both sides of the issue. After all, if people only write good reviews, how will buyers get the full picture of what the book is like? If we’ve taken into account the subjectivity involved in reviews (see this post: How To Handle Subjective & Contradictory Feedback), and we still feel the need to share our opinions, we can do so in a tactful and kind way.

Remember that opinions are just that—opinions.

After I thought about the negative review for a while, I realized that this particular person was probably viewing my book through her very conservative world view. She classified the novel as “steamy enough that any modest girl would feel uncomfortable reading it.” But then there are readers who’ve classified it as a “sweet” romance, saying, “It was refreshing to read a fully satisfying romance without anything that made me squirm in my seat.”

Who’s right? And who’s wrong? Maybe both are right—right about what works for them. After all, everyone approaches a novel with different expectations, beliefs, world views, etc. All of that will influence a reading experience. But I can’t let it influence me or the way I write.

Know when to defend ourselves and when to walk away.

At one point during the post, the reviewer said, “[the book] does not represent truth.” I could only shake my head with bewilderment. What in the world did that mean? As far as I was concerned, I’d worked my hardest to stay true to the setting, time period, characters, etc. I’d also worked to present a theme of prevailing through hardships—a theme that could be applicable to every person past and present.

I was tempted to write a comment and defend the “truths” in my book. But I refrained. Was it really worth stirring up possible strife to defend myself? What did I have to win by it? “Pick your battles,” I tell my children when they’re squabbling with one another over insignificant issues. We have to know what’s worth fighting over, and what to let slip past us.

What’s your opinion? Do you think we should restrain from posting negative reviews and opt for silence instead? Or do you think it’s important for both the positive and negative opinions to be voiced?


  1. ouch Jody! You handled that well. Me? I'd cry. then later I'd remind myself to stay strong. :))

  2. This is a brilliant post, Jody. One I'm going to bookmark and keep handy for when that day comes for me. Such wisdom and humily here, my friend.

    I agree with the silence thing. If, as writers, we can't find anythign good to say about a book, then I think we ought to not say anything at all. Leave it to the non-writers and professional book reviewers to say the hard stuff, if it's necessary. They don't have bridges to burn.

    Shake it off, girl! You're getting LOADS of awesome reviews! Seriously. Loads!

    P.S. I would be celebrating about this person's comment about the steaminess factor!! Dude, if I didn't know you or your book, that comment would make me pick up your book ASAP! LOL!

  3. I think you handled that amazingly well. I have a hard time controlling my tongue, your ability to do so is inspiring. I would have responded and probably not very kindly. It takes a LOT of work for me to keep my thoughts, opinons, and views to myself. I do okay, untill I feel attacked or someone asks a direct question. My tongue and my inability to lie...well they just cause chaos! I warn others of my unique trait when a relationship is beginning, "Do not ask me a direct question if you do not want a bold face and bluntly honest answer. I won't sugar coat it." Sometimes it helps, sometimes...well as I said Chaos.
    Very inspiring and encouraging post.

  4. Thank you for this brave post, Jody. I'm learning as I go through this writer thing that it is best to stay positive even when someone attacks you negatively. It will come back, whatever we throw out there. You handled it perfectly. We can't please everyone with our writing. I don't like historical romance at all but read your book and was delighted with how you developed it and structured it. I might not enjoy the time period, but I know good writing.

  5. I can't imagine getting a tough review like that that you know everyone can read. But I think you're right. When I hear writers complain on their blog - just as with aspiring writers - I usually don't return.

    I do know that really conservative Christians can be tough when it comes to certain subjects. So you have to keep that subjectivity in mind.

  6. This is one aspect of being published some day that I don't look forward to. But I guess that's what all the rejections prepare us for ahead of time, right? :)

  7. it would definitely sting, but at the end of the day freedom of speech and all. You did well but that reviewer actually helped you, they have created controversy around your book and i am determined to read your book now and find out what issues they found racy.

  8. Good morning, everyone!

    Joanna--that's too funny! I'm glad the negative review stirred your curiosity! :-)

    And Sarah, VERY good point! Those early rejections DO indeed toughen our skin!

