Top Ten Things Not to Do If Your Book Gets a Negative Review

Here is the 36th installment of Ten Top Lists of What Not to Do by Marie Ann Bailey of 1WriteWay at and John W. Howell of Fiction Favorites at These lists are simu-published on our blogs each Monday. We hope you enjoy.
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10.  If your book gets a negative review, do not read the review, especially if the rating is one star.  At best, the reviewer will admit the review is based on having read only a couple of pages of your book and you can chide yourself for even bothering to read one word of the review.  At worst, you will read the review so many times  you can quote it by heart, begin to believe it, and eventually get one star tattooed on your back to atone for imagined errors in your career choice.

9.  If your book gets a negative review, do not respond to the review in any way.  If you do, at best, the reviewer will ignore your comments and let others decide if you just have a case of sour grapes.  At worst, the reviewer will take great delight in responding to your comments, goading you into an outraged frenzy whereupon the website will block you from seeing any more reviews.

8.  If your book gets a negative review, do not search for and then comment on other books that the reviewer has reviewed.   Even if you have read those books, at best, you will be taking precious time away from your writing just to get even with the reviewer.  At worst, the reviewer will realize it is you and seek a court injunction on the grounds that you are unstable as evidenced by you spending so much more time reviewing other books rather than writing one.

7.  If your book gets a negative review, do not ask your family or friends to target the reviewer with their own commentaries.  If you do, at best, the reviewer will just ignore them and eventually they will lose interest.  At worst, they will all end up in an unsightly battle of words and then they will all get banned from the website and your family and friends will turn on you like a wounded Leopard.

6.  If your book gets a negative review, do not assume a false identity and write reviews of your book to counter the negative review.  If you do, at best, no one will know it’s you and eventually you will just feel as if you are a loser. (You think?). At worst, someone will uncover your identity and both you and your book will be pulled from the websites, leaving your readers to think you’ve been arrested or kidnapped..

5.  If your book gets a negative review, do not start a campaign against negative reviews, using the negative review as an example.  At best, the campaign will quickly fizzle out as so many do without the reviewer ever knowing about it.  At worst, the reviewer will see your campaign and accuse you of libel, slapping you with a lawsuit so expensive  you will be doomed to write PR copy for the Russians full time for the rest of your life in order to pay it off.

4.  If your book gets a negative review, do not think that you should suddenly switch genres just because one reviewer doesn’t “get” your book.  If you do, at best, you might discover writing erotica causes you to take too many breaks during the day so you can try out scenes with your significant other and so your productivity suffers.  At worst, you might discover that while you may now enjoy writing erotica, you can’t get your children’s literature agent or any publisher’s interest in your new book.

3.  If your book gets a negative review, do not take the reviewer’s advice to quit writing and take up dishwashing as an occupation.  At best, the long hours at the sink will only cause your imagination to go into high gear and you’ll be back to writing within a few days.  At worst, your brain will turn to mush from the boring drudgery and by the time you can retire from said occupation, you will have forgotten how you got stuck as a dishwasher in the first place.

2.  If your book gets a negative review, do not think one bad review trumps all your positive reviews.  If you do, at best, your faithful readers will not mind you’ve suddenly changed narrative styles because you are talented in any style you choose.  At worst, you will find yourself writing only for the one reviewer who really doesn’t care about you or your books anyway, and your readers will have to organize an intervention to keep you from reading any more negative reviews.

1.  If your book gets a negative review, do not stop writing.  If you do, at best, you will suddenly have more time on your hands than you know what to do with.  At worst, you will disappoint your readers and they will accuse you of emulating J.D. Salinger, which of course you cannot afford to do until you actually become J.D. Salinger.

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41 thoughts on “Top Ten Things Not to Do If Your Book Gets a Negative Review

    • Yup, and sometimes those reviews are written by people who simply don’t like the genre, which is no reason to leave a negative review.

  1. Really? A one star review. Just for the discipline of finishing a novel the author should get at least 2.5 stars! I mean, have you ever written a novel? ought to be the question to ask the one star reviewer.

    • Indeed! And thank you for your comment, Carol. I frankly don’t see the purpose of a 1-star review, except perhaps to be mean. From what I’ve seen, people who leave 1-star reviews tend to just trash the novel in a way that doesn’t even help the reader decide whether she or he would want to read it. I usually flag those reveiws as “Not Helpful” 🙂

  2. Loved this! Especially the picture. haha I only review if I took the time to read the whole book, but yeah, there are so many people like that out there.

    • Thank you for reading and commenting! I agree with you. I won’t publish a review unless I’ve read the whole book. If I don’t like a book well enough to finish it, then I’m certainly not going to bother writing a review.

    • Thanks, Linda, you’ve shown you can manage negative comments very well. (It still surprises that anyone would bother to complain about a post, especially one written with a great deal of humor.) Actually, if you do write a book and get negative reviews, I would urge you to respond because your retorts are so often so funny and so spot-on 🙂 And then you’d have another book 😉

  3. For some reason, no 6 is giving me a mental image of me wearing a glasses and a false moustache to write great reviews of my books… and I’m kind of tempted!

  4. I need to hurry up and write something so it can get a bad review and I can practice not responding. This topic comes up more and more on WordPress, though never as amusingly as today.

    • Oh, thanks, Eric 🙂 You should publish some of that “bad” fiction you had on your blog a while ago … although you’d still probably get 5 stars 😉

  5. Reblogged this on Chronicles of a 40-something Former Nurse Wannabe and commented:
    From personal experience, do not send your Street Team to harass ANY reviewer, “dislike” or “vote down,” and/or leave “helpful comments” for the reviewer. Do not post an angry rant on your Facebook page or blog, decrying negative reviews. Say nothing. Do nothing. It all reflects back on the author and her/his good/poor judgment.

  6. This is very sensible advice. My book ‘comes out’ or is published on the 19th March and will be available on Amazon, and I fear some unfavourable reviews are inevitable. I am not looking forward to them, but they remain likely in any case. Ignoring them is the best advice which you underline so well

    • Thank you, Peter. I cannot imagine your book eliciting any negative reviews. If they do happen, then I would just assume that the reviewer did not read your book 🙂

  7. This is great. Really wonderful. It’s true in a more general way of all rejections in the field of one’s passion.

  8. Very good advice! I haven’t written that book yet but I can see how it address all the problems one can face when dealing with a negative review!

            • I can understand someone wanting to discuss your work with you directly, like through email or FB, but not if all they are going to do is slam your work. Frankly, I think people who write one-star reviews need to get a life.

              • I think 1-star reviews do serve a purpose if a person truly doesn’t like the book. There’s always going to be someone who needs that level or something that deserves such a rating. It’s inevitable. It’s when the reviews are made on something beyond the actual work that it gets weird. For example, I’ve seen some 1-star reviews of products on Amazon because of a delivery problem, which isn’t the products fault.

                Though with private emails and messages, many times it’s someone wanting to complain. A lot of people think they can contact an author to demand that they change the story to what they believe it should be. Most times this boils down to they want you to write a series that they already read.

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