How to Handle Negative Book Reviews

how to handle negative book reviews

You’ve finally published your first (or second, or third) novel after months of editing, waiting on your publisher, and/or quietly slaving away doing all of the formatting, book cover design, and publishing tasks yourself. The next step in the process of (hopefully) becoming a successful author is marketing… and one of the pieces of that daunting puzzle is getting book reviews.

Depending on how you go about this task, it can also seem overwhelming at first. If you have excellent resources (like the Reading Deals Review Tool), that can lighten your load and make things easier, but the overall process can still seem overwhelming.

The Process of Getting Reviews

Let’s take a look for a second. First, you pay for the review tool and take that plunge. However, ten to fifteen reviews is not nearly enough to make an impact, so you seek out the book review blogger list (Google it; there are several) and go through hundreds of blogs and bloggers who are listed to find those who might be interested in your book and review it. Because you want to do it right, you carefully read each blogger’s submission guidelines and follow them precisely. Each submission takes anywhere from five minutes to an hour, depending on how detailed they want you to be.

In other words? A lot of time, typing, and research/reading on a screen to go through for this particular task. After enough hours of doing this, I promise you that your eyes and head will probably hurt, your back will be aching if you have poor posture, and if you don’t already have carpal tunnel from authoring books, you probably will from doing various marketing tasks. And depending on how many reviews you’re seeking, you probably want to submit to at least 200-500 reviewers… and hopefully 10% of them will actually review your book.

This process adds to the blood, sweat, and tears already invested in your book… and why do authors do it? Are we masochists? No! Well… maybe some of us are ;). But usually it’s because you believe in your work. You have researched, toiled, brainstormed, talked about, endlessly revised, and painstakingly taken good and bad feedback into consideration during those revisions. You have poured yourselves into telling an amazing story, and you know it’s unique… you know it’s epic… and you can’t wait to share it with the world!

But you also know that no one will buy your book if there are no reviews posted on Amazon.

So you’ve submitted. You’ve put in countless hours to submit. And now you’re waiting for the reviews to begin showing up.

And you wait. And days go by. And you wait some more. And weeks go by. But you’re patient. You know this part takes time. And then, finally, one by one, the reviews begin appearing on your book’s product page. One by one, people are telling the world that they read and enjoyed your book. And with each review, you feel your excitement growing and your heart soaring with hope and imagining the possibilities.


All of a sudden, there it is. One star? You think. One measly friggin’ star?! WHY?!?!

Negative Book Reviews

You read the review. And this is where the fantasy must stop and the reality must take over.

It doesn’t matter what that review says unless you can learn from it.

Your initial reaction will probably be to give that reviewer a piece of your mind immediately. As a public reply. On your book’s product page. DON’T! Take a step back… put it out of your mind and distract yourself. I guess that’s easy for me because I have two jobs, three kids, and four pets, but even if you don’t have some other living being to distract you, you can choose some other thing you love. Sing, dance, hike, play chess, work on your next book… whatever it is that makes you happy and keeps you away from that review, do that.

For a few hours, days, weeks… however long it takes you to calm down and reframe your perspective to one of openness and learning rather than overreacting. For some it takes longer, for some it’s a few hours. You know yourself… do what you know is best so you don’t freak out online and permanently damage your own reputation.

Chances are that there will always be someone who trash-talks you, your work, your life, your lifestyle, your habits, or any number of other things. The point isn’t to try to be perfect in everyone else’s opinion. The point is to be the best version of yourself that you can be… and write the best stories borne of your boundless imagination. Celebrate those who hate you or your work for no sound reason… they are a sign that you’re on your way to doing great things.

And your first, second, or third published books are only one element of that greatness. Don’t let someone who takes issue with being constructive ruin that for you. It’s YOUR idea… YOUR story. YOUR DREAM. Perseverance is the difference between success and mediocrity.

Jennifer-Crystal Johnson (author of Fibers) is originally from Germany, but was raised in numerous places. She has been published in a variety of manners. Her poetry has appeared in various anthologies. She currently works as a freelance writer and editor as well as helping other authors self-publish their own books. Her domestic violence anthology can be found at and her publishing company is Broken Publications.

Book Marketing Tools

Book Marketing Tools exists to provide authors with helpful tools, book marketing tips and advice, and a community of like-minded authors.

Recent Content