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Help/Advice/Ideas! > How To Regard Bad Reviews

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message 1: by Will (new)

Will Gibson | 7 comments How To Handle A Bad Review of Your book

Nothing is more painful than finding a poor review among your otherwise excellent reviews of your book, especially if you are an emerging author. It can be very infuriating, but don’t allow it to be. For your goal should be to unveil your work to the world, which invariably will invite unflattering reviews by readers who may not like or understand what you have written. This is unavoidable and is particularly true of novels, where appreciation on the part of readers is highly subjective.

For instance, take my novel THE BISHOP’S GRANDDAUGHTERS which is about a courageous lady preacher whose religious faith must carry her through many serious challenges, including the possibility that her beloved grandfather, an esteemed bishop and founder of her church, was involved in a grisly double murder before she was born. My novel is women’s fiction, with a murder mystery element. I tried to be bold and mix genres, but apparently I had to pay a certain price for doing so.

While THE BISHOP’S GRANDDAUGHTERS got high praise from readers familiar with my novels, some fans of the thriller and murder mystery genres were disappointed in my work, because for them it simply didn’t read like the genres they thought they were getting. In other words, my novel didn’t meet their genre expectations. One disappointed reader lamented, “I expected so much more to this story. It dragged in the middle and I began to lose interest. I continued to read only because I had grown fond of the main character. Not sure if I will read more from this author.” Sadly she was talking about me.

Of course she was disappointed in my novel; she had expected something more heavily plotted and that moved more swiftly, the requirements for a good murder mystery. Therefore, as the author who was writing a literary novel in the form of women’s fiction, I owe that disappointed reader an apology for causing her to buy my book thinking it was a fast-paced murder mystery. It was not intended to be a murder mystery, and I knowingly took that risk. Yet I found positive things in that bad review that made me smile. The unsatisfied reader admits in her review that she became very fond of my main character. That is no minor admission, for I can take solace in the fact that I must have done something right in developing my central character.

Regarding another novel of mine, LOLA & THE WORLD OF BUDDY SHORTT, after tearing my novel into shreds, a disappointed reader closed her review by saying this: “With that said, I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the story. Mr. Gibson is a gifted storyteller; I was completely floored by the richly detailed world he wove. Each turn of the page, each word lodge itself in my psyche. It was one of those books that lingers after the last word is read. It’s not a conventional love story by any means but that does not lessen the impact. Lola & The World of Buddy Shortt is an exercise in humility--in both love and the decisions we are forced to make along this journey of life. Good job, Mr. Gibson.”

Again, from the author’s point of view, this admission is no small thing. Because we often give more stock to the praise of our critics than we do our friends, we should relish the positive comments in a bad review, and let them help us be better writers.

Will Gibson

message 2: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Bender | 2 comments I completely agree. If a reader takes the time to write review,especially one with thought, then there may be a morsel of information that can help you to improve your writing. This includes bad reviews, you just have to be able to dig out the parts that are legitimate criticism.

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