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12 classic books that got horrible reviews when they first came out.

Maddie Crum

Reviewers are tasked with the daunting challenge of critically assessing a work's artistic merit, and determining whether a book is worth readers' valuable time. They are often also expected to predict -- or influence -- a novel's future, an assignment that may be impossible to fulfill with complete accuracy. Which is one reason why the art of the negative review has been called into question recently -- not only do writers need our support, there's also often a dissonance between critical reception and, say, Goodreads' crowd-sourced opinions. The Goldfinch is just one recent example of a title that failed to garner the support of top reviewers, but charmed book lovers (not to mention the 2014 Pulitzer judges) nevertheless.

Donna Tartt was preceded by a slew of talented writers whose works were initially snubbed by critics. Fitzgerald's Gatsby (y'know -- the Great one?) was originally panned as "obviously unimportant," and Brave New World was once said to be "heavy-handed propaganda." Yikes! Below are 12 classic books that once received bad reviews:

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Before You Go

'My Salinger Year' by Joanna Rakoff

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Maddie Crum - Writer

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20 bad reviews for classic books

Here’s a round-up of the best bad reviews of literary classics…

20 bad reviews for classic books

These days, everyone’s a critic. Any amateur satirist with an internet connection can throw mud at a best-seller.

Just take a look at how many 1 star reviews there are for The Bible on Amazon – it gets crucified! (Though, in fairness, that’s one book that really does take a while to get going. And the ending! Christ.)

But what about in olden times, when the serious literary review carried serious clout? When considered literary opinion still mattered? Surely those guys were never flippant or wide of the mark with their critical analyses?

You’d be surprised. Here’s a round-up of the best bad reviews of literary classics…

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Mr. Scott Fitzgerald deserves a good shaking.”

L.P. Hartley, The Saturday Review , 1925.

books bad reviews

Catcher In The Rye, by J.D. Salinger

“This Salinger, he’s a short story guy. This book though, it’s too long. Gets kind of monotonous.”

The New York Times , 1951.

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Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

“It doesn’t even seem to be written. Instead, it gives the impression of having been shouted on to paper.”

The New Yorker , 1961.

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Ulysses, by James Joyce

Under the headline “THE SCANDAL OF ULYSSES”…

“…appears written by a perverted lunatic who has made a speciality of the literature of the latrine… Two-thirds of it is incoherent, and the passages that are plainly written are devoid of wit…”

The columnist “Aramis”, writing in The Sporting Times , 1922.

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Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

“The short, flat sentences of which the novel is composed convey shock and despair better than an array of facts or effusive mourning. Still, deliberate simplicity is as hazardous as the grand style, and Vonnegut occasionally skids into fatuousness...”

The New Yorker , 1969

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Of Mice And Men, by John Steinbeck

“An oxymoronic combination of the tough and tender, Of Mice And Men will appeal to sentimental cynics, cynical sentimentalists…Readers less easily thrown off their trolley will still prefer Hans Andersen.”

Time , 1937.

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American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis

“…throughout numbingly boring, and for much of the time deeply and extremely disgusting. Not interesting-disgusting, but disgusting-disgusting:  sickening, cheaply sensationalist, pointless except as a way of earning its author some money and notoriety.”

Sir Andrew Motion (later poet laureate, no less), for The Observer , 1991.

books bad reviews

Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville

“This sea novel is a singular medley of naval observation, magazine article writing, satiric reflection upon the conventionalisms of civilized life and rhapsody run mad… …it repels the reader…”

The Spectator , 1851.

books bad reviews

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

“Mr. Huxley has the jitters… …a lugubrious and heavy-handed piece of propaganda.”

Margaret Cheney Dawson, writing in the New York Herald Tribune Book Review , 1932.

books bad reviews

Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov

“ Lolita, then, is undeniably news in the world of books. Unfortunately, it is bad news. There are two equally serious reasons why it isn't worth any adult reader's attention. The first is that it is dull, dull, dull in a pretentious, florid and archly fatuous fashion. The second is that it is repulsive...”

Orville Prescott writing in  The New York Times , 1958

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Where The Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak

“The plan and technique of the illustrations are superb… …but they may well prove frightening, accompanied as they are by a pointless and confusing story.”

Publisher’s Weekly , 1963

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To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

“Miss Lee’s problem has been to tell the story she wants to tell and yet to stay within the consciousness of a child, and she hasn't consistently solved it.”

Granville Hicks, writing in The Saturday Review , 1960

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Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy

“An unpleasant novel told in a very unpleasant way.”

The Saturday Review , 1891.

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For Whom The Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway

“A master of the concentrated short story, Hemingway is less sure in his grasp of the form of the elaborated novel. The shape of For Whom The Bell Tolls is sometimes slack and sometimes bulging. It is certainly quite a little too long.”

Edmund Wilson, writing in The New Republic , 1940.

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The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

[criticising the lack of a futuristic language akin to Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four or Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange ] “The writing of The Handmaid's Tale is undistinguished... This is a serious defect, unpardonable maybe for the genre: a future that has no language invented for it lacks a personality. That must be why, collectively, it is powerless to scare.”

Mary McCarthy, writing in The New York Times , 1986.

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Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence

SPOILER: Contains satire.

“This fictional account of the day-to-day life of an English gamekeeper is still of considerable interest to outdoor-minded readers, as it contains many passages on pheasant raising, the apprehending of poachers, ways to control vermin, and other chores and duties of the professional gamekeeper. Unfortunately, one is obliged to wade through many pages of extraneous material in order to discover and savour these sidelights on the management of a Midlands shooting estate, and in this reviewer's opinion, this book cannot take the place of JR Miller's Practical Gamekeeping.”

Ed Zern, writing in the American hunting magazine Field And Stream , 1959.

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Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

“Sentimental rubbish. . . . Show me one page that contains an idea.”

The Odessa Courier , 1877.

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Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë

“Here all the faults of Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Brontë) are magnified a thousand fold, and the only consolation which we have in reflecting upon it is that it will never be generally read.”

James Lorimer, writing in the North British Review , 1847.

books bad reviews

Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert

“Monsieur Flaubert is not a writer.”

La Figaro , 1857.

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Bleak House, by Charles Dickens

“More than any of its predecessors it is chargeable with not simply faults, but absolute want of construction... meagre and melodramatic.”

George Brimley, writing in The Spectator , 1853.

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Bestselling Books with Bad Reviews

Mar. 7th, 2019

books bad reviews

A Dance With Dragons

You can hardly go anywhere without hearing the phrase Winter is Coming, but the most recent installment of the series, Dance of Dragons , wasn’t universally loved. In fact, it has roughly 740 one-star reviews on Amazon. That didn’t stop it’s sales though and the show is still going strong to this day.


That’s right, one of the top-selling books of all time had its fair share of bad reviews. In fact, it has roughly 970 one-star reviews on Amazon currently. That didn’t stop it, however, from launching its own successful movie franchise, topping the best-selling charts, inspiring spin-offs and remaining a beloved YA book to this day.

The Help

Another book that also became a very successful movie, this book currently has roughly 220 one-star reviews on Amazon.

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games

Currently holding a staggering 1,160 one-star reviews on Amazon, this series was not only another best seller but another YA series that caught fire in the movie scene as well.

Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Though there are infinitely more good reviews than bad, there are still roughly 410 one star reviews for this book on Amazon. And for crying out loud, this is the best selling series of all time. If J.K. Rowling can get bad reviews, anyone can!

The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale

More recently becoming a successful TV series on Hulu, this novel wasn’t universally loved in its time either. In fact, The New York Times once said of the book, “But the most conspicuous lack, in comparison with the classics of the fearsome-future genre, is the inability to imagine a language to match the changed face of common life. No newspeak. And nothing like the linguistic tour de force of A Clockwork Orange – the brutal melting-down of current English and Slavic words that in itself tells the story of the dread new breed. The writing of The Handmaid’s Tale is undistinguished in a double sense, ordinary if not glaringly so, but also indistinguishable from what one supposes would be Margaret Atwood’s normal way of expressing herself in the circumstances. This is a serious defect, unpardonable maybe for the genre: a future that has no language invented for it lacks a personality. That must be why, collectively, it is powerless to scare.”

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby

This novel, which is still a favorite to many, received several scathing criticisms in its time. Several reviewers suggested that it is “for a season only” implying it wouldn’t be remembered or acclaimed in time. Yet now it’s being taught in schools across the globe. One reviewer from The Chicago Tribune stated, “Scott Fitzgerald’s new novel, The Great Gatsby is in form no more than a glorified anecdote, and not too probable at that…

“This story is obviously unimportant and, though, as I shall show, it has its place in the Fitzgerald canon, it is certainly not to be put on the same shelf with, say, This Side of Paradise. What ails it, fundamentally, is the plain fact that it is simply a story — that Fitzgerald seems to be far more interested in maintaining its suspense than in getting under the skins of its people.”

Slaughterhouse Five

Slaughterhouse Five

Vonnegut is now considered one of the greatest writers of all time by many, and his most famous novel wasn’t immune to criticism. The New York Times once said of the novel, “The short, flat sentences of which the novel is composed convey shock and despair better than an array of facts or effusive mourning. Still, deliberate simplicity is as hazardous as the grand style, and Vonnegut occasionally skids into fatuousness…”

Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye

Similarly to The Great Gatsby , this novel received several bad reviews when it was released. One in particular from The New Republic stated, “The book as a whole is disappointing, and not merely because it is a reworking of a theme that one begins to suspect must obsess the author. Holden Caulfield, the main character who tells his own story, is an extraordinary portrait, but there is too much of him…

“In the course of 277 pages, the reader wearies of [his] explicitness, repetition, and adolescence, exactly as one would weary of Holden himself. And this reader at least suffered from an irritated feeling that Holden was not quite so sensitive and perceptive as he, and his creator, thought he was.”

For Whom The Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls

One of the most famous Authors of all time, Ernest Hemingway, had his fair share of bad reviews too. His novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, received several similar criticisms regarding the length of the novel, including one from The New Republic that read, “A master of the concentrated short story, Hemingway is less sure in his grasp of the form of the elaborated novel. The shape of For Whom the Bell Tolls is sometimes slack and sometimes bulging. It is certainly quite a little too long.”