  9. Very good advice.
    Picking your battles is so important. Especially online, it is easy to want to jump in and defend yourself. Then you risk making the situation worse by putting the reviewer in a position to feel defensive.

    I relate it to teaching. Everyday in my classroom, I have twenty five reviewers with different opinions. Even when the lesson is interactive and engaging, someone is going to complain.

    Maybe they are tired, don't feel good, are having a bad day or just generally grumpy. They can express their opinion, but it is my reaction to their negativity that sets the tone for the rest of the class.

    If I try to defend myself and argue the importance of the lesson, they become more irritable and the whole class is uncomfortable. Usually, if I use some gentle prodding and encouragement, they will eventually begin to enjoy themselves or, at least, stop grumbling.

  10. I think authors should not read reviews as much as possible - the day I decided to stop looking at my Amazon rankings/reviews and the day I stopped "googling my name" was the day a big weight slipped from my shoulders and the anxiety level went way down.

    It's not that I never read a review, but I only read one if someone sends it to me-my editor/publicist or a friend, or the reviewer asks me to stop by and read.

    Every single author in this universe will get bad reviews - there's no way around it. And we simply can't tell people what to do - if we accept there are good reviews with people who love us; we have to accept there are bad reviews with people who do not.

    Blog book reviewers are a great source for writers - they spread they word; they get people talking about our books - so we just need to pull on our tough skin and take the good with the bad.

    We all want to be loved, and as authors we want our words and ourselves to be loved: a double whammy - but sometimes readers 'just aren't into us' *smiling*

    Think of all the artists, actors, singers, etc - think of the movies and cd's and et ceteras out there - they are not loved and beloved by all.

    It's all a part of this business - and really, you just joined the club for real now! You are a card-carrying member of the Author Club - everyone takes their punches. The last time I was at Amazon, I had 19 5-star and one lonely 2-star - I made a decision right then not to read that 2-star - it was hard, I wanted to read it, but I didn't - I got out of there and didn't go back *bawk bawk bawk!* *laugh*

    The only time we should pay attention to negativity in our books is if there is a pattern and in that pattern is something we should look at or learn for future works - it's too late for the one that's already out!

    You accomplished something wonderful: you wrote a book and then had the big Kahooneys to be published - putting yourself Out There - one of the hardest things to do. Give yourself a Big Huge Break! *smiling*

    this is long, but - anyway - Hugs to you, Fellow Author!

  11. What I don't understand is why people keep reading a story that they don't like. If I know a book isn't a right fit for me, I stop reading and pick up something else. I certainly don't go online and give it an awful review, espcially when everyone else is giving it four and five stars.

    Sure, you're not going to reach everyone because there are too many different style of people out there. We all have different tastes and preferences. But sometimes it seems like some reviewers purposely look for books that are not in their preferred genre just so they can give a nasty review. Honestly. Do they not read the blurb??

  12. I think there's a way to address a book we're not a huge fan of with class. I write book reviews for several Christian publishers and I haven't loved every book I've read but I'm careful with my words. I have a responsibility to be this way.

    I can relate to so much of what you shared in this post.
    ~ Wendy

  13. I think both negative and positive reviews are good and as a writer you have to get used to both. Just look at S. Meyer. She's extremely successful, but there are sooo many negative reviews of her books, especially by writers. Stephen King used to have to put up with people claiming he was satanic. (sorry I know those aren't christian writers, but they're the most prominent names I can think of) It's just part of the business, but it's much, much more embarrassing for the writer if they try to defend their work or get upset over it. It's unprofessional and I'm very glad that you didn't write back to her.

    I'm not published yet, but I do some reviews and actually I sometimes prefer to comment on books that I didn't wholly like. I do so because I like discussing the writing process itself and discussing what worked and what didn't and how it could have been done differently. I try to point out things that I liked and disliked and I try not to cross the line into the scathing category. It's more interesting to me to discuss the writing merits of something than to just say that a book is great and everyone should read it. I do that sometimes too, but usually it's a blend of good and bad.

