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The Bad Review and What to Do

Your book or books are up online. Good for you. People are actually reading your work, and you get some lovely reviews. It is heady stuff to read what others have written about your work. You know you shouldn’t read reviews of your books, but you do and find a multitude of compliments: “I found myself sucked into the plot and exquisite character development and the occasional literary reference to which I found I could relate. Treat yourself. Once Nancy Avery Dafoe invites you to enter a room, you will be so glad you did.” There are many more statements like that, and you can’t help but smile.

Then, the inevitable happens. You get a bad review. No, an awful, terrible, no good, very bad review. You read it again. Maybe you read it wrong the first time. Still bad, worse even. If your response is to feel sad or shame, stop right there. There is no shame in a bad review. Repeat it to yourself. There are all kinds of readers in this world. Not everyone is nice or pleasant or fair. It may come as a shock, but there are reviewers who take pleasure in panning someone’s book. You can see them smiling as they sit at their computers composing nasty things in anonymity.

The beauty of the Internet is that connections may be made to people you do not know. One of the paradoxes of the Internet is that the dangers are also the benefits. You want to connect with people you don’t know, yet there are people with whom you don’t want to connect.

As to the bad review, one of my publishers wisely told me, “There are no bad reviews. Every review brings attention to your work, so welcome the good, bad, and the ugly.” I’m working on accepting that advice, but in the meantime, I think I will ask a few of my friends to spend ten minutes and write a decent review for my work. Never hurts to help find some balance to the scales.

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