Truthfully, we could continue to go on in this fashion for several hours (if we had the time). Virtually every author that we idolize today has received their fair share of bad reviews in their lifetime. Heck, some of Stephen King’s latest novels received up to 500 one-star/two-star reviews on Amazon too. So why is this? And how did they overcome the criticism? Here is our advice for any authors out there who are struggling with negative feedback:

Accept the reality that not everyone will like your book

You need to look at yourself in the mirror and say, “There will be people who don’t like my book and that’s OK.” We get it, fellow writers. Our books are such an intimate part of ourselves and we’re putting it out on display for the world, it will never be easy for that part to feel rejection. But you have to remember that just because you get a bad review, doesn’t mean you’ve written a bad book. The reason that all of these incredibly successful books have received bad reviews is that every single person in the world has individual opinions and reading tastes. It’s impossible to please everyone- it’s as simple as that. We all like to believe our book will be universally beloved, but that’s virtually impossible. You’ll always get at least a few people who don’t like it and the sooner you accept that the better.

Work hard to get positive reviews

If you’re worried about your negative reviews outweighing the positive reviews, there are ways to work hard to get positive reviews. Find prominent reviewers who have an interest or specialty in your genre and forward them review copies of your manuscript in exchange for an honest review. Oftentimes bad reviews come from people who don’t have an affinity for the subject matter, but sending your book directly to those who will almost guarantee a good review is a great way to boost your count. You also have to keep in mind- having bad reviews will also legitimize your positive ones. When you see a book with all positive reviews, readers automatically assume you just got a bunch of family members or made a bunch of fake accounts to give yourself a good score. But when they see the balance between good and bad reviews, they know there’s no funny business going on with your score.

Angry male reader

Don’t dwell

This is the most important step in the process. The worst thing you can do for yourself (and for your sanity, quite frankly) is to sit on your computer all day reading and rereading your negative reviews. If you feel that you’ll be really bothered by them, don’t read them at all. If you want to get some constructive criticism so you can learn something valuable to take with you to your next book, that’s fine. But only allow yourself one read through and know which reviews to take to heart and which to brush aside. For example, if someone wrote out a detailed critique of your character arc- that’s someone who has some reading chops and you may learn something valuable. If someone wrote a review that just says, “The main character is the worst,” or something along those lines- brush that one off your shoulder. That person didn’t provide you with any valuable feedback and their critique is based solely on personal opinion rather than an objective literary critique.

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Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies , blogger, author, and book reviewer.


Really Bad Reviews of Really Good Books

books bad reviews

Show Your Support

I sometimes force myself to read some of the really bad reviews of some of the really good books. I do this in part for the amusement factor but also to remind myself of the nature of Amazon reviews, for I often use Amazon as a research tool. Reading really bad reviews of really good books reminds me that I cannot put too much stock in a crowd-sourced ratings system like Amazon’s.

Here are some 1-star reviews of books that I would deem very good. In their own way they showcase why we should be careful when allowing Amazon’s star ratings to unduly influence our purchases. In most cases I present these reviews without editing and without comment. Remember, that in each case these reviews are dragging down the overall rating of the book, perhaps to the point where you’d no longer purchase it.

Knowing God by J.I. Packer

“I bought this book based on the great reviews here. I made the mistake of buying a digital audio book and the soft cover book here on amazon. If I was not a christian I would never become one after listening to this book. First of all I think this guy is nuts. The book is way tooo complicated and full of negative crap. I have no idea what he is talking about and neither does he. All he keeps talking about is how god is vengeful and an angry god. The soft cover book when it comes tomorrow will be going back to Amazon. I do not want this crap in my house.”

“Over 1 million copies sold & highly recommended, yes, but I choose to make this evaluation for the benefit of the average person who might be directed to choose another book. I think it is written for R C Sproul & Wesley & Luther and PH D Theology Doctorates. It is mind-numbingly dull and mostly incomprehensable besides. I could only read 10 pages in one sitting and with God as my witness, I did read every page of the entire book. About 3 times on every page, I said to myself “Come on now, concentrate and think hard about what the author is trying to say”. But then within 10 seconds my mind would be wandering and wandering again. Lest anyone think religion is just not up my alley, I can cite about 200 books on the topic I’ve read over the last 15 years & I’d recommend about 150 of them. I like Timothy Keller and Philip Yancey and revere C S Lewis. Most of my reading is on apologetics & includes authors Norman Geisler, Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer and Philip Johnson on this rather deep subject. So maybe I am way off-base here but my recommendation is that one should just read the last 2 pages of this book & skip the 1st 280 pages and read Mere Christianity by Lewis instead.”

The Autobiography of George Muller

“This guy although talking of God surely doesn’t believe who God really is. I was very disappointed with how he believes and what he wants to happen in George Muller’s strengh, he is not born again.”

The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul

“This is not a review of the book but of the title. Am I the only one that notices that this title is synonymous with ‘The Godliness of God’? I’m inspired to write a book called the ‘Catiness of Cats’.”

“A friend recommended this book to me a while back, and I must say its one of the most depressing and mean spirited books I’ve ever read. If you watch a movie like Jesus of Nazareth, or even Chronicles of Narnia, you will come out happy and with a feeling that God loves you. If you read this book, you’ll come to the conclusion that God hates you.”

Holiness by J.C. Ryle

“I had such high hopes for this title, but the author goes on to explain roman 7 as being the experience of a mature saint, which means continuing in sin to the day you die. This is a false doctrine guaranteed to send you to hell. The only way to get to heaven is to obey Jesus.He said, if you love me keep my commandments. The word perfect is very misunderstood by the author. We are all imperfect in knowledge and understanding, but we must obey the light we have received and so have a perfect conscience towards God.”

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“Martyn Jones takes 10,000 words to explain what Christ ‘really’ meant when he related the Beatitudes. Imagine how confused those present at that sermon must have been deprived of Jones verbose rendering and how lucky we are to have Jones that wonderfully knows Christ’s mind.”

Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

“There is a big difference between the old covenant (testament) and the New Testament (blood covenant). Christian did not know this, follow Jesus Christ and read the New Testament instead. Forget this book!”

“I never thought that I would leave a one star ‘ever’ because I think that just the effort of writing a book is worth at least three. But reading this book I start to understand the extreme deception in this world and that is worth at least one star. In this book, Evangelist tells Christian that when he approached Mount Sinai, he approached a direction which leads to death. The Bible tells us the opposite, ///See, today I am setting before you a blessing and a curse: There will be blessing if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I am giving you today, but a curse if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God and turn aside from the path I command you today/// Deuteronomy 11:27. This book teaches and perpetuates the myth that ‘just faith’ will get you there. I wish you all good luck!”

The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel

“As the title states…it is inconsistent with the WORD. I did not read it to the end as the inconsistency was obvious.”

Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges

“This is the first book I have read by Jerry Bridges, having done it as part of the study my church small group has recently finished. Simply put, while there were some insightful and thoughtful segments/chapters in this book (the one one ungodliness, i.e. not involving God in our day to day living, was especially so) the majority of it falls short. I’m glad I didn’t have to pay for this book because if I did, I’d either throw it away or not finish it. Overall, his examples are forgettable or even irrelevant, and the overall tone of the book, to me at least, seemed whiny and self-righteous. That said, the one chapter really made me realize that involving God in your life should be a higher priority for me, but if we weren’t doing this as part of a study, I never would have gotten that far. Overall, if you’re going to read it, do it with a friend or small group to help move you along, since the conversations we had at small group were way better and insightful than this book.”

Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray

“The language is out of date and unnecessarily academic (as was the style back in the day). Skip this text and go somewhere else. There are lots of better options out there.”

How Then Shall We Live? By Francis Schaeffer.

“I regret ordering this book. Every other sentence is about god or Christianity and how everything relates to the two. This books is for religious people that want to feel good about their religion and feel like the world revolves around them. This kind of misinformation and twisting of the facts belongs in the trash can, not in people’s hands. I should have know better than to order a books based solely on the title and outline. It looked interesting. O well. I’ll sniff those religious fools better next time.”

“Schaeffer, a Christian evangelist, goes through the decadence of the West. Needless to say he remains quite close-minded, presenting only things that fit in the calvinist branch of Christianity. What is terrible is that he is kind of saying that there can’t be no civilization without Christianity!! What about Greece and Rome then? This is not only stupid, but also dangerous : does he want to run another Holocaust to fix the problem of the majority of the people, who are not Christian but disdain Christianity??”

The Cross of Christ by John Stott

“This book is bad stuff because it doesn’t emphasize eternal damnation in Hell. Without Hell and eternal damnation, God did not have to take on human flesh to die in a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins. John Stott really needs to read his Bible carefully. How could someone who doesn’t understand this be saved?”

Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament by G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson

“This was an excellent commentary and in it, you will find many parallels found in the Old Testament, similar to phrases in the New Testament that Jesus used. The book is thick and it is packed with useful information, but I have not read it through entirely to date. It is a superior resource for further insights into the scriptures. I highly recommend the book.”

[Tim’s note: It’s not unusual to find positive reviews mistakenly marked with 1 star.]

Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer

“I bought, the knowledge of the Holy, because of the title which is just beautiful. The book however is in its brainstorming stage and a chaos, which reflects the lack of knowledge of the Holy. Very disappointing.”

“No one can teach us about God or the Word of God, except the Holy Spirit. He does not seem to be teaching on the Holy Spirit but just his opinions about such God and Heaven. This is the Holy Spirits job, only he can teach us, just like the bible says, read that and forget theology!”

“I find it amazing that 117 readers gave this book 5 stars (yes, he has sweet words, but so did the executioner, theocracy dictator John Calvin); nevertheless, you must be uneducated (no eucation in the history of the Church) Catholics! Please people, don’t you find it odd that the author of this book quotes Michael de Molinos (convicted for heresy); then the author defends the doctrine (Holy Trinity) of that same Catholic Church that condemn Molinos. Get with it people, does it take a Jim Jones to make you more suspicous. God is ALL; God is One, Tozer. We don’t need your opinions or your prejudices … to many innocent scholars and innocent people were murdered because of this political devise/ Church Orthodoxy (Re: Michael Servetus).”

And just for fun, here are a few classics that fall outside the Christian genre.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

“i love tolstoy, long books and some of the classics, so finally decided to try war and peace. irritatingly boring. i could not care any less about any of the characters, their idiotic problems, their foolish interior thoughts, or a war from long ago between countries i will never see. i have actual problems and a life so no time to waste on senseless russian aristocratic blathering. it may have been important at one point but is pointless to me in 2019. i just finished infinite jest so maybe after such brilliance tolstoy is like a stale biscuit with neverending tea…with mary and anna; every woman is interchangeable and named one or the other.”

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.

