How Can You Make a Bad Book Review Work in Your Favor?

By:  Leonard Tillerman

Another morning has broken and you awaken to a shining sun and chirping birds.  You feel full of energy and ready to tackle anything the world happens to throw in your way.  Nothing can stop you!  In fact, it was not too long ago that you traded everything and set out on your journey to fulfill your dream of becoming an author.  You were relentless with your writing and published a pure work of art.  With all of this in the back of your mind you hop onto the Internet to check out your Amazon book sales.  It is there that you see it…that dreaded 1-star review!  Your mood does a complete flip as you come crashing down to earth.  How can this be possible you ask yourself?  Why did I get such a bad book review?  Instead of focusing upon that gloomy question however, it would be much more productive to do the opposite.  In other words, how can you make that bad book review work in your favor?


book review

Bad book reviews can actually help you sell your book!

  1.  Bad Book Reviews Help to Sell Books!

What?  Is that sentence really not just an oxymoron?  Bad book reviews do the opposite do they not?  The truth of the matter is that any author prefers to get a glowing 5-star review over a lowly 1-star.  However, that bad book review will bring something with it… exposure!  Like it or not, most people are attracted to either the best or the worst book reviews.  Those in the middle do not seem to get the same traction.  If your book has received a bad book review, the reader will be curious as to why that may be the case.  Like it or not, you have just achieved something.  A reader has become interested in your work and is checking it out!  It is here that they may very likely find that this 1-star review stands in stark contrast to all the more favorable reviews which are listed.  Why is that?  Perhaps the book reviewer had an ulterior motive?  This seems to happen on Amazon and Goodreads quite often and is glaringly obvious.  The reader will see through that and quite possibly purchase your book to decide for themselves.  Getting eyes on your work has just turned the negative into a positive!

Girl standing all alone

If you think you are the only one who has received a bad book review…think again!

  1.  You Are Not Alone:

If you think you are the only author out there who has received a bad book review, think again!  Literally everyone has. Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway… you get the picture. One thing is for sure, receiving a bad review for their work did not stop them from becoming the amazing authors that they are.   In fact, getting a few poor reviews brings more credibility to your work.  It makes the positive reviews all the more glowing.  They also show readers that the reviews are not just written by friends and family.  Receiving a bad book review is not a reason to be dejected and proceed to fold up your tent and go home!  It should make you do the opposite.  Your book will not be for everyone and some people will simply not like it.  However, the more professional reviewers will focus upon elements such as plot and character development and the actual mechanics of the book.  Rarely will they give a bad review because it was not their “cup of tea.”  Prepare to receive a bad review for your work on occasion because it is going to happen!

hand sticking up out of the water with a spark

Book reviews can be a great source of feedback for authors.

  1.  Grow from it:

Horrors of horrors, but sometimes the book reviewer may be correct.  Perhaps there is something seriously missing in your work.  Maybe the characters are flat, the plot too predictable or there is a flawed sentence structure which inhibits the flow of your writing.  The reviewer may actually have a point, particularly if this criticism is repeated by other reviewers.  If that is the case, you may have some revising to do.  Don’t see this as a reason to quit.  Use it as an incentive to grow.  You have just received some very constructive and valuable input from readers.  Use this for everything it is worth ad grow your book into the best it can possibly be.

looking for something

Bad book reviews without merit are very easy to spot!

  1. The Sympathy Vote:

Let’s face it…not everyone is nice, honest and trustworthy.  Some reviewers will set out to deliberately trash your work.  They may have personal, business or political motives for doing so.  Be that as it may, do you remember what I said earlier about those type of reviews being glaringly obvious?  Readers tend to be very intelligent people.  They know a smear job when they see it.  Another more favorable characteristic of human nature is that people tend to fight for the underdog and detest injustice.  Unjust bad book reviews will actually drive more readers into your corner as they sympathize with your plight and seek to support your work.

Book reviews are a very necessary part of the industry.  They provide exposure for the author and also give valuable feedback.  At the same time, book reviews allow potential readers to gain some insight about the contents of a book and whether or not they should consider purchasing it.  However, never forget that they are typically based upon opinion, and as such can frequently be subjective in nature.  Authors should always take what they can from a book review…good or bad.  Filter that information and truly make that book review work in your favor!