Monday, July 18, 2016

What To Do With a Bad Review

by Molly Jo Realy @RealMoJo68

Have you experienced a bad review? 

I say experienced because that’s really what it is, isn’t it? You don’t just read it and move on. Not if it’s about your book. Am I right? 

A while back, I had such an experience, and was able to use it as a Cinderella moment. 

Grab yourself a glass of tea while I tell you a story.

First, the set up.

Last summer, I set up one of my Kindle books for a two-day free giveaway. Good marketing, I thought. It would get The Unemployment Cookbook, and my name, into a few more households, and hopefully lead to some better sales down the road.

And then, the conflict.

The plan was working, as more four- and five-star reviews were left on the page. That is, until, well, let’s just say someone forgot to put some honey in their tea that morning. Not only was this particular review negative, it was personally directed at me. By someone who didn’t know me. This troll bashed my recipes, my cookbook, and me without one hint of compassion or understanding.

it kept gnawing at me like a tick on a dog. 
I tried to let it go. But it kept gnawing at me like a tick on a dog. I wasn’t brave enough to comment on the review and tell the troll how wrong he/she was. How he/she had obviously not read the intro or understood why I wrote the Cookbook to begin with. Nor had he/she bothered to look at my notes for each recipe which allow for the cook to fix it to fit their own family, wallet and taste. No, I didn’t say any of that. I just stewed. (See what I did there?)

And then the resolution.

A few days later, I made a small comment on Facebook. I wasn’t looking for affirmations or kudos. I just wanted to share how words, especially unearned harsh ones, can be a speed bump on our happy road.

After a matter of minutes, my Swarm came to my rescue, unbidden and unbeknownst to me. Hours later when I checked my social media stats, I had emails and Tweets and comments and shares. Good review after good review poured in, contradicting the bad one. Comments and rebuffs countered his/her position. The more the reviews came in, the more I thanked the readers on the Facebook post stream, which boosted visibility of the original post, which created more reviews in my defense.

The happy ending.
The happy ending.

At the end of the day, that one bad review led to over ten good reviews, and The Unemployment Cookbook was listed in the Amazon Top 100 Paid Reference Books. Not only that, but because I had waited until the giveaway was over to post anything, the new attention garnered a few unexpected sales.

The takeaway.

You can’t stop people from being, well, people. There’s bound to be one bad apple in the barrel now and then. What you can do is be real. Thank your Swarm for the good reviews, and share with them the bad. Then watch them buzz to back you up. It’s a sweet thing to have a community.

With some sweet tea and a spoonful of honey,
~ Happy writing.

Molly Jo


Molly Jo is a writer, editor, social media ninja, and producer of the weekly Firsts in Fiction podcast. She has been featured in children’s magazines, on blogs and devotional websites, and her short stories have earned her awards and scholarships from nationally acclaimed writing programs. She is the founder of New Inklings Press and author of The Unemployment Cookbook: Ideas for Feeding Families One Meal at a Timeand other books available through her website and on Amazon.
Her current work in progress, NOLA, is a location mystery set in New Orleans and is scheduled for publication in late 2016.

You can find her on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and her blog, Frankly, My Dear . . .


  1. Thanks for the advice, Molly Jo. My book (_Confederate Cabinet Departments and Secretaries_ by McFarland) hasn't been out long enough to garner reviews--good or bad--but your words have helped prepare for for that day!

  2. Molly Jo, Thank you for sharing. My first book is not out yet. I plan on a few bad reviews due to doctrine belief and mean people. Your experience has helped me. I am already praying for my readers. Congrats on the great reviews.

  3. Molly Jo, Thanks for the great advice that can translate into everyday life as well :)

  4. The thing about a bad review is this: It hurts. One of my books received a bad review. The reviewer started out by using. "Not for Me" as her review title. Then she proceeded to slam the story and the characters. Now if the book wasn't for her, why did she continue reading it? This was my thought. But the bad review just really seeped into my heart and soul, and it continued to hurt. For one thing, when I got the bad review I felt so isolated and alone, like I'm the only one who ever got one. Thanks for this post. It has helped a lot.

    I did go to her review page and saw that she gave very few good reviews. So I;m not alone after all. ;-}

  5. I've had a stalker, whom I reported to Amazon. I've also had a fellow author state that my book read as a rough draft and I could always revise (I'm traditionally published and my book had a professional editor who helped polish the story). I was surprised by the comment, but after the stalker reviews I no longer worried about 3 and less star reviews. You have great advice and new authors will learn from it. :)

  6. Thanks for sharing your experience Molly Jo and for turning it upside down!