How to handle negative reviews

Chuck Wendig has an entertaining post up: Five ways to respond to a negative review: a helpful guide. Funny! Also topical, as it happens. I’m sure it’s not a coincidence that Chuck posted about negative reviews this week!

Those of you who aren’t in the writer/blogger Twitter stream and who don’t happen to follow the right blogs, might have missed this thing where an author named Katherine Hale tracked down a particular reviewer and stalked her — went to her actual house, called her at home and at work, etc. It was big news on my Twitter a couple days ago, and no wonder.

Personally, I think Hale actually must be suffering from some kind of emotional dysfunction, not that I’m a psychiatrist, but read the article if you like and I think you’ll agree that her actions and thoughts were not normal throughout any part of the story she relates. From obsessively making corrections to finished work already on the shelf, through tweeting while drunk, right along to actually getting stalkery and scary. It was all rather disturbing. I don’t think it’s appropriate to pile on Hale, though, since she does in fact appear to be actually crazy. (I do think it would be perfectly appropriate for the blogger to press criminal charges, since being crazy does not mean you get to stalk people and it might be a good idea for the blogger to hire a lawyer and forcibly point this out.) But the great villain of the piece is actually The Guardian, which saw fit, for some reason, to publish Hale’s article as though it approves of stalking. Some editor there seems to think it’s keen to let an author publish an article gloating about her actually illegal stalking activities, which is . . . words fail me.

Anyway, back to Chuck’s post, here is a short version of his advice regarding negative reviews. The actual post is much longer because, you know, this *is* Chuck Wendig and brevity is not his thing.

1. Do Nothing. Bad reviews happen.

2. Hey, No, Seriously, Do Nothing. Wait, why are we still here?

3. Goddamnit, I Just Told You — Hey, Where Are You Going? Whoa, whoa, whoa. Where are you going? What are you planning on doing?

4. Fine, Slake Your Rage In Proper Rage-Slaking Ways. This review is like a seed stuck in your teeth, isn’t it? Fine. Fine. Invoke your rage. Quietly.

5. Oh, For The Sake Of Sweet Saint Fuck, You’re Gonna Respond, Aren’t You? No no no no noooooo – You’re doing it anyway, aren’t you?

And then he provides advice for how to minimize the potential fallout if you do respond to a negative review.

Which is all very well and good, but I have slightly different advice.

1. If you see one, two, or maybe even three stars on a review, don’t read it.

There, problem solved. Now there is no need to go on to Chuck’s Helpful Guide.

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