“I can’t imagine why it is a classic. Some reviewers have said the writing is ‘old English, ‘ which was spoken from 440 AD until the Norman Conquest in 1066 . Middle English ended in the 1400’s. Shakespeare and the King James Bible are in early modern English. This book is written in a stilted Victorian English. It is the story of the useless aristocracy, who do nothing but converse about the wealth or lack of wealth of all the people they know because their own well being depends on marrying someone with adequate money. Very dull reading. I know it’s a stage play and I can’t imagine any action. Let’s face it, Jane Austen is no. Bronte.”

Seeing how the there was no purpose to the plot, I was left bored from the first word to the very last. I really did not see the point of writing a story about two well-off, high society women court other men. There was absolutely nothing interesting about that in the story. No one really cares if the ladies must suffer through heartbreak because in actuality, everyone does. Jane Austen could have done a much better job in piecing a more attractive and purposeful novel together. As I read, the more I learned about the characters, the angrier I got. Why does every character have to be a member of a high social status? To me, everyone was snobby, everyone was self-indulged, and everyone was too one-dimensional. The characters were too well-off to even sympathize with. I did not care or feel emotionally attached to any character whatsoever. Each individual was not self-motivated, and they came off as stuck-up characters. I was just waiting for someone to do something, but no, each character has to wallow in his or her own self-pity. People have worse problems to worry about than worrying about the problems the character has. I kept going through the story and saying, “So what? Who cares? Fix your own problems.” The characters were too detached to make me feel interested. All in all, the story was just bad. It lacked purpose and meaning. Although you have to admit Jane Austen constructs beautifully crafted sentences, sentence style could only take the story so far. If you have time to actually read this book, I suggest you spend your time doing something worthwhile instead of wasting your life on Sense and Sensibility.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

“Without question one of the worst books I have ever read and I am dumbfounded that this mess is considered a classic and as highly regarded as it apparently is. I gave the novel 300 pages to convince me that it would be worth continuing. Those pages contained no plot, a series of random conversations and scenery switches that go absolutely nowhere. There are occasional superficial philosophical musings that are far from profound. Several of the five star reviews describe this book as life-changing. I can’t see how because it has no substance. I have read his other works and this is clearly his worst. I am disappointed that I spent $5.00 for the paperback. Spend your time elsewhere…”

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Posted on Feb 20, 2020

Ten Ways to Handle Bad Book Reviews

Alex J. Cavanaugh works in web design, graphics, and technical editing. Online, he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group . He’s the author of Amazon Best-Sellers CassaStar , CassaFire , CassaStorm , and Dragon of the Stars . The author lives in the Carolinas with his wife. Learn more about Alex by checking out his website , following him on Twitter , or heading to his Bookbub profile ! In this guest post, he shares his tips for handling negative book reviews.

1. Refrain from responding to the reviewer

As much as you might want to respond (either politely or with harsh words), don’t do it. Once you’ve left a comment, sent out a Tweet, or posted to Facebook, your negative response will be out there for everyone to see. You might get a few fans to rally to your cause, but most people will view you, not the reviewer, as the villain. Even if you later delete it, the damage is done. Even sending an email is a bad idea as well. So refrain from adding fuel to the fire and keep your grumblings private.

2. Know that it’s part of the process

Guess what? We all get negative and unflattering reviews. It goes with the territory. Remember, you created art. Art is subjective and not everyone will like your book. You can’t please every reader. (And if you do, then you really didn’t say anything of value.) Shake it off and move on.

3. Laugh about it

What are you going to do — cry? Might as well laugh about it! Often a bad review is poorly written or so far-fetched, it makes no sense. So turn the tables and have a good chuckle about it. (Besides, it’s really difficult to stay angry when you’re laughing.)

4. Remember bad reviews add validity to good reviews

What do you think when a book has nothing but five-star reviews? You start to wonder, don’t you? Friends and family of the author, maybe? Paid reviews, perhaps? A couple of bad reviews means some readers were honest — which means the rest of the good reviews are probably honest as well. (Plus, sometimes people want to know if the book is really that bad, so they ended up reading it to find out!)

5. Look for constructive criticism in the review

Often two and three-star reviews will offer constructive criticism. Look for it. Is there any validity to what was said? Can you see areas where you can improve or issues you need to address? (Several reviewers didn’t like the fact there were no women in my first book. I listened and made sure there were several women in the next one, including a female main character. That book garnered better reviews than the first.) Learn from the bad reviews and write an even better book next time.

6. Don’t focus on the negative

We tend to focus on the negative. Even obsess over it! We can have a hundred great reviews and one bad one. Which one gets our attention? The bad one! Who cares? What do we do when calculating averages? We drop the top numbers and the bottom numbers. Do the same: ignore that bad review and don’t even factor it into the equation.

7. It’s just one person’s opinion

Everybody has an opinion. And they are just that — opinions, not facts. So one or two people didn’t like your book? Big deal! Out of millions of readers, that’s not even a drop in the bucket. (Unless all of your reviews are bad, of course!)

8. Don’t let bad reviews stop you

Yes, putting a book out there is scary and nerve-racking. It’s a creative endeavor, which makes it a little more personal. We can’t take reviews personally though. We have to believe in ourselves and not let bad reviews stop us. Have you ever encountered a jerk at your work? Did it cause you to give up and stop working forever? No! So don’t let a negative review from someone you’ve never met stop you from writing.

9. Write the next book

This is the best thing you can do! Just hunker down and write your next book. Show those naysayers that you are a great writer. Take your experience from the previous book and pour it into the next one. Really focus. You’ll be so busy writing, you won’t have time to worry about bad reviews.

10. Kill off the reviewer in your next book

If all else fails, just put that reviewer into your book as a murder victim or monster that's slain by the hero! You’ll feel so much better.

What other creative ways can you handle bad reviews? Leave your tips in the comments below! Or, if you're looking for ways to get  more reviews, check out our directory of book review blogs ! 

2 responses

Heather says:

21/02/2020 – 02:48

It's so important not to take this stuff personally! Great article! Heather

cie the ornery old lady says:

24/02/2020 – 01:02

I already responded to this post at the Insecure Writers' Support Group but just wanted to give Alex kudos. He has a lot of great advice. Unfortunately, I'm the kind of person who can get ten good reviews and the bad one is the one that will stick with me. In order not to make my or my family's lives miserable, I refrain from reading any of my reviews, good or bad.

Comments are currently closed.

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The Write Life


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Real Writers Get Bad Book Reviews. Here’s Why That’s OK.

by Michael Alvear | Feb 3, 2017

book review, credit: goodluz

Why do so many writers go ballistic when they get a bad review?

Why do we RAGE at the single one-star review on Amazon and ignore the fifty good ones? Why do best sellers perceive a good, but unstarred review on Publishers Weekly as a wrenching rejection ?

Are we all weak-willed namby-pambies in need of a spine transplant, or is there something else going on?

Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson thinks it’s because our brains are wired to have a disproportionate reaction to bad news. In his book Hardwiring Happiness , he explains it this way: “The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones.”

We simply pay more attention to and react more emotionally to negative outcomes.

Our Stone Age brain reacts to social rejection as a threat to survival. We’ve always lived in tribes. If you got cast out, you’d lose access to food, water, protection and care for your kids.  

So the brain became hyper sensitive to the slightest change of our status in the tribe, lest it cast us to the dingos.

How does this apply to writers?  

Our brains subconsciously perceive every bad review as a threat to our status in the tribe that we’re in or trying to get into. If it’s a literary critic who panned your book, your brain sees him as part of the Elite Publishing Tribe that can help you survive by selling more books, getting better access to resources and improving your standing in the tribe.

If it’s an ordinary reader who trashed your book on Amazon, your brain sees her as part of the “My Readers” tribe that can also help you thrive through more sales and higher status.  

Our Stone Age brains don’t care about the totality of our reviews—only the negative ones. Yes, positive reviews are good and your brain will celebrate and rejoice—for about a minute.  And then it reverts to its wiring, which is to scan for threats. In other words, you regard positive reviews in stride because you’re safe.

That twig-breaking sound really was a branch creaking in the wind. But the negative review?  That’s a saber tooth tiger coming at you.  Run!

How to overcome your brain’s interpretation of bad reviews

The single most powerful action you can take to neutralize your brain’s wiring is to prove it wrong.  

Your brain fears being cast out of the tribe, so calm it by connecting to your personal tribes—family, friends, other writers. See brain? I’m not being thrown to the dingos—I have love, money and resources to carry on.

Once the brain calms you can use reason and logic to center yourself.   

1. Know you’re not alone

“Writers,” said Isaac Asimov, “Fall into two groups: Those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review.”

In other words, welcome to the club.

Everyone gets bad reviews.  

Some of Stephen King’s latest novels received up to 500 one-star/two star reviews on Amazon.

Real writers get bad reviews.

2. Bad reviews are not a death sentence for your book

Book stores are packed with best sellers that have a lot of bad reviews.

Prove it to yourself. Do this: Go to idreambooks.com , the “Rotten Tomatoes” of the book world.

They aggregate book reviews from important critics like the New York Times and rank best selling books according to the percentage of good reviews they received.

Notice anything? Almost all the best selling books have a significant number of bad reviews.  

How much could bad reviews affect sales if they’re all best sellers?

I’m not trying to sell you a bridge in Brooklyn—bad reviews are undesirable. I’m not saying they don’t matter. I’m saying they’re not necessarily the deal-breakers you think they are.

3. Bad reviews can actually help sell books

Wait, what?

Let me explain.  

What do you think of a book that has nothing but five-star reviews? I don’t know about you but I’d be suspicious.

People have wildly divergent opinions on everything. Some people don’t like chocolate.   CHOCOLATE! So how is it possible for a book, any book, no matter how good it is, to have uniform reviews across the board?  

If I see nothing but 5 stars I’m thinking the author got all his friends, family and associates to write a lot of butt-kissing reviews.

In a twisted way, bad reviews give a book legitimacy because their very presence indicate that the good reviews must be genuine.

There are other ways to manage the “rejection” of bad reviews, but let me end with my personal favorite: Getting perspective.  

We are writers who entertain and inform. We are not setting the stage for another Rwandan genocide or Syrian civil war. Kurt Vonnegut, recognizing that fact, once said, “Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.”

Going Forward

You need to assuage both your brain (“PANIC, PANIC, I’m being cast out of the tribe!”) and your mind (“It’s just a bad review among many good ones”).  Start by connecting to your tribes and when you’ve shut the alarm, absorb the insights of those who’ve come before you.  And don’t forget to laugh.  A few years ago an Amazon reviewer said this of one of my books:  “I’ve stepped in deeper puddles.”  Ouch!  Fortunately, my sense of humor is stronger than my ego, so I laughed and to this day I find it so funny that I tell people about it.  What’s the worst/funniest thing anybody’s ever written about your books and how did you handle it?

