Bad Book Reviews: 7 Tips for Self-Published Authors on How to Deal with Them

I’ve written and self-published almost 100 ebooks – fiction (mostly romance) and non-fiction (on/about freelance writing and a few complementary niches). I’m a full-time, self-published author and I know first-hand, bad book reviews can f**k with your income!

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Bad Book Reviews: Part of the Self-Publishing Game

While self-publishing is for the most part a great career, negative book reviews come with the territory.

One of the dark secrets about selling on a worldwide venue like Amazon is that some of the bad reviews are done maliciously, ie, by vendors who hire people to write negative reviews of what they view as “the competition;” or, from trolls who for whatever their twisted reasoning will take an unliking to an author and trash their work.

And FYI, this happens to lots of vendors who sell on places like Amazon; not just authors.

You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.~John Wooden

How to Make Money Writing RomanceIt doesn’t matter if you’re actually turning out crap, or if you’re an award-winning writer, you’re going to get bad reviews from time to time.

They can hurt your feelings and if you’re not careful, paralyze the writing process – especially if you’re not accustomed to how cruel people can be online and/or you’re new to being a self-published author.

To date, over 40 of my books are short fiction (romance novellas). When I received one of my worst reviews ever (the link to it is below), I’m not gonna lie, it stung. But I’ve trained myself not to obsess over bad reviews so much, realing that they are a part of being a self-published author.

How to Handle Bad Book Reviews: 7 Tips

Following is my advice on how to handle bad book reviews as a self-published author. And by the way, this advice is applicable to fiction as well as non-fiction works.

1. Realize that bad book reviews are part of the writing game

I don’t care who you are, if you’re brave enough to put your work out there as an artist (writer, actor, musician, mime, WHATEVER), there are going to be critics. You can be a no-talent hack or a brilliant, Pulitzer-prize winning author -– bad reviews are just part of the process. Accept it, which leads me to my second suggestion …

2. Train yourself to ignore them

How to Handle Bad Book Reviews: 7 Tips for Self-Published Authors

As I said above, I’ve trained myself not to obsess over bad book reviews.

It doesn’t mean that they don’t bother me or hurt my feelings. They do. But it’s such a momentary blip that by the time I click over to the next window in my browser in most cases, I’ve let go of it.

3. Don’t respond to bad book reviews

Whatever you do, don’t respond to negative reviews. As I wrote in the ebook, How to Make Money Writing Romance: Earn Up to $2,000 Per Month (Or More!) Self-Publishing Short Romance Novels:

The first time I got a bad review, I made the mistake of responding. You can view that conversation here.

What I learned from that is to never respond to negative comments. Some people leave legitimate, helpful reviews; others are just mean and nasty. And you never know what you’re stepping into when you engage someone like this.

I found this out the hard way doing business on the web. See this post to see what I mean.

This is when I learned, “You have some crazy people out there. And the perfect place for many of them to hide is behind a keyboard as they troll the world wide web looking for someone to take their insecurities out on.

So trust me on this — leave negative comments alone. Just ignore them. The only time I respond to negative comments now is when I feel like a user is leaving a comment on the wrong book.

4. Learn from them

On the flip side of not letting them bother you is to look at them with a discerning eye. It’ll help you give your fan base more of what they want. This user left detailed feedback in her bad review, which I appreciated – all the more because she said that she’d read several of my other books. So trust me, I’m taking her feedback seriously.

5. Keep your writing flow

Flipping again, don’t let bad book reviews stop your writing/creative flow. Not everything you write is going to resonate with readers. I wrote this book because the idea came to me, and the book practically wrote itself. Also, I wanted to explore more non-squeaky clean characters in my romance novellas.

I mean, in real life, many of us have made some mistakes in the love/dating/romance department. Not all of us are virginal maidens who are waiting for our prince charming to come along.  tried to capture that in Siren, the character in the book (Her Neighbor’s Husband).

So I don’t regret writing this book. If you don’t stretch yourself as an artist in my opinion, you don’t grow.

6. Don’t check bad book reviews at all, or check them infrequently

I used to check my reviews regularly, especially when I put out a new book. After having written over 40, I don’t do it as much anymore.

I may check every four or five months, and that’s usually the first few weeks after a new release. After that, I don’t bother because really, there’s nothing I can do about it, so why put myself through the mental angst — even for just a few minutes.

7. Get busy writing and publishing your next book

This is one of the easiest ways to get over a negative book review – and possibly score a big hit (and generate some positive reviews!).


The bottom line is, you never know what readers are going to take to. After some time you may be able to predict some of what they want, but no artist can predict with one hundred percent certainty how a work is going to be received. Otherwise, you wouldn’t see so many flops coming out of Hollywood.

So don’t focus on your bad book reviews, cuz you’re gonna get’em. Let them roll right off of you — and keep on writing!

My Romance Novels

You can find all of my titles here, on my fiction publishing company’s website.

P.S.: Want to self-publish your own line of books for a living? 

Get the ultimate self-publishing package, and get started right away. You could be writing and publishing as early as next week — really!

P.P.S.: Make money writing romance.

Learn how to earn a few thousand bucks a month writing short romance novellas. I’ve written over 40 to date and although it’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of fun too! You’re only limited by your imagination.

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