    As to why someone would continue reading a story they didn't like, I'm definitely guilty of this. Usually it's just a little tick of mine that I can't leave something unfinished. And sometimes it's well worth it. I can list about ten books off hand that didn't intrigue me for the first 100 pages, but I ended up giving 5 stars to.

    This was a great post. Kudos to you for dealing so well with the negative review!

  14. Great article, Jody. There is definitely great advice to be found there.

  15. Oh Jody, your book--and the multitude of outstanding reviews--speak for themselves. I think you did the wise thing by not engaging in a fruitless argument.

    As far as honesty in reviews that we give, I believe we can usually find something good in most books. And, if the book is truly awful, we can give a good review based on the author's character and/or heart for people. Having said that, I'm also careful about who I write reviews for.

    For me, the bottom line is that we reap what we sow. While I will always speak the truth about the books I read, wisdom demands that my words remain kind.

  16. Hey Jody! Long time no comment :)

    It sounds to me like you handled this criticism well. It's hard when people attach something you've worked hard on or when they attack you personally. But you're right: pick your battles wisely.

    Most of the time, the people won't be swayed by your defence anyway. And, if you're silent, the mess will die down and you'll walk away taller than if you'd retaliated.

    That being said, yes there IS a time to stand up for yourself and your work. It's all about balance and wisdom.

    You sound like you have both :)


  17. Wonderful post and comments.

    Just one bad review so far? I think you're doing great...

  18. I think the problem really comes often from people who are negative just for negative sake.

    I think people should be able to speak their minds as long as they do it in a respectful manner.

    If that was the case with this reviewer, i would tell my point of view. If it was a viewer who is always negative i would not bother.

    And good for you for holding it together.

  19. I think you were smart not to respond to the review, which can easily come off as defensive. It's so true that we focus on the negative much more easily than the positive (and I'm a people pleaser too) so I like that you are trying to see the big picture, including many glowing reviews.

  20. Jody,I think you were wise to say nothing. You wrote the book. Let it speak for itself. Just my opinion. I don't have any experience with this. It does sound like a hard thing to deal with, like something that can dominate your mind for a while.

  21. Great post, and I'm sorry you got a negative review. I remember when this happened with CINDERS. But the fact is it never stops hurting when you see negative things said about your work. I think one of the solutions I'll take to this is to not read every review out there.

    I applaud you for this post! I think no matter how much we prepare ourselves for this kind of thing, nothing takes the place of that actual experience. It's also very important to remember how political publishing is, and this is a small part of it.

  22. You're a very wise woman, Jody. Good for you for rising above the negative review!

    It's a part of life to face criticism, and you have detailed excellent advice for handling it. "Pick your battles" is so true! It's not worth your time and energy to refute negative comments b/c it'll probably go in one ear and out the other of that reviewer.

    I think negative opinions are okay, as long as they're based on some kind of fact and knowledgeable background. And as long as they're NOT mean or directed at the author.

  23. I felt sick for you while reading this. Negative reviews are the one thing I'm not sure I can handle. I cry when my brother doesn't like one chapter.

    But I think you were right not to respond. I once came across a Goodreads review where the author had jumped in to defend herself against a negative review. She attacked the reviewer directly and it did not make her look good. I think it's probably better just to let the review stand and hope people read more good reviews than bad.

    I've had THE PREACHER'S BRIDE sitting next to my bed for a month while I've tried to plow through all of my library reads before they're due. I LOVED the first chapter. I cried. I'm hoping to read the rest during Christmas break.

    Don't let the negative reviews get you down, Jody! You are a great writer.

  24. I'm so sorry, Jody. I'm not very good at handling negative reviews. :( I usually shed a few tears and then my husband steps in and points out that anything worth doing is going to get criticized.

    I can relate to making modest people squirm. I had someone tell me that "Is That All He Thinks About?" was pornographic. (Yowza!)

    You're so right that one negative can outweigh a zillion positives. May it not be so for us anymore!!

