So, the time has come. You get a notification for your posted fanfic/short story/novel and you go to check out the review only to find out that it’s — gasp —negative?! That weird whirlwind of anger, shame, and indignation you’re feeling right now is one that we’ve all felt at one point or another. Whether it was from a particularly harsh critiquing group or an online anonymous 123username reader, it cuts deep. So, what do you do?
Tips for dealing with negative reviews
These are some of the most important tips that I wish I would have had when I was starting out and the negativity hit me in the face.
- Resist the urge to reply/justify your actions: No matter how much you want to argue with the reviewer, don’t! It doesn’t matter if it’s to point out something obvious that they missed or to justify why something wasn’t up to par in the flaws that they’re pointing out. Remember the rule in critiquing: say nothing and take it! The only time that you should reply is to acknowledge that you appreciate their feedback. At some point in the future, people who matter (publishers, future customers, etc) will be reading those reviews and, more importantly, judging your professionalism and decorum based on how you replied to them. Save your ranting for your journal or a night out with your writer friends.
- Don’t take it personally: Okay, so you’ve probably heard this one before. It’s probably one of the hardest things, especially if you’ve never gotten a negative review before. It’s important to separate yourself from your piece of work and understand that the negative review is for your work and not for you, yourself (even if the reviewer lashes out at you personally). Remember that they’re reacting to what you created, not to you as a person!
- See it as a teaching moment: You may want to throw a chair at me for saying this, but a negative review makes for a great teaching moment. You can learn how to respond to it, how to keep from absorbing its negativity when you get up from the computer, and, of course, how to use what they are telling you to change. Always try to learn something from every piece of negative feedback you get, otherwise. The only time that you should disregard a negative review entirely is if they’re just being a troll. In which case, those are pretty easy to identify and should just make you roll your eyes and laugh.
Are negative reviews really a bad thing? You decide!
While they often will give you that whirlwind/punch in the gut feeling every time you get one, a negative review is only a bad thing if you choose to see it that way! Instead of seeing it as a sign of failure, see it as a successful moment. After all, you’ve engaged your reader and you’ve gotten them to react honestly to what you’ve written. Is that such a bad thing?
What are some of your worst reviews? Do you have any techniques that you normally use to help you to get over a negative review? What are some of your worst reviews?
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Kelterss is an experienced freelance business writer and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in Creating Writing. Having served over 3 ,200 customers while maintaining a 4.9/5 star rating, Kelterss is looking to focus her professional services in writing product descriptions and blog posts.