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Jan 11, 2022 | Market

Bad Book Reviews and How to Avoid Them

Bad Book Reviews

No author wants to read bad book reviews. But they happen. The real question is, can you AVOID bad reviews on your book? 

Conventional wisdom says that good books will get good reviews. So using that advice, all you need to do is write a great book. Not exactly easy, sure, but that’s what we all set out to do. 

But the conventional wisdom is wrong – being good is not enough. In today’s world, where millions of books are out there, a click away, and readers are being marketed to from every angle, “just” writing a fantastic book isn’t going to ensure that you get great reviews OR that your book will sell. 

Every author gets bad book reviews. But some bad reviews are avoidable.

There are always going to be those people who don’t like your work – your voice doesn’t click, your story doesn’t grab them. You can’t control that. 

What you can control, though, are the readers who don’t like your book because they were disappointed . They expected one thing but got another. They saw your ad on Amazon describing a twisty thriller and they couldn’t wait to dig into a dark, exciting story…only to find that your book was a sci-fi thriller, a caper set in a distant, high-tech future. This wasn’t at all what they expected when they hit that “BUY NOW” button, and they’re none too happy about it. 

In short: you marketed your book to them, and when they sat down to read, it wasn’t what they expected. 

By ensuring you know exactly WHO your reader is, and making a concerted effort to market to that particular audience, you can make sure that reviews like this are far and few between. 

Indie authors and most first-time authors don’t have big publishing houses with marketing research units behind them, but we still need to do the job of finding and speaking directly to them to ensure that we don’t end up with a slew of lackluster – or worse – reviews on our books.

How can I keep my book marketing on target?

Like I said, bad book reviews happen, no matter how great a book is. So how do you begin the process of positioning your work for success by talking to your true intended audience? How do you make sure your book sales aren’t impacted by negative reviews? 

It’s all about targeting your marketing. I recently sat down with my friend, author Emily Meyer, to talk about marketing her first book. It took feedback from advance readers for her to realize she’d made a crucial mistake in her book’s positioning. We talked about how she figured it out, plus what she did to make the critical marketing change that led to her book taking off! You can listen to our conversation on my podcast right here . 

Your ideal readers are out there, waiting for your book. Go out and market to them!

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The 13 Worst Reviews of Classic Books

A quarter century ago, Pushcart editor Bill Henderson put together Rotten Reviews Redux , a collection of the meanest and most scathing reviews of classic books and the writers who penned them. The vitriol returns in a 2012 edition of the book with a new introduction from Henderson. We sorted through the book to find 13 of our favorites.

"The final blow-up of what was once a remarkable, if minor, talent." - The New Yorker , 1936, on Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

"Whitman is as unacquainted with art as a hog is with mathematics." - The London Critic, 1855, on Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

"That this book is strong and that Miss Chopin has a keen knowledge of certain phrases of the feminine will not be denied. But it was not necessary for a writer of so great refinement and poetic grace to enter the overworked field of sex fiction." - Chicago Times Herald, 1899, on The Awakening by Kate Chopin

"What has never been alive cannot very well go on living. So this is a book of the season only..." - New York Herald Tribune , 1925, on The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Here all the faults of Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Brontë) are magnified a thousand fold, and the only consolation which we have in reflecting upon it is that it will never be generally read." -James Lorimer, North British Review, 1847, on Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

"That a book like this could be written--published here--sold, presumably over the counters, leaves one questioning the ethical and moral standards...there is a place for the exploration of abnormalities that does not lie in the public domain. Any librarian surely will question this for anything but the closed shelves. Any bookseller should be very sure that he knows in advance that he is selling very literate pornography." - Kirkus Reviews , 1958, on Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

"Her work is poetry; it must be judged as poetry, and all the weaknesses of poetry are inherent in it." - New York Evening Post , 1927, on To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

"An oxymoronic combination of the tough and tender, Of Mice and Men will appeal to sentimental cynics, cynical sentimentalists...Readers less easily thrown off their trolley will still prefer Hans Andersen." - Time , 1937, on Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

"Its ethics are frankly pagan." - The Independent , 1935, on Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham

"A gloomy tale. The author tries to lighten it with humor, but unfortunately her idea of humor is almost exclusively variations on the pratfall...Neither satire nor humor is achieved." - Saturday Review of Literature , 1952, on Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor

" Middlemarch is a treasure-house of details, but it is an indifferent whole." -Henry James, Galaxy , 1872, on Middlemarch by George Eliot

"At a conservative estimate, one million dollars will be spent by American readers for this book. They will get for their money 34 pages of permanent value. These 34 pages tell of a massacre happening in a little Spanish town in the early days of the Civil War...Mr. Hemingway: please publish the massacre scene separately, and then forget For Whom the Bell Tolls ; please leave stories of the Spanish Civil War to Malraux..." - Commonweal , 1940, on For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

"Monsieur Flaubert is not a writer." - Le Figaro , 1857, on Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

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Self-Publishing Advice Center from the Alliance of Independent Authors

Opinion: Why It’s Good to Get Bad Reviews

Theo Rogers turns the issue in his book “How to Get Good Reviews on Amazon” on its head and explains why indie authors should also welcome occasional bad reviews.

Why Bad Reviews Can Be Good for Self-published Authors

Everyone gets bad reviews. Yes, everyone. Pick the books you consider the greatest works of literary genius ever written and check them out on Amazon or Goodreads. I’ll guarantee that each and every one got some absolute stinkers. Now pick the greatest commercial successes you can think of. Once again, the same applies. Everybody gets them.

In fact, when a book has nothing but five-star raves, it’s generally a sign that the fix is in: that someone has stacked the deck with phoney reviews that were either bought and paid for, or written by friends and family. So much so that nowadays even the more sophisticated shills know they need place a few carefully constructed, mildly critical reviews as well.

Once real reviews start arriving in any number, you’re guaranteed to get at least a few by people who didn’t like what they read. If you can write a book that literally nobody hates, then frankly, you should be put in a lab and studied.

Of course you don’t want bad reviews to dominate. But your book’s page on Amazon or Goodreads looks a whole lot more… honest with at least a few less than stellar ratings or reviews.

Why Abusive Trolls Are Not All Bad News

Given that you’re going to get bad reviews eventually, and you may even need a few to keep your page looking honest, what kind of bad reviews do you want? Would you want polite, considered, and meticulously argued one-star eviscerations of your work that read as if they were written by professional critics? Or deranged and abusive rants?

Well Holy Hachette jobs, Batman: you tell me which you think will be more credible with readers, and ultimately do your sales more damage!

Why Your Should Not Take Bad Reviews Personally

The best advice I ever got about handling some of the lunacy posted on the internet was given to me by a good friend who happens to be both a top 1,000 reviewer on Amazon, and a psychiatric nurse in real life. What she said to me was this:

“Always remember that you could be arguing with a ten year old. Literally.”

And even if you’re not… C’mon. You wouldn’t try to reason with a total stranger ranting and raving on a street corner, now would you? (Or would you..?) You wouldn’t? Good. So why on Earth would you try it in an online forum?

Why Arguing With Negative Reviewers Never Helps

Margaret Thatcher famously said “Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy”.

Unfortunately, the current divide between authors and online reviewers has been created by some pretty nasty history. If you do take on your critics, you have to understand that at this moment in time, your actions will be seen in the light of the actions of some authors who have truly gone off the deep end after receiving nothing more than a bad review.

No real reviewer thinks of themselves as “anti-author”. But reviewers do by and large believe that the book was the author’s chance to have their say. Post publication, it’s time to let readers have their own discussion.

Whether you agree with this belief or not, on a purely practical level, arguing with your critics does not work. It’s often been said that our books are like our children. I agree. Unfortunately one implication of this is that if your book ever does get into trouble, having the author leap to its defence is about as impressive as a character reference from your mum.

Perhaps the most important way in which our books are like our children is that we can’t fight all their battles for them. However much we might want to.

Sometimes we need to let go and allow them to fight their own battles. Find their own champions. People who love them not because they’re their children, but simply for what they are.

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OVER TO YOU What's your take on bad reviews? How do you deal with them? Join the conversation via the comments box!

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Author: Theo Rogers

Theo Rogers is an Amazon jungle guide and author of "How To Get Good Reviews on Amazon". author member of ALLi and a keen reviewer. Find out more about Theo and his book at his website: www.getgoodreviews.com .

[…] Publishing both good and bad reviews to show both sides of the spectrum […]

[…] Opinion: Why It’s Good to Get Bad Reviews […]

Great article! Thanks for sharing it!

Excellent Thio. I’m a member of International Thriller Writers and we have a Thrillerfest conference every year. Bad reviews is one of the highlights of our after dinner topics. It’s usually a competition between our most prominent writers, such as James Rollins, Lee Child, James Patterson, et al. The bad reviews are displayed on a large screen and the winner is the writer whose review is chosen as the worst of all …. Cheers, Pat.

Sorry Theo … misspelling your name is very bad 🙂

Very sensible attitude!

(Sorry I took so long to respond, but I hadn’t been back to this page in a while.)

[…] Why It’s Good to Get Bad Book Reviews – Theo Rogers […]

[…] https://selfpublishingadvice.org/bad-reviews/ […]

Great post, Theo.

I’ve had the immense good fortune to ‘mentor’ two new authors, one of whom is now a bestseller. Last year she received a handful of negative reviews on Amazon and Goodreads because her publisher had compared her work to a mega best seller of the genre and fans of the mega best seller did not agree in very loud voices. And some of those voices on Goodreads in particular were less than kind with a very lengthy debate on the subject raging under the thread of her second book. She telephoned me in a blind panic and deeply upset. After all she’d spent ten years building this futuristic urban fantasy and wasn’t trying to emulate anyone in the first place.

After reminding her that yes reviews can hurt and sometimes feel very ‘unfair’ and filled with inaccuracies etc., but one day she’d look back at how she was feeling and realise it wasn’t the end of the world. Every single writer who publishes work will receive negative reviews that may spark a debate among readers. This, I believe, is wonderful! It means the work has touched a nerve with readers. My advice was Do Not Engage with reviewers anywhere (unless it’s to thank a blogger for taking time to review the work whether they like it or not we must always be professional and polite) and try not to read reviews in the first place. The awesomeness that is James Scott Bell gave me that advice and 95% of the time I follow it. (Readers tend to alert me to reviews, both good and bad if it’s a troll for example). I also reminded her that once a reader purchases a book, that book now belongs to them and frankly they can say and do what they like with it (except break copyright laws).

Twelve months later and she’s in a much better place, more relaxed and can take the rough with the shiny!!

