It's okay to feel bad about a less-than-glowing review. Sure. Go ahead and complain about it. Take offense to it. Write a vent blog, even. But more than 15 minutes spent feeling bad, complaining, or being offended is not only a waste of energy, it's also bad form for any writer who would be taken seriously, and bad business for any writer who would call himself/herself a professional.
Reviewers owe us nothing. Yes, they are doing us tremendous favors by offering their opinions. It would be great if everyone who read, browsed, or glanced at our work would absolutely love it. It would be grand if everyone who says they love our work would write and post a review. But since that's not going to happen, just take all reviews in stride. Of course, the good ones are nice, but the more critical ones are probably going to be the ones that help you to improve your work and thicken the delicate skin you're in.
Accepting a bad review is the first lesson in skin thickening. Anticipate and accept criticism, no matter how harsh, unfair, stinging, biting, or mean-spirited it may feel at the time. No whining, ranting, or excuse-making. Just make the next work better.
Reviews, good, bad, or indifferent, are exposure; and exposure, if exploited well, leads to interest. If you want people to be interested in your work, appreciate the reviews for what they are. Opportunities to be read.
When you get a bad review, really read what it's saying. READ it. Several times, if necessary. Don't jump to the conclusion that it's a personal attack. Sometimes (rarely) it is a personal attack. Sometimes, there's nothing to take away except this book was just not for this reader. But most of the time, especially a review of more than couple of paragraphs, may well have several compliments or suggestions for improvement laced within. Read and consider what's being said and what's not being said to pull the best from your worst reviews. If you only focus on the negative words, you'll never see the positive words, or the possibilities.
Don't hide your bad reviews. Hell. If nothing else, link it to your blog and draw attention to it. Ask other readers if they agree or disagree and why. Entice people into an unofficial reading assignment. Start a dialogue, if possible. But just get read, for goodness sake.
In a not-so-flattering review of my first book, The Other Side of 30, my coolest take away was that while the reviewer found the main character's actions to be pretty contemptible and desperate (understandable, considering the subject matter), she didn't cite any issues with writing. Unfortunately, her disdain for the character seemed to have affected the review a bit more than I would have liked. But then, who hasn't read or seen a character that they loved to hate?
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