The Atheist Book Club discussion

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Authors' Section > Authors : How do you handle negative reviews?

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message 1: by Libbie Hawker (new)

Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside) (lmironside) | 5 comments Meh -- I don't care, honestly. Nobody has yet managed to write a book that all readers love. Or even like. Negative reviews are to be expected, and not to be taken personally.

I actually kind of like them, to be honest. Especially the really pissed-off, ranty ones. They make me smile.


message 2: by Naomi V (new)

Naomi V (naomi_v) | 98 comments i don't think that 'best-selling' is any indication that a book is "good." case in point: the last time i looked at the New York Times' best-seller list, the three "shades of grey" books were at the top. good books? not by my criteria. i couldn't even finish the sample i downloaded to my kindle.


message 3: by Libbie (new)

Libbie Hawker (libbiehawker) | 15 comments Hello! This is Lavender (above) under my other author account. This one is more relevant to the group, since I write more atheism-related stuff under this pen name. (My goodness, it gets very confusing trying to write in multiple genres.)

Anyway, I just wanted to add some food for thought to the discussion. Most best-seller lists indicate what sells to the broadest range of consumers...that includes people who do not often read books but who feel they ought to buy that bestselling book they keep hearing about all over the media, since a person really ought to be well-read (I believe this accounts for a good percentage of the Fifty Shades books' sales, since clearly those books aren't selling on literary merit. Oh, how I cringe to think that people who don't often read are assuming reading Fifty Shades will make them "readers" and "cultured.") Some of them, including the NYT list, are calculated based on proprietary algorithms, so who even knows why the hell some books end up on those lists. Since the method is often not transparent, the lists could be spurious for all we know, or self-fulfilling prophecies.

As an author, my goal is not to land a book on a best-seller list (though I certainly wouldn't complain if one did land there...that's a lot of money!) I find awards, even short- and longlists for awards, to be a far better indicator of a book's merit than its presence on a bestseller list. My goal is to win some major awards some day. An even better indicator of a book's quality, to me the reader, is whether people whose opinions I trust recommend it to me. So an even more immediate goal for me the writer is to impress readers and inspire them to recommend my books to other readers.

Just something to think about. As writers we can get so caught up in the romantic fantasy of the movie-land professional writer, whose life is made after he writes that "bestseller," and who spends his time doing book tours where he's fawned over by adoring fans. I recently went to a signing with George R. R. Martin and the poor guy looked like he just wanted to get it all over with and get back to his hotel room and watch some TV and eat a burger.


message 4: by Libbie (new)

Libbie Hawker (libbiehawker) | 15 comments Word up! I got my first two-star recently. I was kind of disappointed they didn't write a review and elaborate on what they didn't like. I enjoy those. I love it when the reviewers get really creative and use pictures and whatnot.

I anticipate the one-stars to come a-rollin' in for Baptism for the Dead. That book is going to piss a few people off.


message 5: by Libbie (new)

Libbie Hawker (libbiehawker) | 15 comments Boo! Well, hey, take heart in the fact that you have anonymous arch-nemeses who will do anything to take you down a peg. ;) That's how you know you've arrived.


message 6: by Naomi V (new)

Naomi V (naomi_v) | 98 comments no offense, but i have written reviews on Amazon of books i've purchased in other places. if my local bookstore would accept my reviews, i'd gladly send them; but they don't, so it's amazon.


message 7: by Libbie (new)

Libbie Hawker (libbiehawker) | 15 comments Arch-nemesis it is!

I've found that anything which is the least bit critical of religion will get those kind of troll-one-star reviews. Some people just can't take the heat.


message 8: by Libbie Hawker (new)

Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside) (lmironside) | 5 comments Hey, it's Libbie, logged in under my other pen name.

Yeah, that old saw. I've heard the "you weren't a serious enough Christian" like a million times.

When you write a book that is critical of something as popular as religion, you must be prepared for all kinds of crazy negative reviews. People feel defensive and they react by attacking you. It's human nature. But you knew that, right?

Hey, C.J. - I am doing a radio interview tomorrow on atheism in literature. You might enjoy it. Check out my blog to get the details on how to hear it: http://libbiehawker.blogspot.com I'm sure we'll probably end up discussing, at least in part, the negative reaction that atheism literature often gets from the general audience.


message 9: by Libbie Hawker (new)

Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside) (lmironside) | 5 comments Yep, and you always will get that same criticism. Take heart: the people who say that to you won't know how wrong they are about you until they lose their faith themselves, and understand what it's like to have been a devout believer who realizes he doesn't actually believe. :) It happens to more of them than they ever care to admit!


message 10: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) Libbie wrote: "Arch-nemesis it is!

I've found that anything which is the least bit critical of religion will get those kind of troll-one-star reviews. Some people just can't take the heat."


It works the other direction as well. Because my book looks like it's promoting Christianity, it got a one-star review from a trolling atheist. Of course, it also got a one-star review from a conservative Christian who read only ten pages. ;)


message 11: by Libbie Hawker (new)

Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside) (lmironside) | 5 comments I just got a two-star on Amazon in which the reader calls my writing style "silly" but is quick to point out that it's not as silly as my name. :D

The important thing to remember is this:




message 12: by Libbie Hawker (new)

Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside) (lmironside) | 5 comments Oh snap.


message 13: by K.C. (new)

K.C. Boyd (kcboyd) | 3 comments This has been an especially helpful post for me to read today. I don't often let negative reviews get me down, but it's hard to not take it personally.

That said, when you're writing about the far right (like I am), there's a powerful, angry voice that's willing to do anything to silence your voice with an utter lack of logic. So, in many ways, the more negative reviews I get, the more I know I'm doing what I should be doing.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Critics are a distraction, but then so is death.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

I take all criticism of my work personally. aut pax aut bellum


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