It can be a steep learning curve, especially for new authors, not to take stinging reviews to heart. But that’s all part of being able to take constructive criticism and part of learning the craft, too.

As for badly behaving authors attacking reviewers or trolling other authors in reviews (yes, I’ve seen those under attempted anonymity, too) I believe they are very few and far between. There are posse’s of new indies in certain genres that scratch each other’s back, but readers see through the smoke and mirrors and relentless five star reviews posted within an hour of publication. Authors who indulge in the practice do themselves and other indies no favours, readers are far from stupid and they soon spread the word.

And if I may say so, that was also a great post! 😉

Reminds me of something that happened to another indie author friend of mine a while ago. The very first time she got a bad review, her husband basically said “Well, that’s it then” and got out the help wanted ads.

Fortunately she was wise enough to take the “Yes, that’s nice dear” attitude and stick to her writing. She now has the kind of sales volumes that I can only dream of, and is making a very nice living out of it, thank you very much.

I agree absolutely that the occasional bad review should delight an author. ‘A writer who offends nobody has nothing to say.’ Given the diversity of cranks on the web (yea, and even at Goodreads) somebody is bound to misread a novel or, more usually, not read it at all but attack a target that exists solely in their own minds. I once got a fiery email from a lady who unsubscribed from my list because my latest blog post was titled: ‘Why Men Don’t Like Women Authors and Vice Versa’. ‘It’s sexist!’ she cried. Of course, it was. The purpose of the post was to examine sexism in reader perceptions. But she hadn’t read the post…

For as long as Dan Brown (arguably the worst popular author ever published) can draw five star ratings at Goodreads, and Anthony Burgess rates the occasional one star, there’s hope for us all…

I agree there’s a lot to be said for offending at least someone!

It’s also a good idea to look at not only the absolute pannings some real masterpieces have gotten, but also the 5 star raves of books that truly make your eyes roll.

Helps keep it all in perspective.

Reading is subjective and a matter of personal taste. We can love or dislike a book for many reasons – even very personal reasons that may have nothing to do with the plot or quality of writing. For example, one of the characters could remind the reader of someone in his/her life that they do not like and taint the whole reading experience for them. Unless the majority of reviews are negative, the few negative reviews one might receive may simply be considered a matter of personal taste – the book was simply not for that reader.

Anytime I have given a poor review, I do not bash the book. I lead with a comment towards new readers that might have similar tastes as I do. Example “There is no dialog/action for the first 25 pages. It’s beautifully descriptive but if you need more action, you may find this book boring.” or “If you don’t like the bad boy type for a leading man, this book will not be for you.”

I am hoping by doing this 1) it will let the author know that this book wasn’t for me and not to take it personally and 2) this may prevent those who are not the intended target audience for the book from reading it – which will avoid more 1 or 2 star ratings.

I wouldn’t mind, but nine tenths of the one star reviewers can’t even spell…

[…] that they see nothing wrong with writers being attacked by these low life scumbags. See – https://selfpublishingadvice.org/bad-reviews/ Score one for all writers, and nil for pedants and others of their ilk… […]

What an interesting article! I agree that all five-star reviews shouts inauthenticity (OK, all of mine on one of my book are 5 star, however, one of them records that something was missing from the book, he contacted me about it, I added it, and he’s added the star back on for my quick response and update – wonderful!). I am always pleased with 4 star ones, and even my most critical one makes it plain that the book wasn’t what he was looking for (too many cardigans, he said!) but that wasn’t the book’s fault, so I took that positively, too.

Then again, I’ve had no real stinkers apart from the troll who commented that the images in a book don’t work. I did post a response to that one – that there are no images in the book in the first place! Just to make sure people read that correctly.

Just getting any feedback from a reader is great. If someone is talking about your work then at least they’re interested.

I wear my one star reviews with pride. Especially the one that reads:

“I want to erase this book from my mind. While parts of it are well-written in a lyrical fashion, this is by far the most depraved and perverse thing I have _ever_ read. Out of thousands and thousands of books–including more than a hundred about serial killers and psychosexual deviants–this book has the single worst and most disgusting things in it I have ever laid eyes on.”

Better cover blurb than I could ever have come up with!

On a serious note, whilst it absolutely goes against the spirit of indie to tell authors what to do, it does frustrate me when I see authors complain about reviews and some of the more common reasons I see from indies, either talking about sales impact or their star rating average and how that affects their ability to get Bookbub promotions shows an utter misunderstanding of what the arts in general and reading in particular is about. I’ve even seen more than a handful of authors who write rabidly about their freedom to say absolutely anything in their books regardless of the consequences who will then happily slam reviewers and suggest that readers should keep quiet. If anyone in the books business gets to have their cake and eat it, it’s readers – most decidedly not authors!

That is an AWESOME 1-star review!!! 😀

Reminds me of when the Evil Dead II came out: apparently some reviewer at the time described it as “a playpen for psychotic three year olds”.

They put it on the poster.

As for the rest… I try not to set myself up as any kind of moral authority. I mainly just focus on telling people what works and what doesn’t. And taking on your critics most definitely falls into the “doesn’t” pile.

In fact, it’s pretty much as deep into the “doesn’t” pile as you can get.

I agree … don’t take bad reviews personally … after all people are entitled to an opinion! However, I do feel critics should not slam other reviewers for having an opinion which differs from theirs.

I ticked along with my 5* reviews and smiled at the few royalties trickling into my account. The moment I received my first 3* review, I air-punched the figure in my sales box. It did me no harm. I have seen 1* reviews that state it is a ‘great read’ … not quite what the authors hoped for but I do hope their sales increased.

My favourite take on bad reviews or press comes from the Irish writer, Brendan Behan: “There is no such thing as bad publicity. Except your own obituary.” Thanks for a great post, Theo — we are shortly going to release a programme called “Ethical Author”, which will firm up ALLi’s guidance on how to handle reviews and media.

You’re very welcome, Orna! I’ll be very interested to see how that programme turns out.

I agree that some of the 1* reviews must come from, if not 10 year olds, then teenagers. When Amazon changed the rules so a five word review was acceptable I got a spate of ‘Don’t read this crap book’ and other similar offerings. I do click the ‘no’ button under the review but that’s the extent of my interaction. I rarely read them anyway – I write the best book I can, have it edited and proof read, employ a cover designer, so why get upset when some reviewer complains that the book is unedited/proofed? I was a tad annoyed when one said the book was written by an amateur – after 30+ successful titles I think that was uncalled for.:)

Yup. Deep breath and… walk away.

Yes: the only person who won one of my books in a Goodreads Giveaway gave it a thumbs-down review. However, it was patently clear that he had expected the book to be other than it was: so anyone who read what he wrote and did want a novel based on a romance between young bio scientists, with a lot of the science present on the page, would know in advance whether or not they would like it – useful to buyers!

I guess I did make a mistake with the title – Baby, Baby (which related to the fertility research angle) could actually be very misleading in the ‘is this romance erotica?” department. Lesson for author here.

One of my MA in Creative Writing tutors told me that ink on paper is always positive. We were discussing ‘no thank you’ replies from agents. ‘They wouldn’t bother to reply if there wasn’t something in your manuscript that had impressed them,’ was his next comment. I think same goes for negative reviews. The way I look at it, any comments are a bonus, even the crazy ones. (Obviously I don’t bother with agents any more).

Good post, thank you for sharing your expertise.

Thank you, Helena!

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Reader reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are critical for online book sales . But too many bad reviews can tank your book’s success, especially if the negative reviews come shortly after your launch. 

The first reviews your book receives are the most important. They set the tone for future reader reviews. Your first reviews must be good, and that is why having a  strong book launch  is important.

You need to know:

Where do negative book reviews come from?

Source #1 politics.

Rest assured, I’m not talking about political politics. If your book touts the virtues of Ford, don’t be surprised if Chevy fans leave you negative reviews. If you hype the iPhone, don’t let negative reviews from Android users get under your skin.

If you take a stand with your book, be it fiction or nonfiction, you will get negative reviews from people who disagree. The good news is those reviews are rarely about the book itself. Most people don’t pay to read books they disagree with. Instead, they will be critiquing your public appearances and your associations.

Many of the unfavorable critiques of Jordan Peterson’s book  12 Principles for Life (Affiliate Link) do not address the book itself. Negative reviewers speak about him as a person. They criticize his affiliations or comments he has made outside of the book.

Politically motivated negative reviews boost your sales. Let me say that again.  Politically motivated negative reviews boost your sales.

If your book is about how amazing Ford is, negative reviews from Chevy fans cause Ford fans to love you more. So celebrate! 

What to do about these negative reviews:

Source #2 Expectations Mismatch

Bait your fishing hook with bait that attracts the kind of fish you want to catch. If you don’t want to catch catfish, don’t use stinkbait! The same holds true for how you  promote and place  your book.

Bad reviews typically come when the reader’s expectations do not match what the book delivers.  

If the book looks like a dark urban fantasy and turns out to be Christian literary fiction, that mismatch will result in bad reviews. A mismatch will also repel the right readers who would have left good reviews. 

Reader expectations come from:

Other Books in the Same Genre

If the other books in your genre all include a kissing scene, and your book does not, then you will end up with an expectations mismatch. 

If your cover indicates the book is a cozy romance, and in reality, it is a steamy romance, you will get some negative reviews.

When I say a book has a “bad” cover, I do not mean it is pretty or ugly. A “bad” cover is simply using the wrong bait to catch the right readers.

A book cover is meant to attract readers. A pretty cover that attracts the wrong readers is worse than an ugly cover that attracts the right kind of readers. 

Good covers attract the right readers.

If you want to catch catfish, don’t complain about the smell of the bait. 

The Title & Blurb

You can explicitly set expectations for your book in your title, blurb, and back cover. If they are well-written, each piece of the cover makes a promise to the reader. The reader wants what you’ve promised, so they go ahead and purchase your book. If you make a promise on the back cover, you must fulfill that promise before the book ends.

Previous Books 

You may not realize it, but you set reader expectations with every book you write. 

Readers expect your next book to be like the previous books. The more you deviate from those expectations, the more negative reviews you will get. 

If your first books have no explicit language, but your fifth book has lots of cussing, expect bad reviews. 

If the first four books in your series featured space battles, but your fifth book is nothing but political intrigue, expect bad reviews. 

If your first three books were about how amazing Ford is, and your fourth book is about how you are now a Chevy driver, expect unhappy readers.  

What to do about negative reviews caused by a mismatch:

Source #3 Sabotage

Some authors falsely believe that the only path to the top of the rankings is to displace the authors above them by pulling them down.  

