That was it. Not what they wish would have been different. Not even what they hated so much. Just that I sucked.
This was the feedback I got after a recent webinar I did. Of course, I did get several more e-mails stating that they loved it, the material was life-changing, it made them think, they got lots of great actionable information, best webinar ever, etc.
But that one negative two-word comment stuck in my throat like a pebble in one's shoe.
If you are creating anything at all and it is being consumed by someone other than your mother and your best friend, chances are good that you have gotten a negative review or two. Whenever the subject of getting book reviews comes up, people always bring up negative reviews and ask what to do about them. Having been on both sides of negative and positive reviews (the reviewer and the scrutinized), here are the five things I would recommend.
1) Be Objective
This is probably the hardest thing of all, but essential if you want to improve. If the comment is simply hateful without anything helpful, it might really be them, not you.
But if you are getting all negative feedback all the time, or multiple people are making the same types of comments, or you are getting nothing positive at all, then take some time to figure out what is going wrong.
Usually one of two things are happening.
A) You are attracting the wrong people.
If you write romance novels and keep asking people who love sci-fi what they think you are going to get a disproportionate number of negative reviews that have little to do with your actual work. Make sure the people you are asking are "your" people.
B) There are legitimate issues.
Does every single review (even the ones that are positive overall) mention typos? Then go back through and see what needs to be fixed. Are people having trouble reading it because the font is too small? Easy to fix. This may be an opportunity to find the things that you can fix and make better.
2) Get Perspective
Sometimes it can be hard to figure out whether A or B is happening. This is where perspective is so important.
For me, I went to a Facebook group that I am a part of with other online marketers and asked about normal levels of negative feedback. The suggestions, ideas, comments, and encouragement were phenomenal. It helped me get back on my feet, brush myself off, and feel confident about continuing to move forward.
The important piece here is to get perspective from the right people. Ideally people who have already been successful doing what you are trying to do. You don't want people who will just be blindly positive or negative, but are able to give balanced and somewhat objective feedback.
If you are not a part of a writer's group, mastermind, or other supportive community, I highly suggest you find one (here is one option if you are looking). This can be the difference between success and failure in more ways than one.
3) Don't Feed the Fire
Emotions (good and bad) are a bit like fire. Feed them and they will grow. Ignore them and they die out.
I once received a book for my children's book review blog that I felt had some significant problems with the story. When I wrote the review I tried to point out every possible good thing that I could, while still being honest about my concerns. The author flipped out. She told all her friends and family about the review and they came and posted nasty messages to me on my blog. She posted about it on social media which brought even more people to see what all the fuss was about.
In the end, my review of her book started coming up number one as a search result for her book - definitely not the kind of publicity that she wanted. Ironically, because she spent so much time and energy on the negative review it became the most prominent thing about her book with the most interaction.
The lesson? If you get a negative review, reply once if you feel you need to correct a concern, but try to give it as little attention as possible while being polite and helpful to actual customers.
4) Shake It Off
As the Taylor Swift song says, sometimes you just have to shake it off. If dancing like a crazy person with your kids to pop music (ahem) doesn't help, find something that does. Whether it is a calm bubble bath, calling that person who always has nice things to say about you, or doing some yoga, find a way to recenter and release the negativity. And then move on.
5) Bury It With Good
The absolute best way to deal with a negative review? Get so many awesome ones that the bad one doesn't matter.
That is what we are going to be talking about in this week's free webinar: Getting Book Reviews That Matter. And if that title sounds familiar, it is because it is! I am doing an update to the video I did on this topic a couple years ago with all the latest and greatest.
When you attend the webinar you are also going to get a template e-mail for requesting book reviews, a spreadsheet to fill out with possible reviewers, and a daily checklist of activities to do each day to get more book reviews that will take you 15 minutes or less every day!
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER
Thursday, January 15, 2015 @ 1pm EST
(Can't make it? Register anyway to get the recording!)