ASK EM — Effing Reviews

Keyboard with Tips and Tricks Button.

I’m going to say it.


All writers know this. Some pretend they love to get reviews, but what happens when they get a bad one? I’ll tell you what happens.

We glare at the screen, wishing we had laser vision to melt away the review. We get pissed and look up the reviewer to compare our review to other ones she’s written. Then we start screaming. We flip out for no less than 5 minutes, at which point we:

1. frantically email a friend asking for validation about our writing

2. have a crying breakdown

3. question everything we’ve ever written and just why the fuck are we writing, anyway, if someone thinks the million hours we spent writing is worth 2 stars?

4. Respond to the review with a snarky reply (which should never be done, BTW. Write it, but erase it immediately!)

5. Stare blankly at your current manuscript, frozen by the bad review

1 bad review equals about 100 good ones. Why? Because a bad review feels like a personal attack. This work is a child birthed by our brains. Everything we think and feel and all our perceptions of the universe are filtered through our brains. If this reader hates my work, she must hate me.

How to combat bad-review-itis:

1. Drink heavily. Preferably while seated in front of the review so you can rage at it. Obscene gestures optional, depending on hand-eye coordination after alcohol.

2. Get mad and pound out the best book you’ve ever written in your life. Take that, shitty review.

3. Walk away for a few hours. Give yourself 2 hours to grieve over this, then get over it. After all, it’s just words. Words are like smoke.

4. Don’t ever read reviews in the first place. Get a friend to go to your Goodreads page and fetch data for you. Don’t open those emails from review sites telling you that your book has a new review. This is also called Ostrich Syndrome, and I adopt this a lot.

In the end, remember it’s just a review. Your book is still written–more than most people will ever dream of doing. It’s still published. Again, most people will never publish. Take pride in your work. Rock on.

Here’s a clip of celebrities getting bashed on Twitter. I’m going to focus on reacting to bad reviews in a humorous manner from now on. But no, I won’t put down the whiskey!

Thanks for reading!


19 comments on “ASK EM — Effing Reviews

  1. This is the type of writing that needs a “Love” button, because “Like” just isn’t strong enough. The effect of a bad review of their work is as devastating to a writer as a parent who receives the news that their child just doesn’t quite have what it takes to do X. And this applies to all writers, not just the truly gifted ones who can weave a fascinating tale straight out of their mind onto paper, but journalists and technical writers as well.

    I know this because I had the rare opportunity to lead a group of very talented tech writers and often had to block their efforts to kill our overworked and also talented editor after she bled all over their submissions. In tech writing a good editor is worth her weight in gold because she ensures the quality of the work. And she is also a writer herself who is even more gifted than the writer and it just tears her up to have to bleed the red ink because she knows the effects on the submitting writer.

    It’s like having the rug pulled out from under you, a brief sensation of soaring followed by the crash back to earth. Writers of all sorts spend much of their lives inside their own heads, a place that is not for the timid at all. And this piece is one of the best I’ve seen about this sort of thing. Way to go EM, because you’ve sent this one high over the stadium wall.


  2. As a total book nerd who thinks authors are total rock stars, this is something that drives me insane too! When I read an awesome book I have always liked to leave a review because I love to tell other people about a great book! For the life of me I cannot understand people who feel the need to trash books and authors! If I read a book that wasn’t for me, I don’t leave a review because I don’t want to say anything negative about it, and just because the book wasn’t for me, doesn’t mean someone else won’t love it! I just don’t understand those people who seem to thrive on leaving 1 and 2 star reviews, and it frustrates the Hell out of me! (Especially when they got a free book and leave a 1 star review saying it was too short, or bought an erotic romance and say it had “too much sex”.) Idiots!

  3. Thank you for weighing in! I appreciate your feedback so much! ❤

  4. Well said, Em. Loved the video, too. I guess receiving a bad review puts one in very good company. You cheered me up. Thank you!

  5. I loved reading this! Bad reviews hurt, but the good ones will lift you up on a bad day.

  6. Loved the video. Made me smile. Thanks

  7. Okay, I’m an owner of a review site and I learned the ropes from my time with The Romance Studio and Night Owl Reviews. I was always told sugar and spice in a review. Don’t make it personal and above tell what you did like. There is no author slamming what’s so EVER! If it doesn’t rank at least a 3, a reviewer should contact the author and let them know why either the review WON’T be posted or why the low ranking. I could write a week long post on reviewing; the good, bad and the ugly. Pisses me off when reviewers think they are God. Grrr…

    As a published author, my views are the same. Too bad no one has read my book for me to get upset about a review.

    Take heart authors not every one is going like your stuff but like Em said…you are PUBLISHED and the reviewer isn’t.

    owner, Harlie’s Books

    • Thank you for your POV! It’s much appreciated!

      • I just hate when authors get depressed over a review. I write good reviews and if I don’t like the book, I don’t post it. Again…pisses me off when reviewers try to play God when it comes to reviews. There are alot of so-called popular reviewers/websites that I don’t follow anymore because of the God complex.

        Plus, mean people just SUCK!


  8. Reblogged this on The Sarcastic Muse and commented:
    Today I must share this blog post with you. My friend Em Petrova has addressed something that many authors dread. Reviews. She offers some great tips to help battle “bad-review-itis”, and of course it comes with a great video at the end of Celebs reading mean tweets about themselves. Thankfully authors don’t have to read bad reviews about their books aloud and in front of a camera. 🙂 Enjoy and feel free to leave a comment when you’re done. Writers United. Have a great Tuesday! ~ Kirsten

  9. Brilliant, thank you! That cheered me up no end…

  10. I hate giving bad reviews especially now when I know how much work goes into writing a book. I dread coming across a crappy book that I have to give my opinion on.

    As a currently unpublished writer I have yet to suffer this from the other perspective but I like your suggestions for dealing with it! Lol

  11. I once got the weirdest review of a play I directed. The reviewer was clearly too dumb to “get” what we were doing. The review was poorly written, full of grammar errors, and just plain obtuse.

    Here’s the thing: He LOVED us. Not just a great review—a 5 out of 4 stars rave.

    I didn’t know what to think. This dummy thought we were the greatest thing since sliced bread. Did this mean smart people wouldn’t like us at all?

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