Rotten Reviews and Terrible Trolls

You will get bad reviews. It’s inevitable, I promise you. Take comfort in the fact that it’s a rite of passage all writers go through. Every – single – one of them, and after the first one has you on the floor, bawling your eyes out, and inexplicably trying to chew your own foot off for a while, they’re not so hard to deal with. Some are pretty funny, and some are just to be ignored. There are people out there who delight in trashing books, and sometimes the authors of books too, for reasons unknown to most decent humans. Sometimes it’s jealousy, and sometimes it’s just because they’re mean. Sometimes also these one star stabs to the soul are perfectly legitimate in their author’s hearts and minds, because they really didn’t enjoy what you wrote for reasons that do or don’t make sense to you. Whatever the reasons are for your one star clanger, you must never, ever, never, never, and I repeat, never respond to them. If you really need to share your pain then talk to a friend – preferably a writer friend, who will totally get you. I personally don’t think that it’s a good idea to respond to fabulous five star rave reviews either. “Liking” that wonderful review is good enough. The reviewer might actually not appreciate being gushed at by an unknown author, no matter how much you really want to catch a plane, find them, and kiss them on the lips. Reviews are for readers, good ones and bad ones. It’s best for you to let them be.

Now the trolls on the other hand can be some crazy scary creatures. Try and avoid them at all costs, and be very wary of provoking any. After any amount of time cruising around our dear world wide web you’re guaranteed to come across a couple. Whether it’s something you’ll read in a forum or on a blog or article that enrages you so badly you act before thinking, or a troll actually infiltrating your own sites for whatever reason, you need to throw away that pointy stick without poking that horrible hairy monster, turn around very quietly and run away. On other sites you’re better off never getting involved with these people – ignore them, and they won’t even know that you were there. On your own sites use your block, ban, and report buttons with gusto in the event of any sort of blow across your bows. I have a few times and that’s been the end of that for me personally, but I have witnessed some pretty awful trollings online that were truly appalling to see, especially on Goodreads. Have no part in these things if you can help it.

When you do get a negative review, pass it on to that part of you who is the business – not the writer – figure out if there is anything to learn from it, in which case it becomes helpful, and if not, move right along and forget about it. Don’t waste your valuable online time on trolls and hurtful reviews.

How much time of every day should you spend “marketing” online, versus how much time should you spend each day writing your next book? Writing your next book must always take priority. A couple of self-published books have gone on to be NYT bestsellers with break out first novels, but that’s not the way this author life generally works. You have to produce more than one book. A little quirk that all of us readers have is the desire to read more from a writer we love. We’ll read a book that we adore, and praise it from the rafters. We’ll look for more books by the same author, and if there aren’t any, we’ll forget about it unless something pops up to remind us about it again. So schedule your daily writing time, and try and stick to it, doing other marketing and business related projects at other times of your day.

If you want to write books and earn a living from it, you are going to have to write and publish more books. If you’re writing a series you probably won’t see substantial sales until you have a couple of books out there. Don’t panic about this though. Underlying anxiety fussing about getting this done could very well knobble your creativity and leave you staring at a blank computer screen. I read an article by Hugh Howey a long time ago, where he said that he didn’t ever bother trying to market his first book until he’d published others. It was only his seventh book, Wool, that rocketed him to fame. I took his advice and I’m glad that I did. As you publish more, you learn so much more than you expect to after that bright eyed ecstasy when hitting the publish button for the very first time. Definitely do market and advertise your first book – of course you must, but don’t let disappointing first sales put you off writing the next or let marketing consume all of your time. You need time to build a readership. Patience and tenacity are what the Indie needs to succeed.


Image Courtesy: Pixabay

Article excerpt: The Absolute Indie

Author: jorobinson176

South African writer.

38 thoughts on “Rotten Reviews and Terrible Trolls”

  1. LOVED this post, Ronovan! Yes, so much we authors don’t know…and I’m always amazed and grateful at the time and effort folks like you invest in spreading the word on so many critical points. I had to read up on trolls early on and one thing I was told over and over again was to simply ignore them.


