Can a bad review end your career?

See what I said about the topic over at my blogpost on

9 replies
  1. Abe
    Abe says:

    Hi Tess,

    This is what was said on

    When you get a bad book review

    You’ve just been notified a review of your book has been posted. You’re all excited and can’t wait to see what has been written. You’re clicking onto your book’s page when…Oh no! They hated your book! This bad review is going to turn away customers from buying your book. Wait! This isn’t the end of the world. Here’s 3 tips to deal when you get a bad review.

    1. You can’t please everyone!

    Example: One of my favorite authors is a bestseller but the author didn’t receive such hot customer reviews.

    Another example: I was reading some book reviews and one of the books had one of the worst ratings ever. I clicked the link with curiosity to find over 20 customers had reviewed the book and loved it. In life, you can’t please everyone. Will a bad review discourage future customers? On to my next tip.

    2. A bad review doesn’t have to mean bad profit.

    Not all customers look at a bad review as their only guide to buying. In fact, if your review is so awful, they may even buy the book to see if it’s really as bad as the reviewer rated it. There’s the saying that curiosity killed the cat, curiosity in this case could help you. Customers also realize that everyone has different tastes. Maybe the reviewer didn’t like your book, but who’s to say someone different won’t? It may be bad publicity, but none the less it may help you. In fact, sometimes a customer may have read the bad review but only remembers your name and or the book’s title.

    3. If you’re getting more than one bad review.

    It’s understandable if you’re disappointed. It’s expected, but do not allow yourself to become discouraged. If you’ve published an e-book and can easily edit your work, bad reviews can actually help your writing. Now don’t go crazy and change everything! But if reviews are constantly pin pointing on one certain area, review your work and see if and how you could improve it. I know reviewing repeatedly can be hurtful but if it can help your e-book, isn’t it worth considering? Also, don’t start picking apart reviews right away, give yourself time to go over them. Picking apart your reviews the moment you receive them could prove fatal to your self esteem.

    Tess, tip #1 is right on. You can’t please everyone. But look at the following you have. Obviously you HAVE pleased everyone.


  2. samc288
    samc288 says:

    Hello Tess!

    I’ve just read the article and have to say that I’ve never cared aboutb book reports. I simply go to the book store and have a look at the books and see whether they seem to be interesting or not.

    I love your books and hope that you will never stop writing, because no matter what any critic writes about you, your fans will still love your work and convince their friends that they have to read it as well!

  3. therese
    therese says:

    Dear Tess,
    Thanks for this article! I only found you because of THE BONE GARDEN and have learned tons from your blog since. Your candor and honesty, dedication to readers and fellow writers is unique. You’ve also shared tips on marketing, how to do book signings, and most important – be totally real while still being a famous novelist.

    I’ve only read one other of your books so far, THE MEPHISTO CLUB, I picked it up in an airport last month during a trying time of my life, and saw pure storytelling genius in the pages. Maybe that’s the key to remember as writers in this crazy world called publishing. There is something greater than what we do, the work it takes, the pouring out of our soul onto the pages. We are dedicated to revealing something important to readers about being human. That greater objective is – story.

    Truly, we come and go on this planet in short bursts of dramatic frames called life. But the stories remain, are passed down to new generations, and they create change. But the stories need us, writers, to get them out there.

    So remember this, I would not have come to your blog except for THE BONE GARDEN. What I have learned because of your blog, makes me truly blessed.

    Thanks for having done what you do, and continuing to be who you are. I’m thrilled there is already a whole backlist of your books to anticipate and THE KEEPSAKE yet to devour.


  4. therese
    therese says:

    One more thing. Tell Mr. King that I may read one of his books – someday. I’ve seen some movies based on his books – and been impressed – but not sure I can go too deep into the books. It’s a whole different sphere!

    However, I loved his memoir, “On Writing” and plan to read it again.

  5. Kathryn Fox
    Kathryn Fox says:

    Hi Tess,
    There seems to be a direct correlation between popularity and bad reviews. It seems that the moment an author breaks through and attracts significant positive attention, the negative reviews begin.

    The Da Vinci code is a prime example. The more it sold, the more vitriolic the reviews became. And yet it kept selling in its various forms.

    The internet has given people, who otherwise wouldn’t have a voice, the opportunity to say whatever they like with anonymity and impunity. Unfortunately, that means that bad reviews are easier to write, with less thought for consequence.

    It’s also true that happy readers are less likely to bother to write reviews. They move on. So bad reviews are in no way indicative of what most readers are thinking.

    I like to think of the dress analogy. if you wear a dress and 99 people say you look good in it, but one person suggests you look chubby in it, chances you won’t wear it again. Sadly, we give disproportionate weight to negative reviews and comments, rather than seeing them from a true perspective.

    And, Tess, smiled when I saw you’d converted to a kindle after our chat in Harrogate. Still love to travel with mine. Your back will love you for it!

  6. putney1968
    putney1968 says:

    Speaking as one who is unpublished, I can only offer a hypothetical reaction to the problem of a bad review. I have noticed that reviews on Amazon are often wildly divergent. That makes sense since anyone can write one. The PW reviews may be written by more knowledgable writers, but they are anonymous. If someone I knew and respected gave me a negative critique based on craft issues, I would feel bad for having fallen short of my goal. Let’s face it, sometimes a book doesn’t speak to everyone and a reader is justified in putting it back on the shelf. An honest reviewer will state that is the problem. Some readers enjoy seeing the same formula used over and over by an author, others don’t. I prefer variation, but that’s a personal preference. Anyone who can write books year after year that have captured an audience can keep following the formula, if that is the right term, as long as they like.
    Now, if I am lucky enough to have my book published, I will find out how long my sense of detachment lasts because in my inner heart I am like you and want to be valued by everyone.
    By the way, I am looking forward to learning from you in a couple of weeks at the SEAK medical writing conference.

  7. IServeTheCat
    IServeTheCat says:

    I’ve learned it is best to simply ignore reviews, blurbs, etc. Too often I find a book with a glowing blurb by one of my favorite authors, only to find the book itself to be pure crap. I figure authors must be paid to blurb each other or something. As for reviews… I liked the Ratatouille quote on Murderati.

    I look forward to your books every year. They come out close to my birthday, so it feels like an extra special treat. Your books are so well written! (I actually had a dream once where I was Jane, and I was having dinner with Maura. How’s that for getting absorbed by a story? lol)

    If you get a bad review, just forget about it. Look at the HUGE following on your blog, your (I assume) enormous sales figures, and laugh at the reviewer who is probably some flunkie who works at McDonald’s and writes angry reviews when he gets home.

  8. struggler
    struggler says:

    Kathryn Fox said “The internet has given people, who otherwise wouldn’t have a voice, the opportunity to say whatever they like with anonymity and impunity.”

    True, but the flipside of that argument is that the internet has given people, who otherwise wouldn’t have the facility or inclination, the opportunity to buy whatever they like with freedom and convenience. I would guess that overall, the internet has provided far more positives than negatives for writers and sales levels.

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