    Love and hugs!

  25. It’s gotta sting now matter what you tell yourself. You put yourself out there. I think you are right, everyone sees the world differently. What’s acceptable to me might be downright intolerable for someone else. You have to look at the overall picture. What types of books the reviewer did like and didn’t in the past, what’s the overall view of your readership.

    It’s best to let it go. You’d never change the mind of the reviewer.

  26. Hi Jody- I'm so sorry you got a negative review (and for the record, I TOTALLY disagree!) You're right, it's inevitable... but it still stings. I know my day is coming. I also think you handled it with grace and dignity and I hope I'll be able to do the same when my time comes. Lastly, I think your idea to stay quiet when you can't say anything good is a great one... I don't want to say/do anything to hurt someones book sales so I'll adopt the same philosophy.

  27. A scathing review is a mear dirty drop of water in the bucket! You won't notice the speck in the greater picture-ha! The reader while criticizing your speck, could not see the log in his or her own eyes. You are a wonderful author. I don't like Harry potter-ha! But I am sure no one will mind-tee-hee!♥

  28. Wow, Jody, you handled this beautifully. I do think writers who are making their way in this publishing world need to be careful what they say about other writers (writers who lead back to agents, editors, publishers, etc.). Our words are powerful, and once the words are out there, the damage is done. We must choose carefully. I don't think any writer is going to please everybody who reads her book, but other writers need to be mindful and responsible with their words when influencing others.

    Steamy? That's actually kind of funny to me. I think I might go reread your novel, because I don't remember the steamy parts as much as I remember the excellent writing, the beautiful setting and the extremely loveable characters.

  29. super great post! Hopefully, though, you can find a crit partner who knows how to mix the bitter with the sweet--to be encouraging while motivating you to think through the rough bits... Then again, when I'm critting, sometimes I have to just say, "This isn't so good." But I try to point to a spot that *was* very good and say--"more of this, please!" :o) <3

  30. Jody, Great post. You touch on so many points that I can take to heart.

    One being that we need to remember the positives in the face of negatives. There are so many times when one naysayer validates the whole of my own self-doubt, only because I let them.

    And, two, I agree about only writing reviews on books I like. I, as a writer, know the pain of rejection. I would much rather be a source of encouragement for another writer. Besides, it's much easier for me to write a review when I'm excited about the book!

  31. Hey Jodi,
    No worries. It's going to happen to all of us. It's going to hurt, but as others have said your reviews are wonderful. I'd encourage you to remember what contests were like and how subjective that feedback was and how it always seemed, to me anyway, that 2 judges loved the work and 1 had nothing good to say.

    If you want to feel better go to amazon and look at reviews for James Patterson, Tess Gerritsen, etc. I'd strive for personal best with each book you write.


  32. Ouch! So sorry... don't let that get to you! You have talent as a storyteller and your novel was beautiful!

  33. If I ever get published, I'm going to refrain from reading too many reviews. And, by the way, I'd let myself cry for a few minutes. It's good for the soul, as long as it's only for a few minutes and then you go on with your life.

    Nope--you can't please everybody. But there's so much to like in your book that I was able to enjoy it, even if it's not my favorite genre.

    As writers, I suspect it may be polite to keep quiet rather than tear each other apart--professional courtesy and all that. I do think that it's always fair for a reviewer who isn't a writer--just a reader--to voice honest opinions. Honest reviews keep the book world lively and engaging.

  34. You have the best posts, thank you! <3

  35. Nice balanced thoughts! I just read some negative review of Charles Dickens in light of the Oprah announcement, so it really does happen to everyone. and you're right...we all perceive the world differently and will do the same with books.

    And just because it should be said..I loved your book!

  36. My opinion is to praise God that we have freedom of speech.

    As a believer, we MUST learn to deal with the good, bad, and ugly. People are watching. If the reviewer was hateful, I'd pray for her and otherwise zip my lip. It's so hard not to share tidbits with friends.

