How The Professionals Handle Negative Book Reviews #RRBC @RRBC_Org @RRBC_RWISA @Tweets4RWISA

If you follow my blogs, you should know by now that when I post, there will always be a lesson to be gleaned from each post.  This one will be no different.  By now you should also know that I don’t sugarcoat things.  I’ll leave that to those who don’t know how to appreciate a world of truths. 

We’ve all been there … on the dirty end of a negative book review. And although negative book reviews cut some deeper than others, they all leave us with a special feeling – the need for a good cry, or they might even give us a hearty chuckle – that’s if you don’t feel that reviews “define” you, which clearly they do for some.

RRBC was founded almost 10 years ago because of a strong need for a place to go and get truly honest reviews of your books;  a place where the courage to be honest in reviews, was and still is, strongly encouraged;  a place where readers of all backgrounds could read reviews and know that they had come from a place of pure truth – ugly warts and all.

If you’ve ever sat in on an episode of RAVE WAVES “RATERS NOT HATERS,” you know that Shirley Harris-Slaughter is a really great reviewer in that she gives an honest opinion of the books she has read.  And what makes her great at what she does as host of that show, is her courage to be honest about the books she’s read.

Since the inception of RATERS NOT HATERS, many books have been profiled on the show … even mine.  And although we may not like it when the host points out issues in our books, here are three awesome things about this show and its host, that you can always take straight to the bank…

  1. The host never discusses her reviews with anyone before the show.  What you see when you get there is not Bravo reality TV – it’s honest reality, in typical RRBC-style;
  2. Her reviews are always honest and unbiased.  It doesn’t matter how much she loves you, she is going to be truthful about what she has read.  Whether your book was amazing, and even if there were too many hiccups for her to get through the read smoothly, she will always share that truth;
  3. And here is the most important factor that I’d like for you to stew in for a long while:  The integrity of Shirley Harris-Slaughter is above reproach…

…and when I know that her integrity is being questioned and is under attack because someone didn’t like the review she gave their book (especially as host of RATERS NOT HATERS), that’s when you get to hear from me, and hearing from me via this format, is not always a comfortable place.

When we review books, we don’t have to take the time to share with the authors privately the issues we may have found in their books.  If someone does that for you, be grateful for that gift, but expecting that everyone is going to do that, is your entitlement on full display.  I’m the President and Founder of RRBC & RWISA and I’m not entitled to that privilege, so, if someone extends to me that courtesy, I am deeply honored, but in no way at all do I feel it is my right to have it.  No one owes us anything.  We should just be thankful that there are those who are brave enough and who care about us enough, to be truly honest about issues they find in our books, as opposed to walking around with a chip on our shoulder because we’re not being praised (and because someone’s truth hurt our little feelings). 

If you’re going to survive and thrive in this business, you need a thick skin – no, I don’t mean talking the talk about thick skin, I mean walking the walk, and showing the world that you have what it takes to be here and remain here.  If you’re upset about editing issues found in your book, the person or persons you need to take that up with and be upset with, is the person or persons who edited your book!  Please, thank the messenger – don’t attempt to disparage them.

A member recently felt compelled to send Paula a message stating that they didn’t want to post their review publicly of a book they’d read, but wanted to know if they would still be credited for the review.  Yes, they were afraid they might get attacked if they posted their 3-star review with mention of editing issues found in the book.  Is this what we’re being reduced to?  Adults professing to be Professionals yet throwing tantrums, causing some to be afraid to share their truth publicly?  WRONG ORGANIZATION FOR THAT NONSENSE!

So, let me get to the gist of this post and tell you what true PROFESSIONALS do and don’t do when they receive negative reviews or reviews pointing out issues found in their books:

  • If the review was clearly not posted by a “troll,” they thank the person for taking the time to read and review their book and they do it with a sincere heart;
  • They don’t go around trying to drum up support from others stating that someone gave them a bad review because “they must be jealous of me.”  What do you think you have that others might be jealous of?  I’m just curious;
  • They don’t take to social media with passive-aggressive posts about the reviewer, under the guise of only trying to help others get past bad reviews.  No, let’s be honest here, you’re trying to drum up sympathy for your hurt pride when you stoop to that level;
  • They don’t go around seeking validation from others (those they know will only praise them), asking, “Did you find anything wrong with my book?”  Seriously?
  • And after all of the above is said and done, they do absolutely nothing!  They let it roll off their backs and they go about their merry way without nary another word of it.  Professional status, still intact.

