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January 16, 2012

I feel really fortunate that I’m in a career, finally, where I write whatever I want. Nobody is standing over my shoulder saying “Nope. You can’t say that.”
Well, there are people who say that, but we’ll get to them in a minute.
I give my thoughts, opinions, curse, talk about sex, high heels, and well, be as much of a snarky bitch as I want. I even say “Hello, Mcfly,” cause I think it’s funny and I’m friends with one of the extras (now an author) from the movie. Sometimes I write difficult essays about my past. I do this because I’m a writer. And because I can.
I’ve written two books of essays, released them both this past year and am thrilled to say they’ve been well-received, are selling well, and one, The Mancode: Exposed, even made it into the Kindle Top 100 Paid the first week of January this year.
For the most part, the majority of my reviews are terrific. For the record, I don’t have friends and family review my books. I don’t even ask. Legitimate reviewers (book bloggers, book reviewers, even well-respected journalists, etc. — people I don’t know and have never met) are giving their opinions. And of course, there are people who read the book and post reviews on their own.
I also get lots of people who don’t like, no who hate what I write. Who judge me as I person, based on my writing. And that’s cool. No really, it is.
I love that I’ve made them so hopping mad, so emotionally curled up into a little ball of fury that they write horrible, mean things about ME. That this redhead in a sea of blondes is the target of their vehement rants. Me, this chick that a year ago nobody had ever even heard of before.
It’s awesome.
Now, I don’t react to any of these reviews because A) it would be unprofessional and B) seriously, it’s a waste of my time.
But wait. Is it?
As authors, we put ourselves out there and knowingly or not, are now targets of criticism. Reviews, from readers and reviewers, help others make buying decisions. Like it or not, you and your book are now a product. Most legit reviewers follow guidelines – checking for structure, flow, grammar, editing, formatting, proofreading, etc. while readers general give a gut feel to the work.
Unfortunately, there are also people who regularly give 1-stars for whatever reason. To protect their own favorite authors in some way, because they don’t like you, indie backlash, who knows? Oftentimes, these folks haven’t even read the book (notice it doesn’t say ‘Verified Purchase’) and their reviews are often one line.
So, I’ve come up with what I call The D.I.A.L. Strategy for dealing with these 1-star reviews to help my author friends and readers separate helpful reviews from those that are perhaps just cyberbullies.
1) DEAL: One of my author friends says, STOP. Don’t read anything under a 4-star. It’s bad for the psyche. Another says it’s toxic for your soul and it affects your confidence.
But, is it a waste of time to read them in the first place…really?
No. Listen, we put ourselves out there. Accept that people will hate you for whatever reason. Your hair color. Your eyes. Where you live. People hate that I mention a certain brand of shoes and say “baby.”
So what? Deal with it. Man up.
I don’t mean read it to let it get under your skin and crawl into a trembling hole of freaked out chocolate coma. Ok, well, do that if you must, but then get up and drink some coffee. It’s good market research and demographic data, i.e., people who hate that I say “baby” are not people who will buy my next book.
Good to know. And oh well.
For any creative, should we heed our critics?
2) IGNORE. As a long-time sale rep (fifteen years), I had a proven track record of success. Won lots of awards, trips, bonuses, was promoted to the home office, blah blah. Had decent managers, one great one, several not so great. One not so great got in my car for our first ride-a-long and after our first call together said, “I don’t see what the big deal is,” and put me on performance improvement. (This was after I’d been chosen out of all the top senior reps in the region to work with the international head of the company and had a stellar day just weeks earlier.)
What she said didn’t change a thing about my daily routine (except for a few more inane reports). I still exceeded my quotas and won more awards.
My point is this: everyone is a critic. People who dislike you and even people who think the world of you. Is that feedback helpful? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
Ignore may seem antithetical to my other points but what I mean is don’t let it eat at your soul. It is what it is. These people are not gods. Does their opinion matter that much if you don’t even know who they are? Do you respect total strangers who are saying awful things about you? I know I don’t. 
3) ANALYZE Do I read it all? Yes. I learned, for example, that some people think #hashtags are #typos. People sometimes criticize or judge what they don’t understand. So I added into my introduction an explanation of what hashtags are as well as a quick sentence on my Amazon page. (I even had to explain them to Amazon, but that’s a whole other blog post.)
Someone else said I used cliché “Sex and the City” phrasing in all my essays, which made me laugh since I’m one of the few women who hated that show. Though I did use one example of Carrie in one essay. (And everyone knows she wore Blahniks and I love Prada.)
But that is useful information for future. At some point. Probably. Maybe? 
4) LAUGH What many of these 1-stars write is so off the mark (and I’m not only talking about my books here; I’m very protective of my favorite authors and check their pages often), I often wonder if they read the book I wrote, or if we read the same author’s book.
Clearly many of these folks are on a mission to leave poor reviews for authors that often have nothing at all to do with the content of the book itself. Notice, they are often a single line – a sure sign they haven’t read the book at all.
I wrote last week that it’s important authors (or any creative) surround ourselves with people who support us, but ultimately you have to trust your own voice and vision.
My overall feeling is this: don’t take anything personally.
Writing is an art. Words can be so lyrically beautiful they can make us cry. Or we can disagree in fury. Or laugh til our stomach hurts. Evoking any emotion is the point. Any author lives for that.
Hate me all you want – that’s a pretty strong emotional reaction.
Thank you.
I’m writing my view, my experiences, my truth.
If you want to write your truth, write your own damn book. 

