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Discussion: “Your Writing is Worse Than Fanfic”

bad reviews

It happens to all of us.

We read the Goodreads reviews. Or the Amazon reviews. Or any other crowdsourced review site.

At first, it’s fine. OK, someone liked my book – they REALLY liked my book. Oh, here’s someone else that enjoyed it, but wished it was longer – hey, even that’s kind of a compliment, right?

Then you see it.

The dreaded one star review.

The reader who couldn’t find a single nice thing to say about your labor of love, the thing you worked on for months and months (or even years and years) and gave your heart and soul to.

And you die a little inside.

I know, I know. Never read Goodreads reviews. But if you do, as a writer, what do you do when you with the negative energy when you get a bad reader review? And readers – do you ever give bad reviews? And if so, are they constructive or destructive?


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4 thoughts on “Discussion: “Your Writing is Worse Than Fanfic””

  1. Be grateful for the one-star reviews! Some people take a book more seriously if there is a range of review ratings, and I’ve heard that a one-star will actually intrigue a potential reader if there are also stronger ratings.

    I’m happy to say my book The Companion has several one-star reviews, in addition to the five-star and in between.

    Here’s a snippet from one of the 1-stars, and I can’t think of better promotional material than this:

    “The writing style was one reason I just couldn’t get into The Companion. Not that it was written badly, because it wasn’t. It was extremely well written, but it wasn’t the style usually seen in M/M or romance. The book was a finalist in the Lamdba Literary Awards, which should’ve been a clue I probably wouldn’t enjoy it.”

    I couldn’t buy that kind of compliment!

  2. Back away from the review site. Do not engage. Repeat: Do not engage.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion of my work, be it good, bad, or indifferent. I appreciate the time it takes for readers to review a book – not to mention the fact that they bought it in the first place and took the time out of their lives to read it in the first place. If they hated my book and gave it a one-star, that’s cool.

    Unfortunately, the nature of the beast that is the m/m genre breeds foul little monsters called “trolls,” whose job is to go forth into the world and vomit one-star reviews on everything with an m/m tag – sometimes before the book is even released. These ratings are rarely accompanied by any sort of review at all, and never with any type of constructive criticism attempted. Their sole purpose is to bring the book’s ratings down, either from spite, intolerance, or whatever agenda they follow.

    I’m not saying this doesn’t happen in other genres – it does – but it seems most prevalent in the m/m genre.

    I’ve had people rate a free book one-star because it was “that gay thing.” Obviously, they’d downloaded it because it was free, not bothering to read the synopsis, and were shocked and dismayed to find it contained gay sex. Horrors!

    The main thing is, as a writer, I would strongly urge other authors not to respond to bad reviews. Any attempt at defending your work will only enflame the reviewer. I’ve seen some truly ugly flame wars break out over this. The author NEVER comes out on top.

    Back away, do not engage, and move on.

  3. If I don’t like a book, I rarely will write a review. I do however read all the 1 and 2 star reviews of books I am interested in. I have found some very good books that way; most of those reviews have very little to say about the story or the writing – usually it is that it was too short or too expensive or it needed better editing. Sometimes I wonder if they have even read the book at all. I read for the joy of reading, to get swept up in the story and to connect with the characters.


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