Since it is her birth month, I thought I would start this post by showering my content editor with love. Kelsey has been my friend for over 10 years and has always listened to my story ideas. Every writer needs a friend who willing beta reads and offers constructive criticism. I just happen to be blessed with a friend who does both those things and survives off the river of blood that is editing ink. For real, if she is reading a chapter and thinks she hasn’t made enough edits/comments, she will start over and add to what she’s already done.
Then after she gives me the edits, she will call to make sure that she didn’t make me cry with her harshness.
She hasn’t, yet.
But she has been there when I nearly have cried from terrible reviews. One time I received 3 in one week. Which brings me to my actual topic of conversation: Dealing with Negative Reviews.
Leaving Negative Reviews
First, before talking about reacting to negative reviews, let’s cover some etiquette when leaving negative reviews. I don’t mind negative reviews as long as they tell me what I did wrong. Were there plot holes, bad character development, lack of descriptions (but do not tell me anything grammar or spelling related if it posted on a writing website). If you can tell the writer what it is that they did wrong, they can take that and make their next work better. If you leave a review that just says, “Terrible book”, that doesn’t give the writer much to go off of.
Also, if the review is for a writing website, try to contact the writer first. This gives them the opportunity to change before you destroy them.
Reacting to Negative reviews
First I feel hurt and reread the review just to make sure I understand it. Then I message Kelsey to see if there is any validity to the review. After all, she has read the whole thing and might see where the reviewer is coming from.
If she is unable to figure out what the review is talking about, or if there is just no constructiveness to the review, she will then figure out all the reasons why the reviewer is in the wrong demographic for our readers. This does not make the review disappear, but it does help lessen the sting.
At this point the writer can do one of two things: they can buckle and never write again, or they can take the feedback, make edits, then become successful. I aspire to do the second option.
Basically, negative reviews are going to happen. The internet allows people to post their darkness and feel as though they are getting away with it. Either let it define you, or use it as a step to becoming an even better writer.