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.