Dealing With A Bad Review

There are more than a few days when I wake up and wonder if my little foray into self-publishing was an utter mistake. Then I remember that there was a purpose behind choosing that option for Before The Words Run Out and even if the bad reviews leave me feeling like someone has filled my insides with snakes, there were some good reviews as well.

I went into self-publishing with no idea what I was doing and most importantly, no editor. That was clearly a big mistake and not one I would be quick to make again. Despite spending hours pouring over my work it is still clear that I needed someone there to pick out those twinges that I still missed and to push me harder with the poems that didn’t come up to standard.

This morning was the first day in months that I actually went on amazon to check out my book in order to pull out a link and update my Linked In account. I assumed that like me, most of the world had let this little adventure of a book slip to the bottom of the barrel unnoticed, to languish among the many other rashly self-published books lurking out there on the big, wide web.

Instead I found a two star review from last September, a year to the month and my confidence took an impressive swan-dive into solid concrete.

There is an odd mix in Miss Forrester’s anthology ranging from fairly OK poems to dire. The whole package in fact is poorly executed which takes away from the occasional good piece and makes the immaturity of it all painfully obvious, being both patronising and arrogant at the same time. “So far I have won no awards…” Really, dear?

All in all, I think it was too early for Miss Forrester to be publishing and a few more years worth of waiting and planning would have made all the difference.

They’re right of course. It probably was to early for me to be publishing and even now I would be hesitant to follow the same route. That is why I’m going to stick Darkened Daughter through the traditional route, mostly because it needs someone who knows what they’re doing to beat it into shape and to show me what it takes to get something to the store shelves.

I’m not going to cry over this review. It sucks and I feel horrible about it, [actually that might be the virus currently working its way through my body] but I’m willing to accept that this review serves a purpose.

The purpose is reminding me that I need to improve and really think about what I’m putting out there.

I will always find people who will tell me that my work is good. Everyone can find someone to tell them that their work is good and you can also find someone on the other end of the spectrum. The important thing is taking all that and using it to drive you forward. Most of the copies that I had printed of my book were sold to members of my family or friends who knew my family well. A lot of the poems held additional meaning to them because they knew some of the subjects and they could remember the situations that sparked the poems.

So I will follow this advice’s review and keep working and hopefully in a few years I can publish something that does live up to standards.

It hurts of course. Piece likes Grandfather and the likes were in my opinion some of my best works, but when you put something out there you’re going to get negative feedback and I knew I would be opening myself up to this sort of review. They may have been my favourites, but they were still open game for the reader.

So now I’m going to trawl through the comments on this blog and read the ones telling me that I am in fact a rather a good writer and my work is amazing. I need the confidence boost.

Tell me, how do you guys feel about bad reviews and moving forward?


    1. Sorry typing on my tablet -.-… Anyway what I was trying to say is that because I am just starting out with this blogging most people to read my blog are friends and family. Although I like the support they offer they can’t really offer me the kind of constructive criticism I want to improve my writing. I can imagine getting such a bad review on a piece of work that you really love but at the very least you now know how to improve.


      1. Well sort of. I know that I need to improve but I always like to get constructive reviews that pinpoint issues so I can dive in and tackle them head on. It is always difficult to read readers who will give you that sort of feedback though.


  1. Family and friends can’t seem to give the criticism that writers need to have because they seem to like everything. Even on blogging, we usually appreciate everyone’s works so it’s natural for you to feel upset. For me, even if ten people compliment me and one tells me I didn’t do good, I think about that one person who said that. I feel down and low. But then we have to know that these are the kind of people who give us the drive, like to do better, to strive to prove that I can write better. If you’re feeling low, think about how that criticiser knows better and hence although it’s a very negative review you have to believe in yourself and think, well at least I took the step forward, now you’re just going forward again because you know what your writing looks like from different angles.
    I’m sorry I don’t know if I made a lot of sense to you with that whole essay but I hope it gets to you πŸ™‚ and i hope it gets easier for you to deal with the negative reviews because I understand how hard those hit


  2. brave to share your pain – I did not like the sarcy put-down tone even if there was some truth in that review. Hemingway had Stein – we need people who are honest with us but not crushing – such critics are hard to find. Might be good to look back at your poems with a less personal eye and see if you can spot the goodies for yourself. It’s not easy to discard our efforts – whether they be poems or photos that do not come up to scratch


    1. Thank you. It’s nice to hear such supportive comments. I was just going to curl and pretend I hadn’t seen it to begin with and then I thought that I’d be better doing something constructive and turning the review into a sort of positive. I have no idea if that made any sense but oh well. πŸ™‚


  3. Hi Carol,
    First of all, I’d ask you to read the review critically; yes, you should consider the TRUTH of the review, but also the falsities.
    Overall, I think you have the right idea: never submit anything for publication unless it’s been read by somebody. That somebody can be someone close to you, with critical-thinking in mind, or someone you don’t know. Maybe you need an editor; but when it comes to editing grammar and punctuation, use teaching references, and just…well, be smart about it.
    Obviously, I would encourage you to keep on writing. One bad review doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. The important thing is to grow through the criticism and come back stronger. I have full belief that you are capable of that.


  4. I’ve just published my first novel and thankfully have not had a bad review yet, but I have been thinking and preparing for a possibility of one. If it has constructive criticism that makes sense, I will learn from it. If it’s from someone who just doesn’t get my sense of humor (I wrote a comedy), I will push it out of my mind, like memories of an abusive ex πŸ™‚


  5. I’ve only once been inspired to leave a critical review on a book and, on balance, I regret it. It written by a leading Shakespearean scholar who (I felt) took a very lofty approach to Shakespeare and amongst other things, said he probably didn’t own any books. I don’t believe we have any evidence for that and it’s counter intuitive to me. I had been looking forward to reading the book so much – it was hyped as being utterly brilliant – but I felt let down by various things in it.

    These days I remember it’s an act of bravery to offer creative work up to be read and criticised, whether it’s a first try or the work of someone who is acclaimed. A work of art is neither right or wrong and it’s only natural that one person likes a poem or work of art more than another. It takes a lot of experience and strength of character to learn what criticism to ignore and what we should attend to.

    But I do think that a writer should publish, if they can.


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