Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dealing With a Bad Review: Thoughts From Erika Dreifus

I've been wanting to post about this for a while and time kept slipping away. If you're a published author, you've most likely already felt the sting of a bad review. If you're a published author and you haven't experienced this yet, you will.

The post to which I'm linking is guest post on the David Abrams blog, The Quivering Pen. Erika Dreifus wrote the guest post in a positive voice, in order to help other authors learn how to deal with their first bad review...or bad reviews in general.

This line made me smile:

In this age of Google alerts, that might seem impressive indeed.

I smiled because I stopped all google alerts after my own first bad review...a scathing review where the reviewer roasted the book, in public, spelled my name wrong, and misled readers to believe scenes I'd written that were intended to be satirical were serious. In fact, the review was written to laugh at the book, laugh at me, and laugh at my publisher. But more than that, the reviewer, an angry woman, didn't "get" gay humor and never will. I figured I didn't need google alerts to point me in the direction of reviews like this, so I stopped them short and never used them again. And the book I'm talking about turned out to be a bestseller and is still getting good reviews from readers.

Then Erika said this in the guest post about the bad review she suffered. I smiled again after I read it twice:

Some of the review seemed eccentric as well as harsh.

There's never been a better word in the history of humanity than "eccentric" when it comes to some of the bad reviews authors deal with. Don't get me wrong, not all negative reviews are necessarily bad things. Some even help sell books. But in some negative reviews it's important to look for that "eccentric" quality, both as a reader and an author. Because if the review is, indeed, "eccentric"...over the top, too snarky...meant as a's not going to be a viable, trustworthy review.

Erika's guest post goes on to explain and list ways to deal with your first bad review that I can't recommend enough to all authors. Please take the time to read this. If for no other reason than this line alone:

Google the offending reviewer.

I find it both helpful and important to research book reviewers nowadays. Being that the process of reviewing a book is subjective, it's important to know how the reviewer has reviewed other books, what her reputation is like, and how readers receive her reviews. If you find that you're not the only one who has received a snarky review, you'll feel a lot better. And if you find an inordinate amount of bitchy, snarky reviews on her site, and these reviews are laced with truncated excerpts that seem to take things out of context, you may even wonder whether or not her reviews are written more to garner her online presence than help readers choose which books to read. Trust me on this, no one does anything for free online. There's always a hidden agenda and it's usually about self-promotion/platform (they want a good deal). Or, even worse, narcissism.

Once again, please take the time to read Erika's guest post the on David Abrams blog. It's one of the smartest posts about dealing with bad reviews I've read in a very long time. And it's done in very good taste, which is something I don't see often.


Cinderella said...

I am only a reader and yes I review the authors I read and sometimes my *review pimp* has me read a new author. Here is the catch I READ the book before forming an opinion some reviewers do not (my opinion). If you do not like the genre DO NOT review it. SHEESH how frickin easy is that. OK done good info in the article.

ryan field said...

I agree about reviewing genres you don't like. But I see it often. And it's not just that the reviewer didn't like the genre, she doesn't "get" the genre.

Thanks for commenting.

lauradeth said...

I try and review books but I'm not very good at explaining things so they're usually short. I hate saying a dislike a book.

I don't believe in bad reviews to me authors deserve to be encouraged not have their confidence knocked.

There's a difference between being nasty like I think the one who reviewed your book was and criticism.

To me, if you don't "get" the genre of a book don't review it. Especially if you're only going to belittle the author's work.

That's just my opinion.

ryan field said...

I agree. As a reader, I don't leave negative reviews on purpose. But I also think there's a difference between reviews by readers and reviews by "professional" reviewers. I know readers leave reviews, good or bad, based on their true feelings. I don't mind this at all. I respect everyone's opinion, especially readers. But it bothers me when I see a bad review that may or may not be written to garner the so-called professional reviewer attention. That's just conjecture on my part, of course. But I tend to read between the lines of reviews and if something something doesn't make sense, then it's usually not true.

Erika Dreifus said...

Dear Ryan:

Thank you so much for the thoughtful response to my post. I'm grateful.


ryan field said...

You're's a great post!!