That’s how real Professionals handle negative book reviews, comments, or even being profiled on RATERS NOT HATERS – where they rate, not hate! They don’t let it consume them.  They don’t lose sleep over it.  They recognize that a review is only someone’s opinion and they move on from it.  And if they must vent, they do it privately, so as not to alert the world that they can’t handle the truth about their books.  That’s it!  That’s how the real pros handle these situations.  They don’t turn it into something messy, ugly, and divisive.

When you behave in such a manner, all you’re doing is keeping readers away from your books, especially those who you can be assured will be “honest” about your book and its issues.  Who’s going to waste their time purchasing, reading, and reviewing a book when they know the author throws tantrums when they read or hear something they don’t like?  Who in their right mind would bother? 

I want everyone to hear me loud and clear.  I’m not here to win any popularity contests and I’m sure I have more nay-sayers than I do fans.  Why?  Because I stand in my truths and I have no cowardice in my DNA and those two combinations are lethal to some in our literary community.  Actually, Nonnie only cares about the opinions of those who feed, clothe, provide shelter, and love and support her.  If you’re in that class of people, thank you!  So, with that being said, I’m going to always give it to you straight with no chasers, and if you don’t like it, well, eventually, you’ll get over it.  When I am witness to ugly behavior, unprofessional behavior, and adult tantrums, expect that I will speak out about it and call it out for what it is.  Enough is enough.  If this post feels like it’s directed at you, then maybe it is, and you should do a better job of trying to convince others that you are this Professional who can handle constructive critiques of your work, because what you are displaying, is shouting the total opposite of that.

I don’t know how many times I can say that I removed my first novel from Amazon over 4 years ago.  Why?  Not because someone pointed out any issues (but, I wish they would have) – no, it was the opposite.  I looked at it through eyes that have grown considerably since I penned that book and it wasn’t worthy of sitting on Amazon for anyone to purchase. It hasn’t been returned to Amazon and it won’t be until I have the time to give it a proper re-edit.  Now, if I can say that about my own work, know that I, along with the host of RATERS NOT HATERS, will always be honest about what we recognize as issues with yours.  

We’ve had many leave our beautiful club because they couldn’t handle hearing the truth about their writing, and all I have to say to that is, it’s their loss and I wish them the best of luck.  We only grow when we’re being fed the truth and continually challenged to put our best foot forward in our writing.  And by the way, RRBC & RWISA will only cease to function when Nonnie walks out the door.  

What does it make you when you can point out the problems in the work of others, yet you throw a tantrum when the truth of issues with your own work are presented to you as a gift and you scoff at it?  I call it a gift because when someone is honest with you about your work, it is a gift and you owe the donor a huge amount of gratitude.  Stop professing to be and actually work at being.  I’m quite certain that the best version of you, professionally and personally, is waiting to be introduced to the world.

Stop shouting, “You know me, I can handle the truth…” when you really can’t. Stop saying that you want to be told about issues found in your books when you really don’t.  How many of you really do, though?  I don’t want to waste my time bringing something to your attention, only to find out later I’m the subject of one of your tweets.

Thanks for dropping by and I wish for you all a lifetime of Happy Reading and nothing but HONEST REVIEWING!  That’s all that we want to be shared here in our forums – honest reviews.

29 thoughts on “How The Professionals Handle Negative Book Reviews #RRBC @RRBC_Org @RRBC_RWISA @Tweets4RWISA”

  1. Hi, Nonnie. thanks for the great advice. We can’t control other people’s opinions of our work, but we can control our reactions. As one character said in my favorite all-time movie, “You can’t fill a cup that is already full.” A little humility goes a long way on the road to learning to be better writers and better people. And nothing spills pride and arrogance out of that cup faster than a less than stellar review, particularly one that comes from someone we know is being honest and who expresses what they didn’t like about our work. If it’s something we can correct, we should do so in the next thing we write. If it’s a matter of not liking the genre, the writing style, or something based solely on the reviewer’s opinions, then we should be grateful they read it and took the time to review it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Patty, this was the most awesome response! Would you please repeat it and the next time, even louder so that EVERYONE can hear it?!

