Negative Reviews: Do You LOL or Cringe?

If you’ve published, whether self-pub, indie, small press, or big press, odds are you’ve received the dreaded negative review. Some are cruel and seem amazingly poised to do nothing other than be hurtful, while others may be negative but give constructive criticism in a way that can be used. Then there is the author review of a book, and those ones drive me to the point of madness.

Example of reviews:

Cruel: This book reeked of 5th grade writing. No wait, my 5th grader could compose something better than this mess. Do not read this book. Just don’t.

Negative: I loved the concept of the book but it didn’t seem to deliver on the hype. There were too many questions left unanswered: how did the killer know the families since the story line said the killer knew the families he stalked. Never got about to why, so I felt a huge chunk was left out.

Negative/Constructive: Though the story was great and beautifully written, I was upset that the connection between the killer and the families was never made. The plot was intriguing, and this certainly was a page turner that kept me up at night, but it would have been near perfect had the connection between killer and the families been made. Certainly an author to keep my eye on.

The author review: The tag was catchy, but once I got into the book the onslaught of writing errors ensued. We are dropped into a detective’s office that had zero, zilch, nada in the way of scene set-up or characterization. Scene transitions dragged and there were so many places just creating a new chapter would have been more effective. The use of scene breaks was trite, and should never be used in a manner to change point of view. The paragraphs were long, and the author did much more telling than showing which is just ineffective writing at its finest. The story arch left much to be anticipated, but the climax didn’t deliver to a point where I was riveted. Author’s voice was jumbled in the characters, and he might as well had just made himself a character instead of sitting front row of third person omniscient. There was nothing about this that stood out, except that it would be great for kindling a fire on a cold night.

a4So I pose this question: How did you react to your first negative review? I find some to be laugh worthy and others make me shake my head at the verbal cruelty. Did you learn from negative reviews? And what advice would you give to new authors who have yet to see the dreaded 1 star? And if so inclined, go ahead, post the worst review you’ve seen…its actually helped businesses who got bad reviews on Yelp get more business.

Tania L Ramos, RN and Author
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