Writing Wednesdays: The best ways to respond to criticism of your novel

Negative comments can be hard to deal with as a writer, so in this post I share the best ways you can respond to criticism of your novel.

Hopefully this post will apply to those of you who are posting your work online, as well as to any published writers reading this! I myself have dealt with negative feedback and here are some things I’ve learnt.

Oh, and you might like to check out this post on the pros and cons of publishing online, if you haven’t read it yet!

Sometimes the best thing to do is ignore it.

Don’t forget to pay attention to the good comments!

Yup, you read that right. Ignore it.

Hell, not everybody will like the same book, just like not everyone will like the same movie. You can’t expect everyone to love your book: obviously, if someone is reading your book and doesn’t like it, the solution is for them to stop reading.

If they carry on reading even if they leave persistent comments telling you how bad your book is, ignore it.

Seriously, if someone is putting that much effort into reading a book (unless they’re reviewing it on request) that they hate, why are they still reading? I don’t know why either. So just ignore them.

Listen to what the feedback is actually saying: is it a Negative Nelly, or are we talking about constructive criticism?

If you’ve actually received some constructive criticism within an otherwise negative comment, pay attention to it. Constructive criticism is always useful and helpful, and that is one type of criticism you should be taking notice of.

For example: ‘This book is so hard to read. I can’t follow who is speaking.’ You can take that as constructive criticism: try and improve your dialogue. (What’s that? A post on dialogue? Have one! Have another, by Non Pratt!) Whereas a comment like 'This book sucks’ is just negative. See the difference?

Laugh about it!

Seriously, one time I had such a scathing review of my book (the bloke called it a ‘category five cliché tornado’) that I found it hilarious, and shared it with all my mates.

Don’t pay attention to Goodreads reviews.

Apparently. At YALC last year, and every time I’ve met an author since, they tell me to stay far away from Goodreads reviews of my books. And the horror on their faces when I said I had looked at my Goodreads reviews… Well, just – just maybe don’t pin everything on them.

Look at who left the comment, because they may not be your target audience.

The vast majority of any negative comments/reviews I get on my books are left by middle-aged women who, half the time, start their review by saying ‘I don’t usually read this sort of book… But I wanted to see if it would be okay for my teenage daughter… and OMG teen drinking and *furtive looks* …sex… Oh gosh no this is not acceptable for my teenage daughter. Just awful.’

You get my point. Sometimes, the negative comments are from people to whom your book wouldn’t really appeal to anyway.

Literally, when I was on Wattpad, I could have one negative comment in five hundred, and it would still be the one I focused on late at night. So don’t do that to yourself.

If bad comments are getting you down, you might like to check out this post on how to write when your confidence is low.

Remember to go easy on yourself – one bad comment doesn’t mean anything if you’re getting way more positive comments.

How do you deal with getting negative comments on your writing? Share in the comments.

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