Answer this: What’s YOUR way of dealing with difficult reviews? Comment below, on Twitter, or Facebook. I LOVE comments, opinions, and polite discourse. If you don’t want to be polite, go drink more coffee.  

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  1. Nicely said, baby 😉

  2. Fuck 'em. 

    Wait. Was the mike on? It was?! o.O ~smiles~ 'Criticism is best met with a smile.'

    Xs & Os,
    Dina / Sins of the Eldest Daughter

  3. Amen sistah … preach your Snarkiness and to hell with the 1 line haters. ;p

  4. Thx luv. You got it. It helps to have a strategy, IMHO, when reading this goofy stuff, and remember why we are writers, not this silliness. 

  5. Kill em with kindness my dad always says. He was a store manager for over 20 years for a drugstore chain. In this case, no reaction is better. Not worth the reply. xxoo

  6. Great advice! I'm bookmarking this and I'm going to send the link to several writers I know.

  7. Right on, chica,

    Most negative reviews are simply not my audience, so I shrug them off after I have some whine and cheese.  Anytime you write humor, you're gonna get mixed reactions.  My own rule is to never, ever respond to negativity no matter how much I want to beat a voodoo doll with a tire iron.  Oh wait, that's a mixed metaphor. 

  8. Thx Laura–I sure hope it helps. That's always my goal. I work with so many writers every day & hear this often. Again, I'm not immune. We all have our days. But my gosh, some of them are SO ridiculous. Ya gotta laugh. xo

  9. I love you, Jacquie. You're so right on yourself. It's fun writing humor & being controversial. I accept that about my work & dig it. What angers me is when I see my talented fiction-writing friends who are the target of awful, negative untrue 1-stars. I'm like a cat whose back is raised — #rawr. xo

  10. Oh, I agree with Dad. Completely. And IMOH of course, on odd Sundays when the moon is full and the room is empty, I get to be the bitch. ^_~

  11. Great post. Simply stellar. This is something all authors can learn from… 🙂

  12. Lorcadamon permalink

    I used to go to a website called I even got a premium membership because I liked the website so much. I even had a blog on the website about the autism diet.

    Then one day, I (the new girl) had the NERVE to post a recipe of my own on the site. You would not believe the reviews from people…of a fucking recipe! If you don't like vinegar, why did you cook a recipe with a vinegar based sauce? And duh, can you read? The first ingredient is cabbage and the second is vinegar!!! If you don't think those will taste good together, why did you make the recipe?

    I'm over it. Really.

    My point is people are going to look for opportunities to hide behind the anonymity that comes from writing stuff on the internet. I always read those reviews because maybe there's something to be learned. Well, something other than, “People can be jerks.”