    As you state a bit differently, what goes around in this little CBA circle. There's nothing to be gained (in my opinion) by EVER criticizing a writer's work. But I've been preaching this story for a long, long time...since it happened to me!
    Another lesson? Limit the time you spend on review reading, period.
    The good ones can unnecessarily puff. The bad ones can unnecessarily prick.

    Blessings, dear one.

  37. Ouch! Hugs to ya.

    I have vowed to never read reviews of my work. I told Husband it's his job.

    The feedback and rejection-love are enough harshness.

    Don't take it personally. Obviously, you weren't this person's cup of tea.

  38. Unfortunately reviewers aren't necessarily endorsers. The purpose of their review is supposedly to give an honest opinion, be that favourable or not, but some do seem to be critical most of the time. Those ones don't have much credibility with me.

    I wonder if this reviewer misunderstood the age group the story is aimed at, or its genre... if the cover's bonnet image gave the impression the romance aspect would be more *Amish* in nature. It's the only thing I can think of that would explain the reaction that it was too "steamy".

    Negative comments are hard to take, but I think you've handled the situation very well. Going on the defensive would only draw attention to that one review. Anyone looking for reviews can see it's outnumbered anyway. :)

  39. I think I hit the "enter" key too soon! That's my Anonymous comment at 4:43, Jody. Sorry.

  40. You're right, you can't be all things to all people. Not everyone is going to like what you wrote, but if makes you feel any better. I loved your book and read it all in two days.

  41. Have somthing that you can chew on. When I read books, I usually do reviews and post them and then read the reviews by others. Last time, I wrote a shining review and was shocked to see a very bad one. I really don't think she read the book.


  42. Jody, excellent post and amazing composure on your part. Way to go girl!

    I'm in the camp that you mentioned: "we would do well to keep in mind the principle of doing unto others what we want them to do unto us."

    I've posted reviews about books that I didn't like, but instead of bashing it I shared the positive attributes of the book and what DID work for me as a reader. Maybe I gave it a 3 out of 5 stars, but I still found something good to say (otherwise I won't post a review). And as writers, we're all in this together.

    "Maybe both are right—right about what works for them."

    Yep, as with many things...amen, sista. Keep doing what God has called you to do and He'll take care of the rest (He already has with your debut!). Thanks for this post...that took some guts.

  43. I enjoyed how openly you discussed this particular review. I believe that if a book has structuring issues, storyline issues, character issues, etc. that should have been remedied and are not just there because the author 'liked' them, then yes, we, the readers, should voice our disappointment. After all, we are the ones buying the book.

    Now, if it's a whole different system of belief you follow, then why would someone read the book in the first place?

    There are so many problems plaguing the publishing world nowadays that writers/authors/readers need to be aware of. If a story is junk on the page (poorly written and yet published) then the reading public should be made aware. It's like any job, if the work is done poorly then why should it be rewarded in any way?

    Chin up, though! One bad review is just one person's opinion. Take what they say, analyze it as you did, and then move on!

    ♥ Mary Mary

  44. I always love your posts so much because they give me a feel for what I'm in for when my first book hits shelves in August. The negative reviews are the thing I'm DREADING to the point that I joked with one of my agencymates that I'm going to ask her to read all reviews before I see them and weed out the negatives.

    Your tips are excellent, and I'll have to keep them in mind as I prepare for my turn. Thanks again!


  45. Steamy? Your book?

    Great read? Yes.

    Chocked with interesting little tidbits that made me research your history? Yes.


    I must have gone to the bathroom during that part of the book.

    Whatever the negatives, you seemd to have handled it well. Nice job!

  46. Yes, I agree, despite the initial sting, you seemed to handle this well and think it through! And wow, one calls your book "steamy" while another says just the opposite. Reading and reviewing are so subjective! And nope, you can't please everyone (like you, I want to, though).

  47. You're handling this with a lot of honesty and grace.

    I wanted to tell you I'm halfway through your book. Before now, I've read TWO whole Christian novels (and started a third I never finished). In reading your book, I've realized that not only am I unfamiliar with Christian fiction, I don't know much about romances, either. I've read books with romance, but I don't know if I've read many "pure" romance before.

