How To Handle Negative Book Reviews

puppy in cupReleasing a book is kind of like dressing a kid for his first day of school. You wave goodbye as the school bus drives away and pray your baby doesn’t get picked on. He will. At some point. And so will your book.

Even if your book never gets a low rating, most authors are sensitive enough to be hurt by the barbed remarks floating in 4- and 5-star reviews. And of course we all want to believe only mean-spirited trolls post 1- and 2-star reviews. Sometimes that’s the case. Sometimes negative reviews are the legitimate opinions of readers who simply did not enjoy the book.

Either way, reviews are often painful for authors. We eagerly await them, expect them to be filled with praise for our hard work, then read them and want to drink what’s under the sink. [bctt tweet=”Your reaction to negative reviews might determine the length of your writing career.”]

Don’t let it be the death of yours. Here are a few tips for handling negative reviews:

  1. Don’t read reviews. Yes, I’m serious. Reviews are not for authors. Reviews are written by consumers for consumers. Stop visiting your Amazon page (which hurts your page’s ranking if you don’t purchase your book every time you land on the page, by the way). Stop searching online for your name and your book title. Cancel your Google Alerts related to your author name and your books. Replace this unhealthy behavior with writing your next book.
  1. If you do read something in a review that offends you, do not re-read the review for at least 3 days, if at all.
  1. Do not respond to the review. Some people thrive on expressing negative opinions. Some people thrive on getting attention or being involved in drama, especially with a public figure, which you are now that you are a published author. Their words might upset you, depending on the source and scope. Regardless of their motivation, tone, or method, you cannot respond to them or to the public about them. Ever.
  1. Seek any underlying nuggets of truth that can be used to better your next work. While there are meanies out there and jealous writers and trolls, often the negative comments that sting the most are the ones that point out truth. You can ignore preferences (I hated this book because it was written in third person), and you can ignore poorly written reviews (I thing you’re book was dum), but you can choose to accept constructive feedback (…so much backstory I forgot what the book was about) and use it to make your next book better.
  1. Look for pull quotes to use if the negative review is in a reputable publication. I once grumbled to an established author about a review of one of my books. She read the review and said it was a treasure trove of pull quotes. She showed me what lines she would use in marketing if it were one of her books. Suddenly, I only saw unique concept and enjoyable plot and original setting.
  1. Screenshot every positive comment you come across and every kind message from readers. Save them in a folder called Encouragement. Then when you come across something negative, open your Encouragement folder and absorb all the positive things others have said about the same book.


Keely Brooke Keith is the author of The Land Uncharted (Edenbrooke Press) and Aboard Providence (CrossRiver Media, coming October 2016). Keely lives on a hilltop south of Nashville where she dreams up stories about imaginary lands. She is a member of ACFW.


This post written by Keely Brooke Keith originally appeared on CBE Author Blog.


  1. Nicole Jarrell

    I love #6. Great idea!

  2. Elle E. Kay

    Good advice. Completely agree.

  3. Kelly Anne Liberto

    Great tips – thanks for sharing!

  4. Toni Shiloh

    I had no clue that it hurt your rating. I agree with #1 completely but it’s so tempting to read them, lol.

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