Thursday, August 22, 2013

How do you handle negative reviews?

A new-author friend just emailed me to ask about a negative review. (I'm not saying which friend, or which negative review {actually, it was more a not-entirely-loving review than a negative one, if you ask me...but I will be telling you about this book in the months to come and how amazing it is, so just stick around.) I should be embarrassed or chagrined by the question -- yes, I am your go-to guy for questions relating to bad reviews -- but by this time, I'm pretty okay with it, and besides, the sheer amount of amazing stuff that people have said about Kafka is reason enough for me to owe the universe some karmic feedback.

So, here it is, my advice for dealing with negative reviews.
  • get it out of your mind. see what i did, starting the email with something else? [note: I started the email talking about something else.] there is SO MUCH FREAKING STUFF going on in your life, and so many people are going to be reading your book and thinking good things that you won't have time for the naysayers. Get a jump up. Start disregarding them now.
  • make it drive you harder.So 10 people won't buy the book from reading that review. Write to a blog or a smaller site that passionately cares about your subject matter. Force yourself to do more publicity. Publicity is the most important part of bookselling, and it's the part authors hate most. Combat that feeling! Bring it on. 
  • Here's the thing about reviews: They don't matter. There was just this major study of books featured on the cover of the New York Times Book Review. They discovered, being featured only sold a couple hundred copies at most. Think about anything that's only reviewed inside. Think about anything that isn't the Times. Yeah, it doesn't really matter.
  • Way more effective: The aforementioned smaller sites with readers who are actually passionate about what you're writing about. And, like, PEOPLE. Ordinary people. People who aren't consumed by a zillion books every day. these are people who will love what you write, and who will tell their friends about it. love sells tons more copies than a review. even a good review. there are still people who care about books in this world -- not all books, but a few books -- and those people are the reason that books are still in business.

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