  13. Great advice!

  14. This is a great post.  I've read those 1 Star reviews and as much as I want to reply with something just as mean and nasty…I don't.  Well, not on the site but alone in my office with no one around.  It's sad that people are so mean spirited but you know how it is…crabs in a bucket.  You have more Likers (I know that's not a word) than Haters anyway.  We know you're a rockstar.  The great thing about being Indie is that we stick together. 

  15. Thx Jackie. Crabs in a bucket. Now that's a southern term fo sho.#LUV. But it's not just about me, tho I thank you for the props, honey. I was prompted to write this for the many authors I interact with daily on my stream, the IBC stream, w/ my clients, & my many, many writing friends. It's truly a learning process. xxoo

  16. Thx Darin. Appreciate the visit. 

  17. Someone pointed out that one of the people who hated my book also hated WALL-E. On the same day I watched it with my son. Coincidence? Hmmm. People are so odd. 

    I adore you, Lorca. Big giant hugs. 

  18. Thx Susan. I'm hoping it's helpful for people. None of us is perfect and we all can learn from criticism. But bullies are bullies. Just like what I teach my kids: you get what you give & you give what you get. #karmababy

  19. thedoyle6 permalink

    Some great advice there Rachel. There have been times I have read reviews, for my own writings, even just posts, and from authors that I like/adore. When they are the small minded, one liners that you speak of I have been tempted to return in kind (although more than one line because no one ever accused me of understating anything lol) but have held back for some of the reasons you mentioned and because, well, I am better than that. I myself give my honest thoughts when I review. If I don't like it, for any reason, I say so, but, I do it in a way that an author can read it and either make changes or realize that it just wasn't my cup of tea and not be upset. Attacking an author personally is just a mean, pathetic persons own misery at themselves coming through. Thanks for all the advice and for putting it in your own unique way. I loved it!
    -Dawn aka dawnmomoffour

  20. Julia Rachel Barrett permalink

    Here's how I look at it – a review is from readers speaking to other readers.  I don't take it personally.  A good review makes me all smiley, of course, a bad review is a bit of a Captain Bring-Down, but…shrug.  A critique is a whole other animal.  A critique is what I read to make my writing better.  

  21. This was a great post. I had to come back and comment.  I dealt with my first ego killer person just recently, so this gives me a way to dismantle the bite. Anyway I met my first hater during one of the author events I am doing. The person was on a review team and just didn't connect with the story I guess, but the team was rough on everybody (highest rating was 3.5 stars with every book having harsh comments). Furthermore, the person read a MG/YA story as an adult book judging by the comments made. The person was nice enough not to post to kill the rating, but contacted me instead. Some of the points made just seemed so nit-picky and silly (looking back now). Sure, everyone can improve their craft, but how can dialogue be cliche (what isn't? What does uncliche dialogue look like, especially in a MG/YA book?), and what's wrong with a story reading like an 80's cartoon? What's so “bad” about that?The intended audience loves the story and can relate to it, and 80's cartoons are entertaining, action packed, and exciting with awesome characters (I was a kid in the 80's and watched tons of cartoons), and that age group doesn't really care about that stuff so much. They care more if the story is exciting and that the characters are cool enough to remember or connect to. She mentioned these were things that are “wrong” with the book and it should not have been published. The “should not have been published” part really irked me more than the nit-picking.The storyline was plausible, and nothing was wrong with the editing , formatting ,etc (that's what “wrong” in writing, right?). I didn't think you could do things “wrong” in writing definitely in fantasy or science fiction–especially in the MG/YA arena, and my content editor didn't see anything “wrong” here either. I did everything I possibly could to make it as perfect as possible.

    *Deep breath and rant over* and practicing D.I.A.L., I can just laugh. If that's the worst she can say then that's not bad, and it least it wasn't posted. Not bad at all for a book that was written by a self taught, 16 year old…I know more haters will be on their way sooner or later, so prepped and ready.