    Your story is very tender and sweet. I keep thinking of you as a mother with your children and all the balls you keep Elizabeth. :)

    It's been so fun to experience the process alongside you and now hold your book in my hands.

  48. Probably best that you didn't say anything. Who was it you were truly being baited by??? Hugs... :O)

  49. I say, thank heaven there's a great variety of literary talent out there - something for everyone. I guess your book isn't for him/her, but look how many people it IS for! I'm glad you didn't respond. It's better that way.

    I personaly try not to publicly say anything negative about books. If I don't like one, I simply remove it from my list, but I do appreciate a tasteful, honest opinion - even if it's not a favorable one.

  50. This "reviewer" sounds like a prude, a conclusion based on the few quotes you mention here. If almost everyone likes the book, then one person's opinion is just that (what you said)--opinion. Just keep writing the way you've been writing. For me, your book was a page turner, and obviously it was for many, many others. We really can't ever please everyone!!!

  51. Thank you for sharing such a tough moment in your life. Your grace in how you handle this situation helps us all.

    I personally would not say anything and tell myself that we all have different tastes and that my story obviously wasn't for them. I would try to concentrate on those who had good things to say and continue to work on my craft.

  52. One reader told me she hated the protagonist of my book. Another told me she loved him and couldn't wait to read more about him. The cliche is "it's all one person's opinion." But it's also the truth.

  53. I'm so impressed - you've used such grace and positivity to handle a difficult situation like this. I'd probably be having a tantrum. LOL

    Thank you so much for posting this, it's reassuring to know that everyone deals with this at one time or another. :)

  54. Thanks for posting this, Jody. You are a brave writer. A tight hug from me. I am glad that you didn't react, your intrinsic grace and charm will be a fitting reply. Its just one person's opinion, and she is entitled to it.

    Think of all the people your book connected with. It will cheer you up.

  55. I think you are handling it all with grace. I know I would have a difficult time with this,and hope I could handle it so well.
    And I guess I am not a modest lady afterall, according to the reviewer. I must remember that one can not be both modest and passionate;)

    Oh, and my mom just finished your book and LOVED it!

  56. Jody, I wrote a long, heartfelt response to your post the day you published it, and there was some kind of stupid glitch and I lost it all, and had to get to work...

    But I loved it, and I think you were right to not engage with that reviewer.

    Kiersten White's latest blog entry is on the same topic. I thought of you when I read it:

    Take care!

  57. You handled this subject so well. I know I'll be huddled on the floor in the fetal position when I get my first bad review! I'm bookmarking this post!

  58. Hey kellye,

    What a bummer you lost your first comment! I hate when that happens!And thanks for the link to Kirsten's article. Was a good perspective. I'm not sure that I'm at the point where I won't read reviews. I still try to make a point of getting around and thanking reviewers for taking the time and effort to write something up about my book. I actually really like to interact with readers. But. . . I'm sure that at some point, I'll probably need to back off. Maybe I'll make it my goal with my next book not to read any reviews! We'll see! :-)

  59. I have a problem with people (who are not book critcs) posting negative reviews. I have a book blog and I only post book reviews for books I'd recommend. People never ask me which books I've read that I hate. Why would I publicly critcize an author? What does that gain?

    It's always hard to remember all the glowing reviews in the face of the bad. It's human nature. But at the end if the day, pull out all of the positive reviews and letters and know that if you've touched one person you did your job.

    You certainly did that.

  60. I'm sorry to hear this, and I think you're handling it like a champ. No one wants to hear something negative about their work. It's so personal to us. It's like someone telling us they don't like our child.

    I'm also of the "if you can't say something nice..." camp. That's what my mom taught me, it's what we teach our children, and I'm sticking with it.

    We do seem to pay more attention to the negative, but I hope you'll rest easy knowing how many people (including me) LOVED your book.