One way they accomplish this is by hiring several dozen (or several hundred) people to leave negative reviews. This is a black hat marketing technique called “review-bombing,” and I never recommend black hat tactics. However, you need to know what to do if someone is review-bombing you.

If your book normally gets 2-5 reviews a week and suddenly you get 20 negative reviews in a few days, you may be the target of sabotage. While review-bombing is painful, there are ways to have the reviews removed. 

How to Get Negative Reviews Taken Down

Step 1: study the amazon rules  .

With the  Amazon rules  in hand, you can make a case that will hold up in “Amazon Court.” When you initiate a complaint, the first human to read your complaint will be an underpaid Amazon employee who reads a lot of complaints all day long. 

To make it easy for this employee to remove the negative comments, quote the specific Amazon rule the review has violated. 

Most Useful Rules: 

If someone calls you a name, you can get their review removed . “Don’t engage in name-calling or attack people based on whether you agree with them. You may question the beliefs and expertise of others as long as it is relevant and done in a respectful and non-threatening manner.”

If someone cusses in their review, you can sometimes get it removed . “Don’t post content that is obscene, pornographic, or lewd, or that contains nudity or sexually explicit images.”   

Very mean reviews are the easiest to get removed . “Don’t post content that is libelous, defamatory, harassing, threatening, or inflammatory. For example, don’t use obscenities or profanity, and don’t express hatred or intolerance for people on the basis of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender or gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, age, or disability, including by promoting organizations with such views.” (Sometimes Amazon proactively removes reviews that violate these guidelines.)

If a competing author leaves you a review, you can get it taken down regardless of what it says. Just point out that they are a competitor . “Users are forbidden from “Creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your competitors’ products or services.” 

If you get 30 bad reviews in two days, there is a good chance compensation has taken place . Users are forbidden from “Offering compensation or requesting compensation (including free or discounted products) in exchange for creating, modifying, or posting content.”

There are more rules, so  study them . Many negative reviews violate Amazon’s rules.

Step 2: Click “Report Abuse “

In your report, cite the specific rule the reviewer has violated. I suspect Amazon outsources the chore of reviewing abuse complaints to workers in other countries. Make your written complaint clear and simple. Don’t use big words, and quote the specific rule that has been violated.  

Step 3: Ask your fans to report it as well. 

You will likely need a dozen abuse complaints to have the review removed. Don’t ask your fans to downvote the offending review, as this can backfire. Instead, ask friends to upvote other reviews by clicking the “helpful” button. 

Source #4 Quality Control Issues

Quality Control concerns may include broken hyperlinks in your ebook, shipping issues, and production problems like, “My book was missing the last 50 pages.” Sometimes people leave negative reviews about a specific typo or a repeated typo.

What to do about negative reviews about quality issues:

Source #5 Jealousy (and Other Internal Issues)

If the review has nothing to do with your book, the reviewer is probably unable to see past their own issues. I faced this with my book on dating and relationships. Some of my negative feedback was nothing but the reviewer’s personal love story. Since I hadn’t told their story, in their view, my book was wrong. 

Once you are successful, you will get more out-of-nowhere, mean reviews. They are a sign of your success and other people’s jealousy. 

Another internal issue that leads to bad reviews is chest-beating. When a know-it-all reviewer disagrees with a small point or points out a fact you got wrong, he’s simply communicating his need for people to think he is the smartest one in the room. These people start sentences with, “Well actually…” and most readers hate the self-important musings of a know-it-all. 

What to do about mean reviews:

Bad Reviews Validate The Good Reviews

Believe it or not, some bad reviews  improve  your book sales. 

One of the surprising things about Amazon in the early years was that products with one-star reviews outsold products without one-star reviews. You don’t want all the one-star reviews to go away. You want a high average number of stars with a few bad reviews sprinkled in to give the good reviews credibility. 

You never want all the bad reviews to go away. 

Finally, remember that you are not your book! If someone dislikes your book, it doesn’t mean they dislike you. If they truly don’t like you, it doesn’t mean they are right. 

Mean people are emotionally unhealthy and often feel miserable inside.

The best response is to pity the mean reviewer. Then give thanks for all the people who taught you manners, civility, and kindness.

Registration for the 2020 Book Launch Blueprint ends this week! 

Don’t miss it! Learn how to launch your book with a launch team so you’ll have an influx of good reviews right away. A launch team is critical for garnering a good number of positive reviews in the first two weeks. 

If you do miss out, we will offer the course again in 2021. Subscribe to the AuthorMedia.com email newsletter to be notified about the 2021 Book Launch Blueprint. 

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The older my children get, the louder they get. I have a new tool to fight toddler noise on the podcast. I connected a special orange lamp to a smart wifi outlet plug. With a click on my computer or phone, I can turn on the light. We call this the “quiet light” and are trying to coach the children to be especially quiet while the light is on.

The light is positioned where you can see it from all the areas of the house where noise can get into my studio. The ugly orange light is obvious and can’t be missed. I thought this was a very clever solution for a work-from-home podcasting dad.

There is only one problem. We are not entirely sure if Mercy, our 19-month-old, understands the concept of “quiet.” Tommy, the 5-month-old certainly has no idea.  

I will admit this is a flaw in my system. A quiet light only works for children who understand what it means. But I hold out hope that they will figure it out. 

If you have any parenting tips or want to call our listener helpline to ask a question we can address in a future episode, you can call the listener helpline at 512-827-8377. You can also send a high-quality recording to AuthorMedia.com/contact.

books bad reviews

Great overview! Very useful quick guide. Never considered the politics angle. But it totally makes sense.

Anne M

This is such an important topic for authors. Book reviews are hard to come by at first and negative reviews and be hard to swallow. Thanks for the insight!

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Book Reviews

Margaret atwood's 'old babes in the wood' tackles what it means to be human.

Gabino Iglesias

Cover of Old Babes in the Wood

Margaret Atwood, without a doubt one of the greatest living writers, is best known for her incredibly successful and award-winning novels The Handmaid's Tale and, more recently, The Testaments .

However, she is also an extraordinary short story writer — and Old Babes in the Wood , her first collection in almost a decade, is a dazzling mixture of stories that explore what it means to be human while also showcasing Atwood's gifted imagination and great sense of humor.

Old Babes in the Wood contains 15 stories, some of which have previously appeared in The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine . The collection is divided into three parts. The first and last, titled "Tig & Nell" and "Nell & Tig," revolve around a married couple and look, more or less, at their entire lives — what they've done and felt, the people that left a mark on them, their thoughts. These stories, which taken together feel like a mosaic novella more than literary bookends for a collection, offer a deep, heartfelt, engrossing look at the minutiae of life. The middle part, titled "My Evil Mother," is perhaps the crowning jewel in this collection and brings together eight unique tales that vary wildly in terms of tone, voice, theme, and format. From imagined interviews and stories told by aliens to the circle of life and a snail trapped in the body of a woman, these tales show Atwood's characteristic insight and intellect while also putting on full display her ability to make us laugh, her chronicler's eye for detail, and her unparalleled imagination. There are no throwaway stories in this collection, but several demand their time in the spotlight. "Morte de Smudgie," about the death of a cat, is a perfect portrait of the unique kind of grief that follows the loss of a beloved pet. "My Evil Mother" follows a mother-daughter relationship through the years and shows how, and why, many people eventually become just like their parents. In "The Dead Interview," Atwood "interviews" author George Orwell through a medium in a trance. Part tribute and part celebratory deconstruction of Orwell's oeuvre and persona, this one becomes unexpectedly funny and shows just how on top of everything Atwood is as she tries to explain things like the internet, getting "cancelled," anti-vaxxers, and even the January 6 coup attempt to Orwell. "Impatient Griselda" explores, through the translated voice of an alien that looks like an octopus and doesn't have all the words it needs to communicate perfectly, estrangement and miscommunication. "Bad Teeth" is a fun vignette about friendship that follows two old friends as one of them insists on asking why the other had an affair with a man with bad teeth, but the affair never happened.

In "Death by Clamshell," Hypatia of Alexandria narrates her own murder and offers her thoughts on how she's morphed into different things to different groups of people in the centuries since her death. And she does so with great energy and a good sense of humor about it: "I try to look on the bright side: I did not have to endure the indignities of extreme old age." In "Metempsychosis: or, The Journey of the Soul," the narrator is a snail whose soul "jumped directly from snail to human" after it got sprayed with a homemade, environmentally friendly pesticide. The snail's desire to return to its previous form, and its understandable shock at human behavior and practices, quickly morph into a truly eye-opening, heartfelt read about yearning and feeling out of place.

Old Babes in the Wood is touching, smart, funny, and unique in equal measure. Atwood, who's always had her finger on the pulse of modern society, tackles everything from love and the afterlife to the importance of language and the pandemic (fans of The Handmaid's Tale will love "Freeforall," which is a return to themes of motherhood with a political angle and plenty of social commentary). Throughout all these stories, Atwood's usual wit is always present, and she offers plenty of memorable characters and lines. "That is what it is to be human, I suppose: to question the terms of existence," says the snail trapped inside a woman in "Metempsychosis." That line echoes throughout the collection. It's been almost a decade since Atwood's previous short story collection, Stone Mattress , was published. Not surprisingly, the wait was worth it. Old Babes in the Wood showcases Atwood's imagination and her perennial obsession with getting to the core of what makes us human while dishing out plenty of entertainment and eye-opening revelations along the way. At this point, Atwood has nothing left to prove. But she writes like she wants the world to notice her work — and that fire makes it easy to react every time she publishes something: We know we must sit down, read, and be in awe of her talent.

Gabino Iglesias is an author, book reviewer and professor living in Austin, Texas. Find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias .

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Writing Negative Book Reviews


How to craft a review when you didn't like the book

"Book Reviews" is written in different colors and fonts.

Have you ever finished a book and felt dissatisfied? It's really no surprise, because even the most enthusiastic book lovers don't enjoy everything they read.

If you're asked to write a review on a book you didn't like, it's important not to feel guilty or intimidated. Instead, think of book reviews as a way to come to terms with what you've read. You'll find there's still a lot to write about, even if you wouldn't recommend the book to other readers.

There's plenty of advice on how to write book reviews , but there are a few extra points to consider when your opinion of a book is mostly negative. Whether you disliked the plot or disagreed with the thesis, it can be harder to remain objective in your analysis. Here are four tips to keep in mind.

1) Be specific and provide examples

A book review is all about self-expression, so you should be open and honest in your writing. It's important, however, to justify any claims you make with solid evidence. For example, if you thought the characterization was weak, be prepared to explain why. Book reviews can be quite short, but you'll have room to discuss at least a few passages that illustrate your arguments. When you have a negative reaction to a book, it's sometimes hard to articulate your feelings, but it's always important to be precise .

