Thursday, May 31, 2012

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

I have a friend who hates puppies. True story. She hates dogs, actually, which is just weird anyway. One day, I asked her, "Okay, you hate dogs. I can kind of get that. Some people are scared of them, or were bit by one, or whatever. But what about puppies? Cute little wiggly puppies with waggly tails and puppy kisses."

"I hate puppies, too," she said.

Just like that. "I hate puppies, too."

I mean, COME ON.

I have a friend who hates Harry Potter. The whole franchise. There is not one thing she likes. She read part of the first book, and put it down. She felt that the whole first half of the first book glorified child abuse. And yeah, I get her point. If you look at it that way, Harry is abused by the Dursleys, and honestly? They don't really get their pay back for the twelve years of abuse.

"But the book is about so much more than that," I told her, trying to get her to read on.

"Oh, I know--there's magic and Hogwarts and shizz," she said. "But I don't really care about that."


My own husband hates chocolate. I didn't find this out until after we were married. That's the kind of thing that should be discussed, I KNOW, but it didn't even occur to me that anyone COULD hate chocolate. He's not allergic. I have a friend who's allergic to chocolate, and that's bad enough. But the husband? He just doesn't like it. And I'm married to this monster, y'all.

There are people in the world who hate bacon. Seriously. Not for any religious or ethical reason. They just think it doesn't taste good. There's a Facebook fan club that is just about hating bacon. There are 28 members (SO FAR) and they have BADGES. According to one online source, 11% of America's population HATES BACON.

There are what? 7 billion people in the world now? Statistically speaking, there has to be at least one person in the world who hates puppies, Harry Potter, chocolate, AND bacon. *shudders*

My point? If there are people in the world who hate puppies, Harry Potter, chocolate, and/or bacon, then there are people in the world who hate your book. Put in that perspective, things aren't so bad, huh?

And if a negative review really gets you down? Here's what to do: think about your absolute favorite book of all time. We all have one. A book we love, one that's practically perfect in every way.

Got the book in mind? Now go to GoodReads. Look the book up. Filter the reviews for 1-stars (because I promise you, it does have one stars). And smile. Because if people can rate your favoritest book in the whole world with one star, then of course people can rate your book that way, too.

  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (my fave of the series) has 2,843 one-star reviews.
  • A Wrinkle in Time, one of the best science fiction titles for teens and young people, has 4,359 one-star reviews.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which is funny and insightful and a classic, has 11,212 one-star reviews. Eleven thousand, two hundred, and twelve.
  • Hamlet, written by Shakespeare, arguably the most popular work by the most influential writer in the English language, has 2,198 one-star reviews. King Lear, my personal favorite Shakespearean play, has nearly a thousand one-stars.
  • Okay, okay, okay. We can all agree that some of those above titles might have elements that some people don't like. But who can dislike a classic children's picture book? Let's say...Where the Wild Things Are. I'm not sure, but I'd wager that's the most popular children's book in America. And it has over 2,000 one-star reviews. Curious George? Nearly 1,000 one-stars. The Cat in the Hat? Over twelve-hundred.
If there are people who hate these books, there are people who hate yours. Go pet a puppy, eat some chocolate and/or bacon, and read your favorite book again. Things aren't so bad. People are just weird different is all. 

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