  22. Ken Matthies permalink

    “…ultimately you have to trust your own voice and vision”…I love that comment Rachel because it's so absolutely true! Good insights and great comments in this post! I've just recently kicked off my own publishing into the world of Kindle with a truly tough topic for folks to deal with – grief and healing – but you know what? That was my reality at the time so I wrote about it, and there's still a little more of that topic to come before I start introducing characterized real life short stories and my poetry. Okay, so sales are the pits yet for my book and articles already out there and maybe they'll always stay that way for this topic, but my point in saying all this is because that's exactly what I was doing in writing it – “trusting my own voice and vision” as you've so beautifully phrased it. And yeah, that's what we as writers always need to be doing!I don't know if I'm alone out there with what I see as the 'unique way' I receive my inspirations for topics to write about with my own voice and vision…maybe you've got some insight or experiences of your own that would answer the issue for me, I don't know. My Muse has a real sense of humor and tends to be a little parsimonious when it comes to handing out full-blown outlines (let alone full-blown plots) to write about. All he ever hands my heart or my head is one or two words…on really good days it might be almost a whole sentence …and I'm expected to take those little treats and develop them into a full-blown 'somethings' of my own. The interesting thing is that I've always been able to do exactly that – whether in poetry or prose form.So let me ask you Rachel – what is it that inspires your voice and vision as a writer and trips it into becoming the written words you use so well? I'm curious now…you're the first writer I've ever asked this question of.Have a great day and even greater year!

  23. Great post Rachel! I love the D.I.A.L. I think you may be on to something as well with the reviewers protecting their fav authors :). Who says you can' t have more than one favorite though? I also think reviews should be helpful, and never tear down an author so definitely ignore is great!

  24. Chelsea Fine permalink

    LOVE this! Negative reviews are rough…but they're unavoidable. When I get a bummer review, I go to and read until I'm laughing so hard my face hurts. That's how I cheer myself up. But I also try to keep in mind the many readers who LIKE my books. Because THEY are the people I write for–not the haters. 🙂

  25. I'm strongly reminded of the Duke of Wellington's famous put-down: “publish & be damned!” These days it seems what authors are actually damned _to_ is the collective disapprobation of a bevy of semi-literate muppets, whose sole qualification as literary reviewers is that they somehow managed to stretch their intellects to the point where they were able to open Amazon up on the magic interweb box and make some assumptions based on a precis & a cartoon of a red haired woman holding a martini.

    Anyway, if you're got a snappy acronym that's half the problem already solved. Good for you.


  26. Booksavvybabe permalink

    Awesome post, great tips.  I am not an author, but I am a reviewer/blogger, and sometimes I do have to write negative reviews.  However, there is a difference between a scathing, hateful review and a negative one, in my opinion.  I always try to keep an open mind, and explain my feelings and opinions.  It is possible to write a negative review while still being respectful, and hopefully authors are respectful of reviewers opinions as well.  

  27. THX for your comment! I hope I got that across. As authors we love getting negative reviews that offer helpful criticism. You are what helps us improve as writers, in my opinion. Hateful reviews, however? Pft. D.I.A.L., baby. 

  28. The best advice I was ever given was 'Not everyone will like you – and that's OK.' It helped me to recognise early on that people are different, different people like different things, and I'm not going to be one of the things some people like. It doesn't mean there's anything wrong with me, just I'm not their cup of tea (probably they aren't mine either).

    I don't have a book published currently, but I suspect the same advice applies equally to a book.

  29. I loved this article, Rachel. The one-star douches seem to have put a new kick into your writing and the overall tone is very confident and powerful. Very impressed, and I already liked your writing!

    I can't answer your question because I don't have any reviews yet, but I'm thinking that I'll just track down any one-star reviewers and…meh.

    Seriously, REALLY great article. You rock.


  30. No matter how well we write or how creative we are, there will always be someone who doesn't like what we have written.  I will read it, think about it, and then decide if their comments are worth my commenting on.  Sometimes a bad review isn't always a bad thing.  It's always good to have a new viewpoint, but we don't have to accept it, or hate it, just appreciate it for whatever it is. I don't waste my time on cruel people who can be toxic if I allowed them to be, but I do listen and then release it.  If I didn't it would eat me up inside. 

