Someone asked me the other day how I respond to unwarranted, bad reviews of one of my books. Can you guess how I replied? Check it out here:
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Wow.Do I have the one perfect answer to this question. (Are you glad you wrote in, or what?). And it's this: Write him back with something along these lines: "You f***ing icehole. How stupid are you? How could you have missed all the salient points of my book and gone off on your obvious vendetta against me? You'd better just crawl back under the rock you came from, you disgusting SOB, because you're slime!"
And believe me, I've responded just that way to the more than thousands of reviewers over my 250-some published book career over the years.
In my mind.
That's the secret. "In my mind." Outside of that, keep it to yourself.
You get a great review? Contact the reviewer and thank him or her. You get a scathing review, swallow it. Otherwise, you run the risk of starting an Internet Range War. And that never works out to an author's advantage.
Swallow it. Ignore it. Think all those thoughts you wanted to send to the review but didn't.
Let's take an analytic view of the situation. Someone excoriates your book, often unreasonably, but why? Because he hates you. Or he hates your writing. Or he is an author who hates the fact that you're competing against him. Or because he's a psychopath who simply wants to get under your skin to provoke a war.
In any case, why respond? Because you can't keep control of your emotions? Oh, great reason. Game, set, match to the reviewer!
No, much better to say, "Hey, maybe he got up on the wrong side of the bed." Or "Maybe he really didn't like it." Or "Maybe he read it when he was feeling really down." See? Lot's of "maybes." No rationale for exploding and damaging your career.
Now, on the other hand, if you get two or ten or twenty such reviews, you'd better start to reconsider your career as a writer, because there aren't that many loon jobs in the world. And perhaps they're right, and you need to look into their arguments.
Outside of that, chill. And, until then ...
Smoke if you've got 'em.
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D. J. Herda is author of the new e-Book series of writing advice, About Writing Right, available at Amazon and at fine booksellers everywhere. His blogs appear on his Website at www.djherda.org. You can also check out his columns, "The Author-Ethicist" and "Fury and the Beast," at Substack. They're free; they're entertaining; they're informative, and they run weekly. Well, almost weekly. Occasionally weekly. Sometimes weekly. (Hey, he does his best!)