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Do Not Engage - How to handle a negative review.

Lately, there seems to be a surge of reviewers being told what they can and can't post as reviews, and when.

A reviewer can post a review of 1-5 stars, whenever they please. They can have any reason for giving

a book any rating they want. Why? Because it's their opinion, not yours, or mine. It's theirs.

The only thing a review should probably avoid, is attacking the author. Because that's just not cool. But no one takes those reviews seriously anyway.

First things first - reviews are for readers, not authors.

They might be posted to your book, but they are there to help other readers know if your book is something they want to read or not. They aren't to boost an author's ego. It's really for the best that people who wouldn't enjoy it don't buy it. The small amount of royalties isn't worth a thousand people buying your book and hating it only to leave those types of reviews.

Reviewers: Always post the reviews you want to post. Stick with your honest opinion and keep doing what you do! EVERY review counts! If anyone gives you crap for it, block their butt.


You message, call, whatever your closest friends and cry about it. You talk about how stupid that reviewers opinion is, and then you suck it up buttercup, and get over it.

What you do not want to do, under any circumstances is engage. Ever.

Many are even of the opinion that you shouldn't even respond to positive reviews.


Ask(demand) that the reviewer take down/change their review.

Tell them they shouldn't have left a review, for any reason.

Down vote their review. (They know it's from you!)

Message them directly over facebook and tell them they are wrong, they suck, or whatever.

Post the review in any public forum, especially to

Harass them in any way, shape, or form.

Send your friends to do any of the above.

What should you do? Simple.


Move on and go find other readers elsewhere. You don't have to go back to that reviewer in the future.

Something to remember: A reviewer's opinion is not wrong, because it's their opinion, not yours or anyone else's. It's an opinion, even if they are trying to make it come across as a fact.

Information is either correct or not, opinions are just how someone felt about something.

Giving a book free because it was an ARC, or a gift, or they won it, or whatever is not a reason to expect a 5 star review.

I know what you're asking. "But Ali, when should I expect a 5 star review? What does an author have to do to get one for sure?"

My answer is simple. You can expect a 5 star review when you write a book, publish it, and some one posts a 5 star review because that is how they truly 100% not uninfluenced by you or anyone, feel that way.

I know that's not what you wanted to hear, but hey. That's life. You aren't perfect, and even if you were, you'd still get a 1 or 2 star eventually. All authors get one at one time or another.

It sucks. I know. I get it, I really do. But all readers will have different tastes and try as we might, it's impossible to cater to them all and make everyone happy.

What can you do with the bad reviews? Learn from them.

Find out what the reader didn't like about your story, was it the fact that it head hopped? (Go back and pick a POV and stick with it.) Or it looked like you typed it with your feet? (Maybe find a new editor.)

Was your protagonist relatable/likable? Was your villain complex or just a lame plot device? (Develop your characters, ALL of them.)

The list could go on and on. But if you have tried and you just can't find anything to learn, forget

about it. Reread your positive reviews, and then go write your next book!

Even my worst review has taught me something.

It just said the back of the book made it sound better than it was.

Okay, that sucks, but I managed to find something to learn from it. (It was hard with so little explanation) But what it taught me was that I should learn to write blurbs in my same writing voice, so it doesn't throw people off, and to make it as clear as possible, without spoilers, but hopefully so it won't give the wrong impression.

Just remember kiddies, a low review will NOT ruin your career, it will not break any chance of your book making it. I can not tell you the number of times I've heard a reader saying they don't trust a book with all 5 star reviews. Why? Because it looks like you bought them. Some shady people have been known to do that in the past.

Why? I'm not sure. I'd rather spend that money on advertising, or food, or something fun, like a new camera lens.

It's not the number of stars that helps you, but the number of reviews.

In the end, take a lesson from J.K. Rowling herself, or even Meridith Wilde. You don't see them crying over 1 star reviews, yet they have them. What are they doing? Getting over it and smiling at the fact that far more people love their books than those who don't.

If you're just starting out, that's cool. You might not have thousands of reviews, but as long as you focus on the good, you will be okay.

The best revenge is to just keep at it, keep doing what you love, and share it.

In the end just remember this: Reviews are for readers, not authors.

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