  31. Thx Cindy, appreciate your comments. I fully agree with you. Learn from the criticism, but if it's hateful, let it go. If we stop learning, we stop growing. That may sound trite, but with regard to growing as a writer, I always want to become better. Releasing the toxic people is sound advice! 

  32. THX Landon. It's important to own who we are as writers & not allow the douches (your word:) to change our voice. If I sound more confident in this post it's because I hoped to convey my passion for writing, for authors, and for the hard work we do. That's not to say we should be immune to criticism — not at all. All art is released in order to be received. It's too much to ask some people to respect the hard work that went into it. And that's okay. 

    Not everyone can be as awesome as you, baby. 

  33. Erica Lucke Dean permalink

    If you could see me right now, you would know I'm standing up and clapping. Ok, I'm not standing up…or clapping. But on the inside I am. I'm clapping loud and proud. You are so right. Some people won't love you, we expect that…but why do some people feel the need to be downright mean and nasty just because they didn't enjoy something. I have paid far more to watch a movie (and that doesn't include the popcorn, the drink, and the Twizzlers, I might add) and hated the damn movie. I didn't walk out in the middle. I didn't demand my money back. I just didn't like it. Oh well…all my friends liked it. So maybe I just didn't get it. They didn't get Twilight, and I liked it! (Oh, shut up…you know you like it too) Your books are from your heart…and your funny bone…and if someone doesn't love it, that's ok. They don't have to. I love your books, and your blog, and I'm a pretty good judge of things (even if I do like Twilight) So keep on writing, and keep on telling the critics to bring it…maybe they should leave a link to THEIR books…just to be fair.

  34. Terrific advice, Ciara. So basic and true. Like what we teach our kids, right? Yet, when we put our work out in the world, it's almost like we revert to a child-like state ourselves. Well, except for the vodka. 🙂 

  35. Here's my philosophy – some people will think you suck – no matter WHAT you do.

    Great post – it's always refreshing when people speak honestly about things like this – we women tend to take these things pretty personally and realising that internet haters are a rite of passage makes it easier to deal with.

    xx Denise DT

  36. “One star, worst book ever, stopped reading it, too scary…” Ooops, it was a horror book! LOL, true story.

    Amazon has found *great* products receive mostly five star AND one star reviews. In other words, don't seek a “wider audience with a milk toast three star product. Rachel, you're doing GREAT, crack open the bubbly with each five you get and know your audience **loves** your work, make more.

    With enough haters, you'll be Celebrity famous soon enough. Cheers, -Steve

  37. Great read, Rachel. You're right that everyone is a critic. It's easier to “preach what to do” than to  “actually do.” While others are wasting time giving 1-star reviews out of jealousy or some other inane reason, you're writing and building up your career.  


  38. Thx Erica — mmmm, Twizzlers & popcorn :). Thx for the love. I'm thinking most of the 1-stars haven't written a book? But that's just me. 🙂 I'm okay with that, though. It's easy to criticize what we don't like, even if we're unable to do it. We all have a right to our opinions. That's what is beautiful about our country, not to be all patriotic about it. 

    They can sling it, I can bring it, baby. xo

  39. Thx Denise — I'm ALL about honesty. Both my books are non-fiction and probably what gets people so up in arms, to be honest. My truth is not their truth — yea, so what? That's my point. It seems obvious that we won't agree — but people get VERY upset by it. And I LOVE that I get them to that point. 

    I absolutely agree with you that many women apologize for that or worry about those opinions — I have to thank my critique group of strong female writers for encouraging me to not worry about “what will people think?” and just go with my gut, my voice. 

    Thanks for the visit and I'm heading over to your site to pick up LUCKY BITCH. #woot

  40. Thx Steve. I'm thrilled with every review, to be honest. Even the 1-stars — they add to my overall metamessage of TOTAL reviews which just looks good for me. 🙂 They don't realize how much they help writers with that 3-second glance it takes to hook a reader with that overall number alone. 