  2. Jo Robinson, sorry, I wasn’t sure who had written this great post – I read some comments later and realized it was YOU and not Ronovan. Sorry for the attribution mistake and thank you again for a perfect post on a critical subject!


  3. Reblogged this on mira prabhu and commented:
    Modern writers live very different lives from our predecessors…we have to wear so many hats it ain’t funny, oh no no no…here Jo Robinson deals with a couple of important aspects of the job – bad reviews and trolls, ugh. All I know is that one must glean whether there is any merit in either one, and then simply shut the door. Thank you for a great post, Jo Robinson!


  4. Great post, thank you so much, Jo. I had a bad review from a friend, and i tried to reason with her. Mind you, she was and still is a friend. But whatever i said, she always had an answer. so, my motto: Get the review and be happy with it, if it is good or bad. You know better.
    so thank you.
    So, said that, would you be interested to review my books?


  5. Jo, such great, down-to-earth advice. You need to grow a thick skin – I did it with the reviews I got on my scientific papers, You can use the poor reviews as a a spur for your writing, and sometimes there might even be a nugget of something useful in there.


  6. Thanks for this post. Admittedly, my spirits have been flagging lately, where writing is concerned but you’re right about needing patience and tenacity. It can be hard at times but that’s one good thing to remember.


  7. I divide bad reviews into two categories: 1. The ones that have something to say, however unwelcome. I can learn from these–just as soon as I stop moaning. 2. The ones that boil down to “I didn’t like this book.” I can’t find anything to learn from these. Except to avoid reading them.


  8. There will always be people who love making others feel inferior. It’s a sad thing to say.
    The art is letting it go over ones head. Water off a ducks back, so to speak.
    If a person is happy enough to say negative things about you then it would be helpful if they explained why.


  9. I remember when my first book was published I used to scuttle over to Amazon when I got news of a new review, and initially this turned out to be an enjoyable activity until I came to a review which said something along the lines of “This is a good book in many ways but in paragraph 3 of page nine there is a double semi-colon and where and were have been used incorrectly and so forth until the faintly positive statement at the beginning of the review was all but forgotten. I like to think the wound has healed but this was over two years ago and I can still remember it, so I may well be wrong !


    1. A few days ago, Rarity from the Hollow received a five star review from probably the most prominent Psychologist in Australia. (I live in West Virginia.) I was on a cloud, especially since the second edition is scheduled by the publisher to be released on September 30, 2016. Last night, it received a two star review from a product reviewer and I’m in the dumps. Maybe I should try a mood stabilizer. lol


  10. Great article.

    I’ve come across a view trolls on forums, and I did what you suggest: just ingnore them. It ended there.
    Same with bad reviews. It was on a workshop. I thanked teh reviewer and that was it. I really think this is the best for our peace of mind, because I’ve seen it with a friend of mine. She responded to a bad review saying it really hurt her (the worst possible responce, in my opinion) an dthe exchange went on for a while with all sorts of bad things being said. After nearly three years, she’s still thinking abotu it and feeling saur… and that’s not a good thing.

    I’ve heard on many part that you need to have at least 4 or 5 books out to start making any substancial sell. I only have on. I’m shopping my trilogy around (I’m traying to get that trad pubbed) and planning a series of novellas to self pub. It will take time, I know, but I think that rushing it will only bring to bad writing, so I bite my reins and do my homework 😉


  11. Wonderful post by Jo Robinson, talented author, creative blogger and godsend to all indie authors with her helpful and insightful publishing tips. Check out her blog for all your publishing needs!

    Thanks for the tips. I agree about reviews they can cut you deeply but let them be. Not everyone is going to love your work and some just want to bring you down. Hugs to you Jo! ❤️


  12. Reblogged this on jemsbooks and commented:
    Check out Jo Robinson’s insightful post about reviews and her fabulous blog for all your publishing needs! She is talented and creative author, blogger and indie author’s best source for publishing. Thanks, Jo! Hugs! ❤️


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