Look y'all...just shut up. Did I mention PW liked it

but apparently other people don't. I was afraid of that.*

You have to wonder how people who get huge numbers of stinky reviews for their first book ever manage to keep going. I’m fairly demoralized with two bad reviews and I can’t imagine how it would feel if this was my only book.

We authors tell each other not to check Amazon or Goodreads, and that's good advice -- just because it’s too much work to get back to normal operating speed after being slapped in the face with a bad review. Yes, yes, such an overdramatic response, but any author can tell you--that's how it feels.

Really. It's the feeling, the internal authorial response, that contains the greatest quantity of suckage. The fact of a bad review is out in the world hardly matters. Much. Anyone is allowed to leave bad reviews, for Pete’s sake. I resent my own inability to ignore it. I hate how it entirely unfloats my boat. I get swamped and there are no life vests onboard. (“May day! May day!”) Authors with bad reviews have to spend at least a few minutes running in circles whining and howling -- instead of getting on with life.** 

So okay, maybe there is a teeny tiny bit of resentment sent out in the world and not just swallowed. Last night, for instance, I actually took the time to check out a reviewer's past reviews. I must say that was a smart move. That person hands out enormous numbers of bad reviews, including for Junk, one of my faves, and a K Higgins that I loved. Nothing better than finding yourself in company you admire.

I grew entirely indignant when I saw that huge numbers of one and two star reviews and for books I love--funny that I didn't get that mad about my own. I fantasized about doing dumb internetty mean-girl things****. But wait--no need to administer punishment. That the reviewer spends so much on books she hates, she is already miserable.

Time to retreat back to my own neurotic life and leave the reviewer to hers. Speaking of mine: I'm thinking that responding internally (never externally! never! no lashing out!) to bad reviews needs to have a program. Not 12-steps. More like 2 or 3. This is mostly to stop the author from taking steps that will land her in trouble.

 First you do the visualization of the reviewer as something hideous

Here is an article I wrote about this technique.Visualization plus imaginary responses.

I'm already onto the next step, the "fake it until it’s real" Pretend it doesn’t matter until it doesn’t. In fact writing this out makes me realize that for fuck’s sake, it’s just a couple of reviews, not someone LITERALLY punching me in the gut. 

Hey, I've been published for ten years and don't have a lot of practice with this. Ha! That says something, right?  Right? Right? 



* I worried before it was published. See? 

** Some reviews are easy to ignore. I mean if someone says "too much sex!" or "I hate the gays" or "this is a short story!" I don't even spend a minute fretting. There's a warning about these facts in the description, ya idiot. Others, like the ones I'm currently shaking off? Uh oh. Ugh. Oh, jeez. Oh no. What if they're right? AAaaaaaaaiiiiii.

**** that I would never in a million years do -- and not just because I'm not technically proficient enough to track basically anonymous people on the internet.


  1. At Thrillerfest every year we used to run a fun internal contest: "Who had the worst review?" I think I came in third the year Devil's Gold was released right behind two big name authors. Amazon has taken that review down - I don't know why. It was a pretty damn funny review, but my ability to laugh about it took some time. You know in your heart of hearts that some readers will not "get" you and some will "get" you so well they kinda scare you. You're an amazing writer. Hold tight to that knowledge.

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  3. I'd give you a sloppy kiss, really. I would.

    My favorite bad reviews tend to be the ones that read "this book was too short and I hated it" the old "nasty food and the portions were too small" restaurant reviews.

    A friend has a personal hater, someone who reads every single one of her 40 plus books and writes a "worst book ever!" review for each one. It's clear from the reviews that the hater actually reads the books. She buys them--which, as my friend points out, is the point.

  4. I haven't read this book yet, Kate, but you're wise to ignore your bad reviews. Saying that, I know bad reviews are hard to ignore. I read a lot of books. A LOT. However, I don't write bad reviews even if the book wasn't a favorite. My mom taught me that if you don't have something nice to say, keep your mouth shut lol! Also, I know that just because a book didn't appeal to me doesn't mean it won't work for someone else. There are a helluva lot of NYT bestselling books out there that weren't my cuppa. Hang in there and keep visualizing.

  5. Hey, yeah, the negative review sucks, but think on it for a minute. She thought A LOT about the book and you if she wrote a review. It's nice to be noticed, but preferably with chocolates, wine, roses and 5 star reviews.

  6. One book or bad review does not mean spit about your talent. There have been so many figures past and present who faced people not liking their work and then those pieces went on to be masterpieces. Having masses on your side is nice, but as long as just one person enjoys what you did, and you're proud of it, then you did good. Some people do miserable things and it's a reflection of what they are - miserable people.

  7. You guys? Thanks!

  8. I feel the same way. I try not to ever read my reviews on Goodreads or Amazon, but sometimes I will be checking on someone that's friending me on Goodreads, and they might have a nasty review on something I wrote linked below from one of their friends they follow. That just happened to me over the weekend, and you're right... it's completely deflating no matter how thick of a skin we have as writers. We know how hard we worked on our novels, how much research we put in and how much we agonized over phrases and character traits. It's always hard to hear someone trash our work, but then I do the same as you did. I look at their other reviews, or I even look up my favorite books and see that even J.K. Rowling gets 1 star reviews. It happens. I know I can't please everyone, but I never get a reviewers need to be mean about it. Doesn't make sense to me.

    Thanks for writing this. Good to hear I'm not alone in feeling this way. ;D

  9. (((Crystal)) just because it feels so icky and an internet hug never hurts.


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