Monday, July 28

Dawn Luedecke on How To Deal With Bad Reviews

Imagine you wrote a book. That book hit the Amazon shelves and quickly climbed the charts, successfully soliciting reviews, and not all good ones. What would you do? Me? I may cry to my husband, and maybe even drink a little rum while listening to Toby Keith’s “The Critic”, but once my alcohol-induced fog is over; I sit down and read it again to see if there is anything of merit in the critique that I can use. Sadly, however, not every author maintains this level of professionalism.
Recently I watched a (fairly new) indie author fall all over the Amazon boards chastising and
flaying into every bad reviewer that came her way. Her book made it to the NY Times Bestsellers list for the second week of its release. But when I read the fierce words she used to those readers who didn’t like her book, I had to cringe and file her under fellow authors never to read (and believe me, there are only a couple authors on my ‘do not read’ list).
In the literary world, critiques and reviews are an essential component to the success of a book. Many times and author has to deal with harsh words and blunt opinions. Sometimes the review/critique can even be completely wrong or off base. The most important thing for an author to do is to maintain a constant air of professionalism when dealing with critics. I’ve asked a few friends of mine, and fellow authors, how they deal with bad reviews, and this is what they said:

Bad reviews are a fact of life. You have to accept that they happen and move on with life. Of course they hurt when you have poured your heart and soul into writing the best story you can. Tell yourself that criticism is sometimes justified and be willing to learn from it. As a reader, there are books I start but don't finish, and books which irritate me. Therefore, as an author, I accept that not everyone will enjoy my work.

Madeleine McDonald

Not everyone will love them. That’s just a fact of life. You can write the most perfect, beautiful, soul rendering piece of art and I guarantee you someone will not like it. Someone will even hate it. And you have to deal with it. Here’s how.
Crystal-Rain Love

When I come across a bad review, I’ll read it to see if there’s any nugget of constructive criticism that I can apply to my writing in the future. Sometimes, there is. Oftentimes, not. Then, I mark it as unhelpful, and move along.

Becky Lower
Amazon Best Selling Author

When I get them, I don't do anything. If it's something I HAVE to respond to for whatever reason, I just say I'm sorry the reviewer didn't like the book. I believe if I had a really scathing one, I'd quote it and use it as a tool. (As in "If I read this review, I'd HAVE to read the book to see if any romance writer is that stupid--none of the ones I know are!")

Liz Flaherty

I've heard authors say how they don't read reviews, and I'm not sure how
they can stand it. If there's a new review, I have to read it. What's
important is remembering a review is one person's opinion, good or bad.
As authors we hope for more good than bad!

One reader didn't like MY KIND OF CRAZY because there was (gasp) sex in
a romance novel. I belong to a group of authors on Facebook where we
share the good and the bad, and help each other deal with the
frustrations that come with being in a subjective field.

Katie O'Sullivan

Dealing with bad reviews can be soul crushing, but in the end the only way to do it is to simply get over it and realize that it’s an important part of the publishing process. If you as an author just can’t bring yourself to accept other’s negative opinions of your work then you are setting yourself up for failure in your career.
I’d like to thank those authors who participated, and encourage other authors to leave a comment with how they deal with bad reviews/critiques. For my readers: feel free to leave reviews for my books (whether good or bad), and maybe even a comment on the blog.

A country girl born and bred, Dawn Luedecke has spent most of her life surrounded by horses, country folk, and the wild terrain of Nevada, Idaho and Montana. As a child she would spend many afternoons reading books, watching western classics, and Rogers and Hammerstein movies. When she grew up she decided to leave the quiet country life for a chance to find adventure by serving a successful tour in the United States Coast Guard. During that time she found her soul mate (and alpha male) and started a family and writing career. She enjoys writing historical and paranormal romance and spends as much time as she can working on her current manuscript. For more information visit
To Tame a Montana Heart
Big Sky Brazen
The Lighthouse Anthology
Midnight Room
Coming Soon

Social media links
Youtube Book trailer


  1. Thanks for visiting us today, Dawn!

  2. Just yesterday I read a review for a book by an author I'd never heard of. There were mixed reviews, but I can tell you it had forty 5 stars and four 1 star. One of the one star reviews really wasn't fair. It listed three spoilers and the reader admitted she'd only read a few chapters. I was so indignant I not only marked it as not helpful, but I also reported it. I felt the others were fair.
    I'd do the same for any of my friends, but I'm not sure I'd do it for my own books. I might feel it was self serving. Is that weird?

    1. I'd feel the same way, because if you're doing it for yourself...well, it IS self-serving. :-)

    2. I just can't bring myself to respond to bad reviews, but I definitely go and mark not helpful.

  3. Why is it that we take the one star reviews to heart, ignoring the fours and fives we get? Is it part of our writerly make-up or a societal teaching? When someone is ugly, quickly wipe their words from your brain and give thanks that you don't have to live in their skin. It can't be pretty in there. Best wishes, Dawn.

    1. It's true we tend to ignore the four and five stars while focusing on the one star reviews. I never really thought of that until you pointed it out.

  4. It's hard not to take bad reviews to heart. I want everyone to love my books just as I want everyone to love my children. But sometimes a bad review is warranted. I once received a bad review that I actually found quite helpful. The reviewer pointed out a lot of the things that I already knew were weaknesses in the book, along with some things I didn't know were failings. I have since received the rights back for this book and I intend to rework it using some of the advice I received from the reviewer.

    1. I agree. If the reviewer has valid points then I go in and fix what I can. Thank you for responding!

  5. Great advice! My tact? Ignore them! Just pretend the reviewer didn't say anything and move on.

  6. Good post. Good advice. I'm with everyone about ignoring a bad review and trying to garner some good out of the comments. But I absolutely go bonkers when someone gives a book a low rating and says, "I never finished it." They don't even know the entire storyline. This is very typical of people on Goodreads who remain anonymous behind a cartoon picture. Would you purchase or even critique an automobile without driving it? I would never, never rate a book I didn't finish reading.

  7. Really good advice here. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Love this post! I just got my first bad review not long ago. I read it, then forgot it.

  9. So each blog post I write I'm leaving a comment with a little snippet into my trip west. On August 15 I will ask a question on my website and facebook page, and the first person to answer the question correctly will win a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

    A week ago we got to go float down the Clark Fork River. This is the first time in years that I have been given the opportunity, and forced by circumstance, to actually relax. I had forgotten how wonderful it truly was to let go and do nothing. This was worth mentioning simply for that reason. :) I think I'll try to go again. :)

  10. I very rarely read reviews, mainly because I'm too busy writing to take that kind of time to read something I have no control over, anyway. With that said, when I publish a new book, I will skim reviews early on to see how how the book is being received, and so I can garner some quotes for promotional purposes. But I know not everyone will like what I write. I've been had someone threaten that if they knew where I lived, they would hunt me down and break my fingers (so I could never write another word). I laughed at that one. Most of my reviews are fours and fives, so I choose to focus my attention on those who love my books rather than on the 5% who don't.