  61. Jody, Thanks for your response! The comment I wrote to you and lost was LONG, so I don't know if it was the universe sending me a message or what? :-) Anyway, I did like Kiersten's response on her blog, and I know that that would be extremely difficult for me to have the attitude. (Good for me to hear it expressed...much more difficult for me to put it into action, but good for her!) I hope I'm in a position some day to get reviewed, and then I know I won't be able to resist reading them, and I know even the slightest negative thing--though to be expected--will sting (or worse). I love your blog, plan to read your novel and just wanted to say that I thought you handled this really well!

  62. A little late commenting...but I do refrain from posting negative reviews because if I didn't like a book and others did like it, then I know that the book just didn't suit my tastes. I was asked to review a book recently, and the book bored me to tears. So my daughter asked to read it, and she loved it. So my posted review will be that the book was not my kind of book, but my daughter loved it. I also purchased a book from Amazon recently, and I totally hated the way the book was written. Yet, I will not post a negative review because, again, that is only my opinion of the book, so there is no point in killing an author's spirit over it.

  63. It's interesting isn't it how we pay more attention to the negative review. Maybe that's because we learn more from something that doesn't simply pat us on the back and say well done. I was outraged by my first negative review, ranting to my other half - "this guy can't possibly have read the story I wrote!" This view was backed up by the positive reviews the short story received, but that one negative review really niggled. Eventually though, I was drawn back to look more closely at what the reviewer had commented upon. It was clear that he had skimmed the story rather than read it, but there was one point that made me think, hey maybe I could have fleshed that out a bit more. His negative comments made me think more about my writing that all of the positive ones.

    The most important thing I learned was that once it's published you have to let it go. My grandfather used to say "never ask the question if you're not prepared for all the answers". He was right. So now, before I let my story go I ask myself if I'm ready to face all of the responses, if I'm not then my story isn't ready.

    Thanks for sharing.

  64. Great advice, Jamie. We probably shouldn't let our stories head out there unless we're prepared for the responses we're going to get, both the positive and the negative!

  65. As an occasional reviewer on my own blog, I find there's always something positive to say about a book. There's also issues around subjectivity. Of course, reviewers are as subjective as the rest of us and occasionally that shows up where it shouldn't.

    At the end of day, like you said, you can't please everyone. Whenever I write something that someone else hates I ask myself whether I was happy with it before the destructive comments. In those cases I value my opinion much more than someone else's.

  66. Fabulous advice. Personally, I never write anything bad about a book. If I didn't like it for whatever reason, I keep that to myself. There's no point in upsetting an author, and possibly accidentally insulting her editor, agent, publisher, etc. I've gotten both great and bad reviews for my erotic romances, but negative remarks stick out and replay over in my mind way more than the good ones do. I try to remind myself that other people like it, and move on ;) Great post!

  67. Of course it hurts us, however, I think of famous people, like Presidents, Oprah, movie stars, who get tons of negative comments. So my opinion is to think of yourself as famous, and people are jealous.

  68. Seriously? I don't get some people and I always say, "They have the right to be wrong" :P. My review is the only one that matters and you passed with flying colors LOL *hugs*

    When I read reviews I look to the percentages. If there are 20 reviews that say it is great and one sour-puss, then that person is probably an anomaly with a too-tight-fitting bra, which makes her grouchy and spiteful. Either way, your writing moved her enough to take time to write a review...some powerful writing ;).

    So you want I gather up some angry horror writers and locate this person? :D



  69. Personally, as a writer and a blogger, I think "keeping quiet" about a bad book is the most selfish thing you can do as a reviewer. You rob the author of genuine feedback about their flaws, which - if the writer is any good - should lead to awareness and improvement; you're not making your readers aware of flaws that the may not enjoy, which could have warned them away from spending money and time on a book that they're not going to enjoy; and it's rather unfaithful to your own opinions and professional ethics.

    And yeah, it stings as an author the first time you get a bad review. But like the pain of getting a shot, it's good for you.

    It is not "mean" to give a bad review, and it doesn't make the review grouchy, spiteful or cruel. As long as they make their points civilly and make it clear that they've actually read the book, reviews can only be positive - whether they're negative or not.


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