    Cheers and thx for the **love** xo

  41. J'adore, Eden. Writing is the thing, right? Back at you, Thin Mint. You're such an amazing role model for all authors, supportive loving person and talented writer that you are. Why are you in Canada? Damn. 

  42. Chels, so true. What a fun, great site to blow off steam. Redirect that negative energy. Luv it! xo and I adore your books. You're so amazingly talented. Keep your vision true. 

  43. Thx BK — I think most legit reviewers (like yourself) are in it to give specific, credible feedback — never to tear down. I've never seen a 1-star from a legit reviewer. Only from readers & usually never a verified purchase….exactly my point. :)) xo

  44. Thx Ken & good questions. Both books had different inspirations. I'm always inspired by the interactions between men and women — that's always my theme. But for A WALK IN THE SNARK, my ex had committed suicide, so as a way to deal with that shock and grief, I wrote about it. (If  you click on the BROKEN PIECES tab here, there are many more essays about him not included in the book). 

    At heart, I'm a non-fiction writer, tho my sense of humor is always brimming, so my MANCODE & CHICKSPEAK pieces are the ones people relate to the most. MANCODE became the focus of my 2nd book, just released in December hit the Amazon top 100 in early January. 

    I'm now working on CHICKSPEAK: UNCOVERED and would like to do something with the more serious pieces at some point. I also write fiction — I'm fascinated by time-travel and paranormal so I'm working on an outline for a story right now. 

    Basically, my brain never shuts off. 🙂 

    Stick to your voice/vision. If sales are slow, work on your platform, blog, social media. Get the word out there. People can't buy what they don't know exists. 

  45. Thx Ken & good questions. Both books had different inspirations. I'm always inspired by the interactions between men and women — that's always my theme. But for A WALK IN THE SNARK, my ex had committed suicide, so as a way to deal with that shock and grief, I wrote about it. (If  you click on the BROKEN PIECES tab here, there are many more essays about him not included in the book). 

    At heart, I'm a non-fiction writer, tho my sense of humor is always brimming, so my MANCODE & CHICKSPEAK pieces are the ones people relate to the most. MANCODE became the focus of my 2nd book, just released in December hit the Amazon top 100 in early January. 

    I'm now working on CHICKSPEAK: UNCOVERED and would like to do something with the more serious pieces at some point. I also write fiction — I'm fascinated by time-travel and paranormal so I'm working on an outline for a story right now. 

    Basically, my brain never shuts off. 🙂 

    Stick to your voice/vision. If sales are slow, work on your platform, blog, social media. Get the word out there. People can't buy what they don't know exists. 

  46. Amanda, that first negative review stings. Vent, have your “whine and cheese” as Jacquie Rogers says, and then laugh. It's your book, your voice, your vision. You're not someone's cup of tea — so what? People hate my guts simply because I mention that I like Prada shoes. Someone said that makes me a “well-off, bored housewife who's never been in a fulfilling relationship with a man.” All from that? 

    I mean, seriously? How can you not laugh? 

    Let it go, sweetie. Not worth your time. If there was anything in there that was useful to your next book, fine. We all can learn. Learning is growing. If not, move on, baby. 


  47. Thx Dawn. I love having reader reviews that are well-thought out, that give specific feedback, even if they hated it. That's helpful. Doesn't mean I'll change a thing or that I agree, but it's good to know. 

    I personally can't reply, but I love when I see other readers come to my defense. It's awesome. For example, one woman was upset by the sarcasm in A WALK IN THE SNARK. Someone responded to her review: You did see that it says SNARK in the title, right? haha 

    I often do that for my author friends, to be honest. Not in a rude, offensive way. But in my snarky, signature way :)).

  48. derp herpson permalink

    What if the review is a positive, thoughtful, three page long run on sentence? Does it count? I mean, I know if it's in caps it doesn't count, because that kind of thing is what we call death-metal, and who writes a review for book in song?

  49. Lance permalink

    excellent response and philosophy

    I delt with some of these same issues when I started writing on the internets six years ago. I didn't handle it well and deleted a popular music blog.

