Friday, April 05, 2013

Dealing with Bad Reviews

It happens to every writer.

Makes no difference if you won the Pulitzer, or are taught in high school English classes around the world, or have sold ten gazillion copies.

We all get bad reviews.

Sometimes the review has nothing to do with the book. A reader may dislike you, and post a 1 star review to object to something you said on Twitter. They may give you a bad review because your publisher prices your ebook too high. They could be a competitor, and want to disparage the competition (thankfully, Amazon is cracking down on this by randomly deleting every review ever written by any author).

Sometimes you get bad reviews because people don't like your subject matter. Or they were expecting something else. Or they don't think you needed so much sex, or violence, or bad fucking language.

The point is, it happens to all of us. And sometimes it hurts.

So how should writers deal with bad reviews?

These are some tricks I've learned. I've gotten hundreds of bad reviews, and these tips make enduring them a little bit easier.

Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Find out where the reviewer lives, then beat the shit out of them with a pipe. A brick, crow bar, or baseball bat also works. Remember to wear a ski mask so they don't know it is you, and try not to kill them. If you do, make sure you don't leave any DNA evidence.

2. Respond to their review, explaining why they are an ignorant douchebag. Use a sincere, calm tone when exposing them for the asshats they are. If they respond to your comments, threaten to find out where they live and beat the shit out of them with a pipe.

3. Post their address online, and encourage your fans to mail them dog shit. Or horse shit. Pretty much any kind of excrement will prove your point. You can also sign them up for freaky porn subscriptions, hate group literature, and send them pizzas every hour of every day for a year. Also, arson is easy and cheap.

4. Target someone they love. Why limit your anger to the offending party? Many reviewers have family and friends. When you visit Grandma with your crow bar, make sure she knows it is her douchebag grandchild's fault she's getting kneecapped.

5. Make them retract the review. Some ways include coercion, extortion, blackmail, kidnapping, and torture... I mean enhanced interrogation techniques. You'd be surprised how many people aren't wedded to their opinions when a bit of electricity is applied to sensitive areas.

6. Review them. If you're a weeny wimptoast who finds the above methods too extreme, opt for something gentler. Send your reviews of the reviewer to their boss, co-workers, spouse, family, and friends. Something like:

"I'm just writing to let you know that [Reviewers Name Here] is a self-important pinhead who doesn't realize that no one cares about his stupid opinions and he wouldn't know art if it stood on his shoulders and shit on his head. You should be ashamed of yourself for being associated with this waste of carbon. Just because the Internet provides a buffer is no excuse for making thoughtless, ignorant comments in public. Little bitches who denigrate the hard work of others are the lowest of the low, and your life would be better if you got away from this bitter tool. Also, let him know I'm coming over later to beat the shit out of him with a pipe."


Remember, just because the Internet allows you to say things about a person you'd never say their face, doesn't mean you should. The cavalier dismissal of art has become one of the low points of our culture, with Joe Average whining his opinions to the world without backing them up with an iota of sense, proof, or logic. Because you dislike apples doesn't mean all apples suck. Because you didn't understand a movie doesn't mean the eight hundred people involved in its production didn't know what they were doing. Because you are a prude with a short attention span doesn't mean the book had no redeeming qualities.

What Peter says about Paul says more about Peter than Paul. Chances are you're the fail, not the thing you're reviewing.

If you want to post reviews, good or bad, make sure they are substantive and well-thought out. Defend your opinions. Know why you feel the way you feel, and explain it in detail. Be deliberate. And if you're going to trash something, remember there is a human being on the other side of that trashing.

A human being with a big ass pipe.


Of course, I'm kidding. This is satire, specifically aimed at writers.

The best way to deal with bad reviews is to ignore them. If they really hurt, talk about it with your support network, and have a beer. Never have any sort of contact with a reviewer. There's no reason. Everyone has an opinion, and all opinions are valid to the person who has them.

Life is too short to worry about what anyone thinks of you, or your work. In fact, you shouldn't be reading your reviews at all.

Also remember that the pendulum swings both ways. You're a writer, so you know how difficult it is to write a story. Trashing your peers, or their work, shows a staggering lack of empathy. Be above that.

This post is dedicated to Roger Ebert. RIP.