Episode 3: Handling Negative Book Reviews (Authors Attacking Reviewers)

All Freelance Writing Podcast - Episode 3 - Dealing with negative book reviews - with Guest Co-host Princess Jones

Note: This episode contains profanity.

My first guest co-host, Princess Jones, joins me in this episode to discuss negative book reviews and how authors sometimes react poorly by attacking the reviewer. We share a few extreme stories as cautionary tales and offer tips on how you can keep your cool if you get negative reviews of your own books.

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In This Episode

Here's what you'll find covered in this episode:

  • A discussion with guest co-host, Princess Jones, about negative book reviews
  • Examples of cases where authors behaved badly, attacking book reviewers
  • Parallels between the author review situation and how some bloggers handle criticism (hat tip to Judy Gombita who passed along the blogger example discussed)
  • The difference between comments you find upsetting and true bullying (and why you shouldn't confuse the two)
  • Tips on dealing with negative book reviews without making a total ass of yourself like some of the authors discussed did

Author Examples (How Not to React to Negative Book Reviews)

The following authors were used as examples in this episode:

  • Kathleen Hale -- the issue of stalking reviewers
  • Chris McGrath -- suing over negative book reviews
  • Emily Giffin -- having others fight your battles (and the risks your biggest fans can pose to your reputation)

Tips on Dealing With Negative Book Reviews

  • Never, and I mean never, try to track down personal information about book reviewers in order to confront them.
  • Don't read reviews at all if you can't handle potential criticism.
  • If you're feeling emotional, keep your mouth shut.
  • Better yet, always keep your mouth shut when it comes to negative reviews. The best response is no response.
  • If you have a difficult time separating your personal identify from your books (and criticism of them), consider writing under a pen name.
  • Never post about a negative review on social media. Even if you don't outright encourage fans to comment or attack the reviewer, you know damn well you're going to incite that kind of behavior. Don't.
  • Have a communication / PR plan in place before releasing your book so you know what actions are and aren't appropriate when building your brand. Then stick to it.
  • If a negative review violates a site's terms of use, report it to the site's management for removal instead of confronting the reviewer (and keep your cool when you do).
  • And as Princess sums it up nicely, "don't be crazy."

Key Takeaways

  • Nothing you say online can ever truly be removed. You can't take back what you said in the heat of the moment.
  • Most negative book reviews will fade into obscurity, unless you bring added attention to them.
  • Dealing with book reviewers poorly can hurt your career, not only by alienating other readers, but by making you look like a difficult author to work with. If your hope is to go from indie publishing to traditional publishing, you can't afford to build that kind of reputation.
  • Reviews are where your readers get to express themselves. You express yourself in your book, on your blog, and on your own social media accounts. Reviews are not an invitation for you to respond. And while you might have a right to respond, you will almost always be the one who comes out looking badly because you, as the author with a fanbase, are the one in a position of power.
  • Just because you take something personally, it doesn't mean the comments were personal. That personal reaction is completely on you. Remind yourself that these reviewers do not know you. Well, unless it's a scathing review from your mom. Then, sure, take it personally. (And let us be flies on the wall this Thanksgiving dinner.)
  • One negative book review won't end your career. But one stupid reaction from you can.

Get Your Writing Questions Answered

The All Freelance Writing Podcast is largely a listener Q&A show. So I'd love to hear your questions about freelance writing, blogging, or indie publishing. Because there were no reader questions in this episode due to the longer chat with my guest, the episode on December 4th will be completely Q&A based. I'll answer the blogging-related questions that came in as entries for Episode 2's giveaway. If I have time, I'll answer any other blogging-related questions that come in between now and then as well.

If you'd like me to consider answering your question in a future podcast episode, you can contact me in three different ways:

  1. Email me at jenn@allfreelancewriting.com.  Include the phrase "Podcast Question" in your subject line to make sure the email is filtered correctly so I don't miss it.
  2. Submit your question through the contact form on this page.
  3. Leave me a voicemail by calling 484-575-1345. You'll be directly connected to voicemail. Please note that if you leave a question via voicemail, I might play that voicemail during a future episode if I'm able to answer your question.

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