    I think you just have to exude the same confidence that got you this far (congratulations on your success) and keep being true to yourself.

    The simple things we teach our kids – be honest, never lie, don't give up apply to putting yourself out on the web.

    I think you're honest and funny. I enjoy every post.

  50. Well, if it's positive, rock on. 🙂 

  51. I tell my kids every day “you get what you give and you give what you get” so karma, basically. That and “get tired. get real tired.” 

    Thanks for your lovely, kind words. I love your blog now. I'm sorry you deleted your music blog, but clearly you're still awesome. xo

  52. Sonia Rumzi permalink

    Excellent way to deal with inept and banal reviews. One star is a good sign that you are making a difference. They either hate you or love you. That is great! Great post. Thanks.

  53. Thanks lady for the hugs and antiseptic for my hornet sting ;). 

  54. Thx Sonia. Even banal is better than downright haters. But hey, again, it all adds to the overall metamessage for the reader which isn't a bad thing. If the numbers look good, sometimes that's all that matters. xo

  55. Timothyo Casey permalink

    You know Rachel they are just trying to out Snark the Queen of Snark, stinkinh amateurs

  56. I work by the old adage, if you've nothing good or positive to write, don't bother. I don't write negative reviews/posts, not only because of the above phrase but because if I dislike something that much, why waste even more of my time on it.

  57. Great points on keeping it professional. Good post.
    Responding doesn't do any good.
     I DO read all reviews, good or bad. However I tend to take with a grain of salt anything that says a) everything I write is crap OR b) everything I write is absolutely AMAZING. To be honest, neither one is true……..and I think we have to admit that, there are some folks who just don't like stuff. In grad school we read Nobel Prize winning writer XX—and I thought it sucked. Maybe I was stupid. Maybe I didn't get it. Maybe I just prefer different things. Granted, there's no point in being nasty about it, but it's fine if someone said they didn't like my book. But if they said their dog could write better, that's kind of rude. Because I've met their dog. And he can't spell.

  58. Great, Dawn & the dog comment — priceless. So with you on the Nobel prize stuff also. In AP English, many of the books put me to sleep, although several fascinated me as well and I remember today. But you're right — none of us is that amazing we can't learn. 🙂 

  59. Tim, my man. They try, and that is why they fail. 

  60. One of my favorites was a one star on B&N.  He was so engrossed and so vested in the characters he was furious at them and offered advice for their redemption.  Said not a word about style or my motivation.  It was such validation of my character building. I get a couple of bad ones and some of them make me feel bad, but every one has different taste, and the good ones make my heart soar. 

  61. Scott Rhine permalink

    The top two things I learned from negative reviews:
    1) most are not your target audience, and future review requests should make clear things like “this is not a romance.”
    2) look at it at least once with the assumption that “God can even speak out of the mouth of a donkey.” That one time in five it's true, it prevented me from looking like an ass. Most of those folks are in my crit group now.

  62. Jeffbennington permalink

    Great post, Rachel.
    I do read every review and I take my reviews seriously, especially if they are intelligently written by a reader who obviously read the book. There will always be a few that are misserable, and those, as you said, who are clearly on a mission to destroy indie author credibility.

    As a business owner (indie publisher) it is critical to listen to your customer's response to your product. That's how we improve. And yes, I've had a similar thought…”Really, you can do better? Where's your book?” 

    Obviously, I would never, ever respond like that. But authors need to realize that we are on dislay and we should expect criticism. Anyone in the public eye receives criticism. But I have found that the coolest peeps are the ones who brush it off, walk away, and keep smiling. 

