4 Reasons Authors Should Stop Worrying about Bad Reviews

a scattering of open booksIt’s hard, I know. You’ve put your blood and soul and intellect into a novel, and now some half-educated miscreant is trashing your book online. In fact, it doesn’t even sound like your novel. It’s a mashup of your book, The Hunger Games, and last night’s episode of Glee. It’s tempting to respond, at least to clear up misconceptions (“this novel doesn’t have singing teenagers fighting to the death in a dystopian future”). Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t.

1. These reviewers have nothing better to do with their time than read books they hate.

If the world were full of sensible people, there would be no 1-star reviews. Readers would realize, after 5 or 20 or 50 pages, that they hate the book, and they would move on to something else. But no. These people are compelled by the book gods to continue reading or else be condemned to the purgatory of not knowing how it ends. (For the love of LaToya, just read the last page if you must know.)

We all have a limited amount of time on earth, and we never know how much is left. If these people aren’t sensible enough to realize their time is better served doing something they love rather than something they hate, why should you care what they think?

2. Bad reviews prove that people you don’t know are buying your books.

When readers see nothing but 4- and 5-star reviews, they wonder if all of them come from family and friends. They don’t trust those ratings. Books that are widely read will have a range. A one-star review adds a sense of authenticity. It shows that someone you don’t know has read your book, even if that person is clearly deranged.

3. People who write ranting reviews are clearly deranged.

If you’re walking down the street, and you see someone shouting and flailing their arms, do you stop to listen? Or do you discreetly walk (or run) to the other side of the street?

Maybe a few people will enjoy the spectacle and make snarky remarks. But anyone who takes the words to heart is likely also deranged. You don’t want these people reading your book, because they will also leave ranting one-star reviews. Better that they are warned away.

Clever people, on the other hand, will recognize the text in all caps and the overuse of exclamation points and the questionable syntax as signs that the reviewer’s opinions have no merit. Laugh along with them, and move on.

4. People who leave angry one-star reviews are your bitch. 

You’re an author. Your words have power. Sometimes, they’ll evoke strong emotions in a reader, and the reader won’t like that. Because these readers are too weak to cope with those emotions in a positive and healthy way, they say ugly things about your book on the Internet. But make no mistake: you have the power in the relationship. Don’t give that up by letting their words hurt you. The proper reaction is “Dance, puppet, dance!” followed by a villainous laugh. Then, go write another book.

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