      You couldn’t hope for two more respected, honest and honorable members of this club to pick up your book to read and review it than Shirley or Joy B. I will never stand for someone’s character to be attacked here within RRBC/RWISA because of someone’s pride and ego – and behind “honest” reviews. Especially, when in the past, you found nothing wrong with the reviews they gave your other books. In my opinion, it’s shameful and embarrassing.

      Magnificent comment!

      Thank you!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Well said. I’ve received lower reviews because of editing issues and used that feedback to help me become better not to sit a pool of self-pity. I’ve set a goal for 2021 to revisit all of my published works to fix anything that is wrong.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree with what you’ve said, Nonnie. Still, I’ve ready posts by several authors where they discuss bad reviews they’ve gotten and how they handle them, and I haven’t felt like they were trashing the reviewers but rather sharing the realities of reviews and how authors need to develop the ability to deal with them. I’ve seen those posts more as a guide for new authors versus a pity party. 🤷🏻‍♀️

      I’ve never thought of replying to reviews. When I first became an author, I remember someone advising me not to engage with reviewers because it can become toxic. Do you reply to all the reviews left for your books? Has it ever backfired? 😊

      Like

      1. Hi, Yvette! I’ve seen similar posts – but not recently.

        I don’t respond to reviews and I don’t justify my reviews and I would encourage others to follow suit. But, we as writers need to stop chanting we can handle it, when we can’t, and then when someone brings to our attention our issues, we freak out and lose our minds. It’s sad that some want to remain anonymous and don’t want to post their reviews publicly because they fear that authors will behave in the ways I’ve listed above.

        Geeez! Let’s grow up.

        Thanks for dropping by 🙂

        Like

    2. Hi, Charles! That’s awesome to hear that you took those reviews to heart and used them to propel you into becoming a better writer. It says a lot about you that you didn’t get upset with those reviewers, but instead, you learned from what they had to say. And how awesome that you’re taking a look at all of your work this year to ensure that they are all up to par. I have had plans to do that for some time and hopefully this year, time will allot me that courtesy. Kudos to you!

      Thanks for chiming in!

      Like

  3. Hi,
    I hear what you’re saying and I agree. But, and here comes my BUT, learning how to accept criticism of any kind is a growing process. If there is an author that says he or she did not cry a bowl of tears when his or her first review was not what they expected, I applaud them, but I don’t believe it, because just like anything in life, learning how to receive criticism is a process. And I am speaking as a writer that has received so many negatives reviews over my work, that sometimes I thought I was going to go under but I kept going. I am not talking only about reader reviews either but of those rejections and reviews, one gets from professionals too.
    So even though I wholeheartedly agree with what you are saying, I have to say that authors don’t get this kind of wisdom overnight. It has to grow within us. The eyes of the author’s heart have to be opened to see his or her own worth as a person and his gift of writing as a gift that not everyone is going to like. The main thing is that he or she stands in their integrity. Authors do cry a few tears. That’s normal. We get mad because we’re hurt, but we keep getting up, keep writing, and moving forward. And most importantly, we forgive even when we’re angry because we don’t want our resentment of what someone else said or wrote to rob us of our creativity, freedom, and inner peace.
    Shalom aleichem

    Like

    1. Hi, Pat! Let me assure you of one thing, I have never, nor will I ever shed tears behind a book review. They are just opinions and just like you know what, everyone has one and everyone is entitled to use his or hers in any way they choose. There are so many important things in life that we will have to cry over in this lifetime – our children leaving the nest, parents dying, kids dying, kids getting married and moving away, catching COVID19 and dying in a hospital alone – so much, that for any ADULT to cry over a book review, makes me feel very sorry for them because life is too full and also too short for that kind of nonsense.