  63. Thank you, Rachel.

  64. Julie Catherine permalink

    I really needed to read this – and reading all the comments others made was a big help too.  I'm still in the process of writing my own first novel (a mystery for young adult readers); so am trying to amass as much information as I can before it actually gets birthed to the world.  But I also write poetry; and just recently received my very first really scathing, nit-picking critique that sent me into a teary pity-party where I questioned my ability to write anything at all.  But, I had a long chat with my most supportive friend who is also a fantastic poet – and she helped me to cope with it, having gone through it herself in the past.  So after a day and a half, I was able to dry the tears, take another look at the critique without falling to pieces – and discovered that most of the 'suggestions' are ones that wouldn't work for that particular poem anyway. I would have totally lost my own essence – it would have been the critiquer's (is that a word?) poem then, not mine anymore.  A couple of the suggestions made sense, yes; but the rest I stored away in my wp files for future reference – if I need it.  By the way, my response to the critique was very professional; I thanked him for taking the time to read and critique my poem; and said I would take his comments into consideration as I worked further on it. (I did not say that I would change my poem to suit him, lol.)   Sorry about the length of my response, but you made me feel so much better today!  ~  Julie

  65. Don't be sorry at all, Julie. I'm thrilled my post was here for you today. I also write poetry and can feel your pain. As poets, we're very in tune to the emotion of the moment we're writing about — many times, people simply can't understand where we are coming from because they haven't felt that or they resist feeling that emotion. That's my experience with poetry anyway. 

    Stay try to your vision. Ultimately it's just you and the words. 

  66. I was really kidding at the end (always a kidder) but the sentiment is true in what you said — laugh it off, walk away, keep moving forward. Because honestly, by the time you're getting 1-stars on the last book, the next one is halfway written and you should have moved on. 

    Thanks so much for your feedback, sweets. 

  67. As for point #1, I really am referring to reader reviews, Scott. Most honest reviewers that review books are clearly in the know about HOW to review a book and what genre it is. Reader reviews, I find, are when you see many 1-stars where expectations far outweigh intent. 

    For example, one lady gave my book A WALK IN THE SNARK a 1-star because she felt it was too sarcastic. #ahem. Another sent me an email that the characters and plotting were boring — um, it's non-fiction. 

    That said, if a critique is helpful and valuable, I'm all over it as you point out in #2. 

    But then again, hey. They're talking about me, they bought my book. All reviews count toward that magic overall number. 

  68. That's wonderful to hear, Virginia. That's the emotion you want to evoke. Investment in your characters is the ultimate reward. Rock on. 

  69. Jacqueline George permalink

    I'm past crying over bad reviews. I don't get many, and if some-one doesn't like something I wrote, that's their right.

    What does really piss me off is when a semi-literate lame brain posts a one start comment on Amazon, even if she shows the book was beyond her. Why? Because that affects sales. I reckon you need four or five rave reviews to compensate for one idiot.

  70. Waynekernochan permalink

    Good advice. I learned the hard way 😛

    I just got my first 1 star review and I haven't read it yet

  71. To be honest, I don't agree w/ the math, Jaqueline. I think all reviews help sell your book. Each review adds to your overall metamessage at the top, so let's say you have 50 reviews and that idiot makes it 51…that's a good thing, right? Sure, it lowers your average slightly, but another 4-5star will bring it back up. 

    My thoughts anyway… xxoo

  72. Don't be afraid. Read the comments here. You're bigger than a 1-star review, honey. xo

  73. That's pretty good advice Rachel and a very practical strategy for dealing with cyberbullies. Reviews and critiques are usually pretty good feedback mechanisms. In my case, I look forward to receiving such feedback, both good and bad. However, as you point out, there are some out there who really go out of their way to put you or people in general down – cyberbullies. Constructive criticism is one thing, so are informed opinions which may not necessarily be in agreement with mine, but one line reviews where it's obvious they haven't even bothered to read the book, well there's no value to be derived from those.

    My way of dealing with difficult reviews or critiques more or less follows your DIAL strategy. I analyze it, those with merit I deal with and appreciate as it helps me hone my craft.

    Those that simply come out as malicious and have no value whatsoever, I ignore. In my experiences in life, I've come to learn that there are just certain people who have difficulty dealing with other people's success or good fortune and will do what they can to take those people down.

    Best not to get caught in their trap and ignore them. With that, let me leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Sheldon of the Big Bang Theory, “They were threatened by my intelligence, and too stupid to know that's why they hate me.” Have a stress-free day!

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