5 Ways to Deal With Negative Reviews


Getting a one-star review on your book feels like the end of the world. It doesn’t matter if you’ve gotten 50 positive reviews up to that point, the psychology of the human brain makes you want to fully concentrate on the negativity spewed forth by that reviewer. Your instinct may be to report this person who would dare to give your book such a low rating. After all, who would malign your book but someone who meant it personally?

There are multiple articles out there about how to get your negative reviews taken off of Amazon and other shady practices. If there’s something offensive or nonsensical about the review that’s one thing, but if you simply want to take down a review that’s lowering your book’s average rating, then you really should consider a different strategy altogether. It’s much better to cope with the one-star review then it is to whine and cry about it. Here are five ways to actually deal with negative reviews:

1. Write Better Books

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What if the reviewer was right? What if the review pointed out reasons that your fiction or nonfiction isn’t as strong as it should be? That’s probably what you’re most upset with from looking at this low-rated review. Very few of us are Stephen King or Seth Godin. We all have room for constant improvement. Instead of looking at a review as something that can harm you or your brand, you should be looking at it as something to learn from and train you how to become a better author.

Examine action steps you can take from these reviews. If a fiction reviewer says that you don’t use enough description, then read a book or take a class on improving your description. Does your one-star review say that the method you’ve described in your nonfiction book can’t possibly work? Then you should consider using more testimonials or a case study in your book. Authors improve when they make consistent efforts to get better. One-star reviews are like lessons from the people who matter the most: your readers.

2. Ask Fans For Reviews

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Bad reviews are immensely more painful when you don’t have very many ratings on your book to begin with. In these cases, a one-star review can drop your book’s rating precipitously. That’s why it’s so important to build up your fan base so that you can get more reviews on your books. When you have a book with a rating that doesn’t reflect the quality of the content, you have a responsibility to up that rating. The more fans you have, the more likely it is that you can honestly get that rating higher.

Sometimes fans need a little bit of encouragement. It’s against Amazon’s Terms of Service to compensate people for reviews, but there are a few ways you can still incentivize the posting of reviews. Hold a contest on your mailing list in which you agree to give a signed paperback or some other prize to one of the people who sends you a link to their review on Amazon. Make it clear that the review should be honest. Many authors have used this strategy to get a ton of new reviews on their existing or recently-launched books.

3. Get More Reviewers

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In addition to your fans, it’s never a bad idea to have connections with as many reviewers as possible. These are the kind of people who keep their own blog or they have their own YouTube channel in which they review as many books as possible. If you can create a strong relationship with more and more reviewers, then any isolated negative reviews can be easily trounced by these reviewers’ opinions.

There are many ways to find reviewers, from random blog searches to Excel spreadsheets of reviewers that make the rounds every so often. Author Marketing Club’s Reviewer Grabber is a great way to gather the contact information of many reviewers at once. An hour of searching could give you hundreds of potential reviewers for your book. There’s no telling how well they’ll like your book, but if you are confident about the strength of your work, then this is the best way to get the word out to people who write reviews.

4. Build Up Your List

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When you have fans and reviewers on your lists, you have an automatic supply of readers who can check out and rate your books as soon as they come out. Therefore, the more people you’re able to get onto your lists the better chance you will have of squelching any negative reviews with a high-proportion of positive ones. In fact, all the time you spend complaining about your low reviews could be better spent by working on email autoresponders or reader magnets to get more people onto your list. Authors like Nick Stephenson have demonstrated their ability to get over 100 reviews in 24 hours simply from emailing their large email lists. If you ever want the chance of doing the same, then you should really put some work into your subscriber gathering.

5. Move On

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Few things feel better than letting something crappy exit your brain and your life. It’s easier said than done, but if you can overwhelm your mind with all of the positive things about your books then the few negative reviews or comments will lose their power. It may take some time, but the best way to deal with the negative review is to move on.

Keep The Trolls Under The Bridge

It’s easier than ever before for someone to leave a negative review on one of your books. It hurts, but the pain is temporary. Most people who leave one-star reviews have never created anything in their lives. It’s so much easier to be a critic than it is to be a creator. Remember that fact when your next one-star review comes crawling in. Let the trolls continue to slither on their bellies as you work on becoming the best author you can be.