      Writers don’t have to grow into learning how to accept critiques graciously. No one does. It’s either in you, or it isn’t and if you’re professing to be a Professional, please only display Professional tendencies around me. Being decent isn’t hard when you’re a decent person. Don’t attack someone for their opinions. As I’ve said so many times, if you don’t want to know the truth about your books, I mean the REAL truth (and not the truth your friends choose to tell you because they’re afraid of being honest with you – in those instances those are called lies, by the way) then don’t publish.

      For someone, an ADULT, to run around throwing a fit because of a review … that’s the saddest sight I’ve ever seen and I feel sorry for those who behave in that manner.

      I’m a Professional and I’d appreciate anyone displaying what I’ve described above, to find another title more befitting of their public tantrums than the class I work hard to remain part of.

      Thanks for weighing in 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent post, Nonnie! I trust reviews from RRBC members who have given my book high marks: mostly 5’s and a few 4’s, which match other reviewers during the past year.

    What bothers me is a rater on Amazon who gives a low rating without posting a review. How do I know that the reader actually read the book since Amazon does not have to verify purchases for “readers” who rate but don’t also review the book? I have to conclude that if one rating is out of range of the evaluation of most others, the rater either didn’t like the subject matter or is possibly venting spite or envy. Overall, I am grateful that my reviews have been positive. I’ll concentrate on the that! 🙂

    Like

    1. Hi, Marian! That’s one of the reasons Goodreads should be avoided. They allow reviews and ratings when the folks state that they haven’t read a book and have no intention of reading the book. How is that fair to an author? Especially when they allow those reviews to go against an author’s rating. I didn’t know that Amazon was allowing that kind of behavior. Guess I’m not paying attention.

      Glad you enjoyed the post!

      Like

  5. I appreciate your candor and recommendations. I agree that professionals should know better. But don’t you think a large part of this is that the current publishing situation allows anyone to put out anything? And they can always get three friends to write that their book is wonderful …regardless of the quality of the writing.

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    1. Hi, Randy! Agreed, but this behavior comes from the TRADITIONALLY published side, as well as the Indie published. If everyone would learn to just get a backbone and be honest about the books they read that have issues and then point them out, some writers wouldn’t get the big-head and then feel attacked when the actual truth came knocking at their door to try and help them out.

      Thanks for weighing in, Randy!

      Like

    1. Hi, Wanda! You’re so right, but some only care that they get the trophy (the praise). And telling it like it is, is the only way I know how to tell it. Too many beat around the bush and hide behind kind words when what they really want to say, is choking them.

      Thanks for dropping by!

      Like

  6. A most profound narrative, Nonnie. Thank you for all you do. We writers should be most thankful for the “free” advice and wisdom that you share with us. I, for one, am grateful and have learned much since joining this professional organization.

    Like

    1. Hi, one of my favorite Johns in the world! Thank you for those kind words. Free advice? Always. Wisdom? I hope. But, when I post, something has moved me to post and you can believe that something is weighing heavily on my spirit and it won’t let me rest until I get it out. I don’t like to see injustice in the world. I especially am bothered when it tries to enter our precious club. I’m not delicate in my deliveries but it’s not my intent to be. Sometimes, the way that I deliver this FREE advice, is the only way that some can hear it. I make no apologies for my deliveries but I appreciate you appreciating them. 🙂 You’re amazing!

      Thanks for weighing in!

      Like

    1. Hi, Bette! No, this is a reminder that writers need to keep at the fore-front of their brains at all times. Now and then won’t cut it in this instance.

      Thanks for dropping by, Bette!

      Like

  7. Well said, Nonnie! I’m sorry, but I could not find a single hiccup… LOL! You’re absolutely right that criticism is difficult to hear. However, that’s the name of the game when you publish your work. Thanks for standing in your truth!

    Like

    1. John, thanks for being my unofficial proofer! What would I do without you, Wendy and Yvette catching things for me?

      You’re right, criticism is all part of the process … and the journey, because some of us welcome those honest reviews as they help us grow and become better. Sadly, some can’t see past “some” of those unwarranted high marks. If everyone would just be honest, we wouldn’t have these folks with “swollen” ego parading around, not caring that truth is hiding in the shadows, waiting to jump out at them.

      Thanks for weighing in!

      Like

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