Don’t Waste Time Dwelling on Bad Reviews

David Kubicek

It is never pleasant to get a bad review. In
fact, reading a review that savagely eviscerates the novel you’ve spent months
nurturing is one of the most unpleasant experiences a writer can have.

This might help: Getting a bad review often
means that you have missed your audience.
Even if you haven’t thought about writing to
an audience, one exists for your book. If you’re successful at finding your readers—and
assuming your book is well written—most of your reviews should range from 3 to
5 stars, which is where you want to be.

But every author who has collected lots of
reviews has picked up some bad ones—even the most popular books by the most
popular writers.

Try this experiment. Search Amazon for your
favorite books. If they have enough total reviews, I guarantee that some
reviewers will rip them apart. Most of the reviews may be 3, 4 or 5 stars, but
there will be the inevitable handful of readers who rate the books as forgettable,
a waste of time.

The bottom line is: You can’t please
everyone. This also is true of “professional reviewers”, those folks who are
paid to review books and movies.

For example, one criticism of The Hunger Games is that the novel is
not original, that a screwed up future world and a reality TV show where the
contestants kill each other has been done before—the novel to which it usually is
compared is Stephen King’s The Running

Technically, everything has been done before. A fellow named Georges Polti
analyzed lots and lots of literature and concluded that every story that has
ever been written, or will ever be written, can fit into one of 36 dramatic
situations, or plots. What makes each story fresh and different is what the
author brings to the telling. Although The
Hunger Games
and The Running Man
use the same basic plot elements, they are vastly different novels.

Does any of this make you feel better about
getting bad reviews? Maybe the following chart will help. I’ve listed five
popular novels and the reviews they’ have on Amazon (as of 8 p.m. Central Time
on April 10, 2012):
11/22/63 by Stephen King
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Remember two things:
Don’t give much weight to ratings
without reviews telling why the readers didn’t like your book.
Don’t give any weight to mean-spirited
reviews in which readers seem more interested in attacking you and your book
than in giving constructive reasons why they didn’t like it.

A review is just someone’s opinion, and as
long as you’re getting mostly positive comments, don’t waste time dwelling on
the bad ones.
David Kubicek received a B.A. in English from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He has published several short stories (his story “Ball of Fire” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses in 1989), hundreds of articles, a Cliffs Notes on Willa Cather’s My Antonia, and a Hollywood producer has optioned one of his screenplays. 

For nine years he wrote for MBJ Publications, publishers of the Midlands Business Journal, the Lincoln Business Journal, and the Mountain Plains Business Journal. As President of Kubicek and Associates, he published five trade paperback books, including two he edited—The Pelican In The Desert: and Other Stories of the Family Farm and October Dreams: A Harvest of Horror (with Jeff Mason).

He lives with his wife, Cheryl, and their son, Sean, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

 A Friend of the Family 
David Kubicek

In a desolate future, long after the nuclear war, practicing medicine is illegal. Health care is provided by Healers who treat patients using primitive methods like chanting and bleeding. 

Hank is a doctor who practices medicine only for himself and his family. His fear of being sent to prison has estranged him from the Underground, the loose network of physicians that tries to help people who have lost faith in the Healers. 

One evening a 16-year-old girl knocks on his door. She has a secret and the power to destroy Hank’s life if he doesn’t make her father well.

But there’s a catch — Gina’s father is the brother of a Healer.

Excerpt from A Friend of the Family

Gina unbolted the door and lifted off the bar, set it with
a bump in the corner, and went out. A cool breeze, touched with the smells of
mildew and rotting wood, whisked into the room. It dried the perspiration on
Hank’s face and rocked the lanterns. The door slapped shut. Maud went to bolt
it. When she came back, she drew her chair closer to the bed, sat down. She
touched her robe near the left shoulder.
got a knife in here.”
understand,” Hank said, feeling cold.
own child doesn’t think I’d use it, but I would.”
Hank looked down at his hands. He tried to still the tremor
within him.
don’t want to cause trouble.”
bein’ here is trouble.”
stop it,” Vic said. Then he was coughing again.
Hank prepared penicillin and vitamin injections. His hands
shook. He had difficulty grasping the syringes, and he couldn’t make his
muscles do what he wanted them to.
Hank put the syringes into his medical case. He didn’t want
to give the injections until Gina got back. He tried to convince himself that
it was common sense to wait until he had checked this man more thoroughly. But
besides the blood pressure, there were no more tests he could do. He was afraid
of what this old woman might do if he frightened her badly enough.

5 thoughts on “Don’t Waste Time Dwelling on Bad Reviews

  1. I agree completely, I tell all of my bloggers with the tour company that if they have issue with a book that they need to write what they did not like about it, why they did not like it and what they suggest may have been a better option. But at the same time there is ALWAYS something positive about a book and they should have those points within their review as well. A negative review should be both constructive and balanced.


  2. Bad reviews are part and parcel of being a writer. Embrace them, I say. 🙂

    Can you let me know the genre of your book on Book Junkies, and I'll remove the double posting. Thanks.


  3. That review graph should be on every author's bulletin board! I haven't had a low review thus far, but I know it will come at some point. Posts like these are essential in giving the experience perspective.

    (Louise–my book is posted twice on the Pininterest site by error. The most recent has the updated blurb.)


Anything you want to say about this post?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.