2) Consider the author's perspective

Whether you liked a book or not, book reviews are an excellent way to get inside the author's mind. When crafting your arguments, try to consider the author's motivations for writing the way he or she did. Sometimes, this can help you understand or even appreciate his or her perspective on a deeper level. Even if you come away with a negative impression, at least you'll have some insight into the author's creative process, which can inform or even inspire your own work.

3) Balance weaknesses with strengths (when possible)

In any good review, balance is essential because it lends the reviewer more credibility. Even if you strongly disliked the book, a review should touch on both its strengths and weaknesses. If you feel stumped, try creating a list of the book's pros and cons. For every negative quality, jot down a positive one, even if it's only something small. For example, you may have disliked a book's ending but thought the introduction was imaginative and compelling. Or maybe you enjoyed a section of dialogue, even if you didn't appreciate the overall plot. Balanced book reviews are important because they show you can see both sides of the coin.

4) Don't let emotions get the best of you

Books can affect us on a very deep, emotional level. If you feel disappointed or angry after reading something, it can be difficult to remain levelheaded in your analysis. Before you let emotions get the best of you, consider who might end up reading your review. Although you may feel like spilling all your thoughts out onto the page (or screen), the fact is that not everyone will understand your negativity. Book reviews are naturally critical, but just as in a complaint letter , your arguments should always be polite and tasteful. Most importantly, you should never attack the author—or another reader, for that matter—on a level that's too personal.

In book reviews, your voice goes a long way

Book reviews are important to the literary world, so don't shy away! As a book reviewer, you'll be helping other readers understand and appreciate the written word. You may not always love what you read, but that doesn't mean you can't entertain and inspire through your writing.

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Wonderful One Star Funny Book Reviews I Have Received On Amazon

Wonderfully Bad Book Reviews

Terrible one-star funny book reviews for your Kindle book are not as bad as you think.

Call me a twisted masochist, but there is something perversely pleasurable that I adore about one-star bad book reviews.

I have been fortunate enough to gain, mostly, wonderful feedback and positive reviews on Amazon from readers.

But it never ceases to amaze me what some ‘ let’s stick the boot in,’ readers find worth commenting on after reading (or perhaps only possibly reading) my books.

What can I attack?

Usually, bad reviews involve ignoring the story entirely and finding fault in anything from my UK spelling to hating the cover of my book on Amazon.

With a little imagination, I suppose, there is always something to dislike about any book – or any author.

For those new to writing and self-publishing, bad one-star Amazon reviews can come as an unpleasant shock.

It can even be a depressing experience, especially if the reviews seem to attack the author personally.

But they are a reality, and for any author with a thin skin who struggles to deal with them, it’s time to toughen up.

Don’t jump off the nearest balcony or in front of a train.

Learn to accept them and understand that someone went to a lot of trouble to leave a review on your book, even if it was less than complimentary.

A few bad one-star rating book reviews are a fact of life

Let’s face it, a book with only five-star reviews looks like it could be using fake or paid reviews.

Negative reviews are, in fact, necessary and beneficial for balance and to show that your book has been read and reviewed by more than just your family.

In a perverse sense, a book needs a couple of bad reviews from honest reviewers to validate the credibility of all the other good reviews a book receives.

To give a taste of the flavor of one-star book reviews, here is a small selection below of a few of my favorite bad, yet funny book reviews I have received.

In reading 34% of this book I have documented 17 typos, and I stopped counting all the incomplete sentences in the first 10%.

As far as fast moving, this story read slower than Jane Austen or Dostoyevsky.

Well, how many pages is 34%, and sentence fragments stopped being counted after 10%? Why did you stop at 10%?

Perhaps my British English spelling accounted for some of the typos. But to be ranked up there with Jane Austen and Dostoyevsky is quite a backhanded compliment. Nice!

Oh, by the way, you missed a third person ‘ s ‘ on read. The story read s ! Typo to you at the 87% point of your review.

Some of my favorite bad but funny book reviews

It’s utterly banal, although Haines comes across as a person who it may be fun to have a drink with.

Cheers! I’ll drink to that. So when do we meet for a banal beer?

I am afraid that unless you are a fairly interesting person leading a fairly interesting life (let us say a Bill Bryson), writing a book about yourself and your opinions usually is not really interesting.

Who is Bill Bryson? Anyway, I’ve met Charles Aznavour and Phil Collins, which I think is interesting?

But you’re right. I am really boring, as most writers are.

I’ll be sure to write in the third person next time to make myself sound more interesting.

It was kind of silly to me. Might like it, it is SyFy but I did not care for the story line.

Um, I think you meant sci-fi. Oh, and of course, it was silly. The story is a farce, and a farce is a bit silly.

Eh, who might like it? I’m really sorry, but your grammar lost me in translation. But did you happen to like the cover?

where are all these high reviews coming from?

From readers actually. You know, those people who buy and read books, to the end. By the way, in my book, a sentence usually starts with a capital letter.

As you can see, my little selection of terribly bad reviews was actually quite fun.

So, if you get a bad one-star book review, don’t get upset, and definitely, do not respond to them.

Some of these one-star reviewers are habitual and seeking attention.

Replying and trying to defend yourself, or argue, only plays to what they would like – more attention. 

Just have a laugh, or a quick little cry, and be thankful that someone went to the trouble of writing a review of your book.

I have one last important note about one-star book reviews.

Without fail, they are almost always posted on ebooks that are perma-free or have been part of a free book giveaway, especially on Kindle.

If you would prefer to attract fewer meaner book reviews , perhaps avoid giving your ebooks away for free too often.

Further reading:   How To Handle Negative People And Spiteful Criticism Online

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent writing and blogging, as well as testing and taming new technology.

Avatar for Derek Haines

19 thoughts on “ Wonderful One Star Funny Book Reviews I Have Received On Amazon ”

Avatar for Corrine Ardoin

Thank you, so much, for this article. After discovering some 2-star ratings on Goodreads for my newly launched book (which they received free), I needed some perspective and found it in your articles. I have also heard a wonderful radio interview on the same topic, a newly launched book getting a horrible rating, their first rating on Amazon that sits there like an ugly face on their book’s review section.

Well, I can toughen up, but I also agree that Goodreads and giving away books for free are probably a waste of time and money. They are getting the book free, then saying the book’s not for them. Why say anything? My parents taught me, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. I try to look at the author’s heart and soul that went into the writing of their novel and imagine if it were me, before I write a review, But, some people, like you say, can’t help themselves. One thing I learned from the radio interview I heard, was to take a look at the other ratings said 2-star or 1-star reader left for other books. I did. And, the only books they gave 5-stars for were children’s books, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Every adult book, except romance novels, were given 2-stars. So, there you go. I think. All in all, my life has not been bettered by Goodreads, so I think I will let it go. My life has not been bettered by Facebook either. I discovered a new site, just for authors, and I love it.

Avatar for T.L. Criswell

I love this post! It you want to be a writer “tough skin” is a must. The low reviews do sting, however, they help you grow, especially if it’s detailed. I received a low review from “Indie reader” once. He said, “This book was Smothered in emotion. Reminded him of classic novel by Louise Merriwether Daddy was a number runner. A clumsily executed afternoon TV special.” The PR lady said “ I’m so sorry, I won’t post it.” I said “Yes you will.“

In many cases when a reviewer just attacks the editing, you have to brush those off. There’s always someone who can find something wrong with you book. I had a review attack my editing on my latest book. It sounds much like your review. After it was posted, an editor immediately Inboxed me telling me she could fix it for a few grand. I said, “I’ll pass.

Anyway, awesome post!

Avatar for Irene

I have very few reviews so getting the nasty 1-star on Goodreads was disheartening. Especially when he only read one chapter. He also commented on a supposed typo in the first sentence and grammatical errors that were not really errors.

You’re right about attention-getting. That’s all this was. He either gave 1-star reviews with a lot of drivel or 4-5 stars that said something like, “f***ing good read.” Thanks for your humorous take on this topic.

Avatar for Barbara Lorna Hudson

On my self-published anthology Click to Click: Tales of Internet Dating.:”the worst book I have ever read.”

Avatar for Ashok Shenolikar

It’s better to get a review than no review at all

Avatar for Alexandra R. Lajoux

Great post! It helped me see the humor in the one-star review I recently got for my book on bank M&A:

One star “it provides little technical details about how the M&A actually works. most of the contents are paraphrases of relevant legal standards. anyways, the author is a literature PhD who has never been in banking” Shuyan Wang

No matter that financial services is a highly regulated industry, so any book about bank mergers must include them; no matter that the book presents extensive guidance on valuation as well as law; no matter that my coauthor was a banker; .no matter than I have an MBA and decades of experience in financial research. No….this reader was disappointed and lashed out, citing my PhD in literature as a tragic flaw……

I have coauthored nine books in the Art of M&A series for McGraw-Hill and I think this will be my last.

It is time to write the Great American Novel. I may cast Shuyan Wang as the nemesis for my heroine! Alexandra Reed Lajoux

Avatar for Alexandra Reed Lajoux

Correction: “must include them” has no antecedent for the pronoun! Eeek! I should have written “must include rules and reg’s.”

Avatar for Martin Vause

My estranged sister left me a damaging one-star book review. She’s never even seen the book!

Avatar for Paul Edwards

A friend had to explain that; “It’s a story, Jim, but not as we know it” was a bad review. Up to that point, I’d been quite flattered by the analysis. At least the reviewer was sufficiently moved to post. Positive thinker or delusional? I suppose that’s for others to say…

The most outrageous one I have ever seen was 1 star and comment that the reviewer had returned the book unread because of the price.

Avatar for Derek Haines

I think I had the same creep once! lol

Avatar for Karen

Hahahaha! A banal beer! Loved this post :)

Avatar for Christine Robinson

Derek, a great post. The one star review bit made sense. Oh, oh…there are a couple of your typos! But, never mind, the post content overrides them. Christine

Typos!! Oh dear!! Please tell.

Avatar for Noelle Granger

I find it amazing that the one star reviewers can’t write worth a penny. Your examples were very humorous, and it might be hard to take them seriously..

Avatar for Kevin

Its great you can laugh at yourself. There is wisdom in your amusing post. Regards. Kevin

Avatar for Jack Eason

Kind of reminds me of a particular one star for one of my books Derek:

“The story dosent really pull the reader in. The writing is ment for a very young reader. The story line is rather boring.”

