Stars on Thars: The Good, Bad, and Laughable in Reviews

If you remember Dr. Suess’ Star Belly Sneeches then you know exactly where I’m heading with this.

 

Some authors live and breathe for good reviews, while others refuse to look at their reviews. Me? I’m a mix. When I have a new release, I’ll check my reviews and ratings (mainly Amazon and Goodreads) every day or so for a couple of weeks to keep track of how things are going. After that, I’ll slow down to maybe once a week then eventually to once a month. Why? Because…

  • Obsessing over reviews isn’t healthy
  • People are going to say what they’re going to say.
  • Bad days (and reviews) happen.
  • I sometimes need a good laugh.

Let’s break this down a bit, shall we? But first, a disclaimer: I’m not a bestselling author. My books receive tens, not hundreds, of reviews. My goal is not to support myself with my writing. Rather, I write because it’s come to dominate my life, more so since I’ve become otherwise disabled. I also design covers and ads and do a bit of editing for a small publisher. The fact some people like my stories and/or designs thrills me. The rest I can leave behind… most of the time.

 Obsessing over reviews isn’t healthy.

I put that in red for a reason. Obsessing over reviews of your work isn’t good for your mental or physical health. People are going to love you. People are going to hate you. People are going to love to hate you and hate to love you. I’ve been told my work is total rubbish and later the same day had another review say my current series is their all-time favorite.

Rubbish, I admit, was a bit rough, but you know what? They paid for the book, so they can have their opinion. (Psst… I got paid regardless.) The book’s still selling anyway, better right now than it ever has, so… As for the other review: Awww, authors adore for such things. This reviewer went into detail about relating the playlists to the chapters and has totally absorbed herself into the series. I’d hug her if I could, but that’d probably be, um, awkward… wouldn’t it?

People are going to say what they’re going to say.

You’ve no control over this, so why let it get to you? Consider the source. Who said it, and why did they say it? I’ve had reviewers that I later discovered slammed everything in their genre – except their own work. (insert eyebrow raise here). If the review is an honest critique, take note then walk away. It’s just one review. If you read the same complaint repeatedly then maybe they’re on to something that you can work on in your next novel. When you put yourself out there, you’re going to get some heat. This is why I consider books (or anything else) aglow with nothing but 5 star reviews as suspicious. People like to be critical, Twitter is a great example of this, so there logically should be a few less than stellar reviews in there somewhere

Bad days (and reviews) happen.

If you’re having a day you can’t let it roll off your back, don’t go there. Seriously, just don’t go there. Get the hell out of that landmine-laden field that is social media and engage your backup plan. Go to a place where crap reviews can’t touch you, wherever that is. If you don’t have a backup plan or a place, I’ll be sharing a few of my techniques below.

I sometimes need a good laugh.

I recently received a zinger of a review where the reader was upset because the book wasn’t about what the description said. She said she’d thought it was about housekeeping. Duh, what? The description for Keeping House says nothing of that sort, so she obviously didn’t read it to begin with. Given that, I was surprised the book still received a three-star rating. (Amazon considers three stars to be a critical review, BTW, but they aren’t always in their content, so they’re often worth reading.) Anyway, back to the housekeeping book. I burst out laughing when I read this. It’s totally ludicrous, and I think others will see this too.

Sometimes, you need to take
a bad review with a grain of salt.

Now, here are a few of my techniques to get over a review that keeps digging at you.

 

  • Print it out and burn it or shred it. Yes, you have my permission to be a vengeful little firebug as long as you’re safe about it. I have a small cauldron that I take to my front porch and burn those reviews in. It’s quite cathartic, really. I haven’t tried the shredder, but I’ve heard it works too.
  • Build and maintain an Imposter Syndrome prevention notebook. What’s imposter syndrome? According to Dictionary.com it’s, “anxiety or self-doubt that results from persistently undervaluing one’s competence and active role in achieving success, while falsely attributing one’s accomplishments to luck or other external sources.” In layman’s terms, it means you feel you don’t deserve credit or kudos because you haven’t earned it. And if you’re feeling this then you’re going to take negative reviews rather hard. My notebook contains positive reviews, screenshots of high rankings, newspaper and periodical clippings, and newsletter accolades. I’ll soon be adding pictures from events too. Sure, you can call this a love myself or vanity notebook if you want, but sometimes I need a reminder that there are people who think my stories are not only okay but great. It’s like a hug, and some days that’s exactly what I need.
  • Get off social media. Again, it’s a minefield. If you can’t stay off social media, turn off your Internet and write. If you can’t do that then get off the computer and go do something else. Put together that notebook I suggested above, go for a walk, go to the library, talk to someone supportive… Get away from what’s making you hurt.
  • Get help. There’s no shame in this last one. If you can’t shake the reviews then go to talk to a professional. I have anxiety issues based in past, nonwriting-related, happenings, and I’ve learned my triggers. Widely, reviews aren’t triggering, but if one is worded just right, I’ll stress out and have to use my tools. Who taught me how to use those tools? Time and talking to professionals and other authors.

Cute kid. How can you not smile with her?

Above all, realize the following: bad reviews are only words. Yes, words can hurt a great deal, but these words come from people you’ve probably never met and will probably never meet. Do you like what you’ve written? Great! Do you have readers, even if only a few, who cheer you on? Even better! That’s what matters. The rest… disregard it, burn it, shred it, laugh about it, or walk away because your health is what matters most.  ❤️❤️❤️

 


Images taken from Pixabay and Unsplash

 

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