Note that the ‘reviewer’ can’t spell to save themselves! ;)

Avatar for Lutheranliar

Hahahahaha! But seriously. Very intelligently put, especially the bit about having no bad reviews looking, well, suspicious. Am now more than tempted to read more of your stuff.

Wonderful! Now I await your cutting one star review! lol :)

Comments are closed.

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Aleksandra Mir

'BAD Reviews' by Aleksandra Mir

Marilyn Minter, BAD Review , 1995

Dear Artist

I am planning to publish an artist's book called BAD Reviews , a collection of bad art reviews in the form of quotes, transcripts and reproductions of previously published material.

I take the view that the bad art review is a near extinct form of creative writing which deserves to be honored, and who better suited to do this, than the artist concerned?

I know you were subject to many bad reviews in the early stages of your career and so will greatly appreciate your contributions to this book.

Whether you were hurt or amused, affected or not, the creative energy that went into describing your work in derogatory terms stands for a commitment and is a marker of its time.

I will only publish material that has been voluntarily submitted by the artists themselves, so no slander, but a genuine investigation into the nature of criticism.

I accept original reviews in all languages, which I will endeavor to translate to English. Please send high res scans of printed material, or links to publishing online.

My co-editor on the project Tim Griffin, Director at the Kitchen in NYC, will host a first launch and live reading event when the book will be completed.

The more artists who contribute, and the more material there will be, the more of a substantial survey we can collectively create, so please do forward this mail to your colleagues.

All contributors will receive updates and a copy of the book.

Bad wishes,

"…Aleksandra Mir, from Lubin, in Poland, is another maker of new maps of the USA, across which she declares the Cold War to be Hot Stuff, in the style of a mustard advert in a hamburger outlet…Young America is a bottomless source of the stuff. This entire display stinks of stupidity and an absent education. Has anyone here read a book or studied history or looked at a Botticelli or questioned a technique or patiently thought their way through an artistic conundrum? Not a chance. This is a generation of paint-happy know- nothings brought up on hamburgers and porn, a talentless bloom of post-pop trailer trash that makes our own Brit Artists look like a parade of Einsteins by comparison".

Waldemar Januszczak, Don't want to be an American idiot, Review of USA Today at the Royal Academy, The Sunday Times, London, 8 Oct 2006

Update January 2016:

This email has already reached artists of every generation around the world and over 100 have pledged their contributions, including AA Bronson, Adriana Lara, Andy Hope 1930, Betty Tompkins, Candice Breitz, Chaira Fumai, Christian Jankowski, Cindy Sherman, Constant Dullaart, Dan Perjovschi, Dara Friedman, David Salle, Deborah Kass, Elizabeth Magill, Genco Gulan, Hector Zamora, Grazia Toderi, Henrik Plenge Jakobsen, James Siena, Jenny Saville, Jeremy Deller, Jessica Stockholder, Josephine Meckseper, Laurie Simmons, Lee Bul, Liane Lang, Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen, Lothar Hempel, Marzel Dzama, Marilyn Minter, Matthew Ronay, Matthieu Laurette, Michelle Grabner, Mickalene Thomas, Monica Bonvicini, Pierre Leguillon, Pipilotti Rist, Rachel Harrison, Richard Kern, Ryan Gander, Scott King, Slater Bradley, Steve Miller, Sue Williams, Superflex, Suzanne Treister, The Bruce High Quality Foundation, Walead Beshty, Zoe Strauss and others.

We are equally excited by the enthusiastic response from the most established of artists who are going back to their decades old paper archives, as by the youngest who are sending us their most recent links.

We understand it takes time to search through your archives so there is no immediate deadline. Just let us know if you are interested and we will wait for your contribution.

Simina Neagu, and independent researcher is now also on board to help source paper originals or assists with helping to find your long lost reviews. If you only have a few pointers or a vague memory, she will help with the library research.

Everyone who has great material to add is welcome. Please spread the word.

Update July 2017:

As we are still researching older material, in particular reviews printed only on paper, and of living artists active in the 60s, 70s and 80s, the publication has been postponed to at least 2018.

We still accept contributions at this stage.

Update May 2022: We did it! Thanks to everyone involved.

'BAD Reviews' by Aleksandra Mir

This artists' book by 150 artists is not commercially available but shared amongst the same contributing 150 artists and a select number of art libraries around the world:  

Academy of Fine Arts, Gdansk Accademia di Belle Arti G. Carrara di Bergamo American University of Paris Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam Aranoff Center for Design and Art, The University of Cincinnati Arthouse, Shkodër Art School Library, University of Woolongong Art University Linz Avery Library, Columbia University, NYC Barber Art Library, University of Birmingham Bard College, Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson Bennington College, VT Bernard Knaus Fine Art, Frankfurt Birch House, University for the Creative Arts, Farnham Bobst Library, New York University Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design, Halle Café Frieda, Berlin CalArts, Valencia Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh Columbus College of Art & Design Center for Art, Research and Alliances, NYC Center for Book Arts, NYC Centre National Édition Art Image, Paris Chert Lüdde, Berlin City University New York Cleveland Institute of Art, OH Cloud Seven, Brussels Delfina Foundation, London Detroit Institute of Arts Drawing Room, London DuplexDuplex, Vancouver Ecart Archive Library, Geneva École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris École Nationale Supérieure d'Arts de Paris Cergy Expertisecentrum SintLucas, Eindhoven First Floor Gallery, Harare Frac des Pays De la Loire Francesco Pantaleone Arte Contemporanea, Palermo Frans Masereel Centrum, Kasterlee FREIRAUM, Düsseldorf Fundacio Antoni Tapies Library, Barcelona Galerie 3AP, Düsseldorf Gallery Go Go, Portland Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles George Washington University, DC Giselle's Books, Marseille Guggenheim Museum, New York HEAD, Geneva Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden Hosmer Gallery, Northampton Iceland University of the Arts, Reykjavík Iniva Arts / Stuart Hall Library, London Institute of Fine Arts Library, New York University Institut für Kunst im Kontext, UDK, Berlin International Center of Photography, New York Ikiagai Arts Center, Phnom Pehn Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover Konsthall Tornedalen, Vitsaniemi Kunsthal Aarhus Kunstmuseum Schloss Derneburg
 Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen Kunsthalle Zurich LAXART, Los Angeles Leeds Art University London College of Communication Library London Metropolitan University L’OEil de Poisson, Quebec City M+, Hong Kong Marine Studios, Margate MAMCO, Geneva Massachusetts Collage of Art and Design Matts gallery, London MBAC Bibliothèque et archives, Ottawa Minneapolis Institute of Art Modern Art Oxford MoMA Library, NYC MoRE Museum, Parma Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand Museum in Progress, Vienna Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, Ljubljana Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto Museum of Modern Art, New York Myndlistaskólinn, Reykjavík National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa New York University, Berlin NGC Library and Archives | MBAC Bibliothèque et archives, Ottawa Nottingham Trent University Ocean Space, Venice Oslo University Paula Modersohn-Becker Museum, Bremen Piet Zwart Instituut, Rotterdam Pomona College, Claremont Prater Galerie, Berlin Pratt Institute, Brooklyn Rat School of Arts, Seoul Royal College of Art, London Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt School of the Art Institute of Chicago SF MoMA, San Francisco Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Städelschule, Frankfurt Stuart Hall Library / Invia, London St George’s School, Edinburgh Stockholm University Library Sunderland University, Thessaloniki Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong Tate, Library Collections, London The Australian National University, Canberra The Courtauld Institute of Art, London The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York The Royal Danish Library, Copenhagen Tony Smith Foundation, NYC Treti Galaxie, Ovada University for the Creative Arts, Farnham University of Applied Arts, Vienna University of Helsinki University of Otago Library, Dunedin University of the West of England, Bristol VALIE EXPORT Center Linz Victoria College of Arts, University of Melbourne Villa Arson, École Nationale Supérieure d'Arts, Nice Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam Yale Haas Arts Library, New Haven Zembla Gallery, Little Lindisfarne Stirches, Scottish Borders      


All artists contributed their own BAD Review Edited by Aleksandra Mir & Tim Griffin Editorial assistance by Katy Dammers, Nicole Kaack, Simina Neagu Research assistance by Jose Carrazana, Alice Centamore, John Elammar, Nicole Kaiser, Sabina Kissack and Isabella St. Ivany Designed by Nick Stone Special Thanks Caroline Schneider

ISBN 978-1-9993208-2-9

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Star Wars: The Bad Batch (Disney+)

‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch’ season 2 episode 13 ‘Pabu’ recap/review

Last week’s episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch concluded with Crosshair finally reaching his breaking point with the Empire. Unfortunately, his cathartic execution of Imperial Lieutenant Nolan resulted in the sharpshooter being taken to the Mount Tantiss mad science facility . Based on what Dr. Scalder said before injecting him with a sedative, it’s safe to assume this won’t be a routine medical visit.

This week, we rejoin the Bad Batch as they finally decide to stop working for Cid . This leads to yet another (mostly) self-contained adventure story, albeit one that cleverly plays homage to a classic movie/franchise.

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Anything Goes

Star Wars: The Bad Batch (Disney+)

As expected, the rest of the Bad Batch are there to back Phee up. A gunfight ensues that results in Phee and the Bad Batch escaping with the credits and the artifact. Omega also appeared to totally kill a guy and seriously injure another.

*Side Note: If you’re an Indiana Jones fan and this scene felt familiar, then you aren’t crazy. It was actually paying homage to the opening scene from ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.’

Back on the Marauder , Phee notes how impressed she is with Omega, but also expresses concern that all the girl knows thus far is the life of a soldier.

Their conversation is interrupted by a holographic voicemail from Cid, who chastises them for cutting ties with her and warns them to reconsider lest there be consequences. Phee suggests that the Bad Batch allow her to show them a hidden sanctuary where they can hide out.

Welcome to Paradise

*Side Note: HUH??

While the Bad Batch get a history lesson on the beautiful location, Omega is approached by some friendly moon-yos (i.e. adorable green monkeys). Tech notes that he hasn’t heard Omega laugh or sound so happy in a very long time. Shep tells Hunter that many come to Pabu to escape galactic conflicts and live a peaceful life — something he could definitely do with his adopted daughter.

Wave of Realization

The verdict.

Even if I did, their potential coupling is completely out of left field. I get trying to make opposites attract, but there has to be some type of believable chemistry for it to work. A potential romance between Hunter and Phee actually has potential (and makes a lot more sense). Tech and Phee, on the other hand, make absolutely no sense together. Maybe they would if we ever saw signs of interest/flirtation before now, but I definitely can’t remember any.

Unfortunately, the Tech/Phee romance is nowhere near the worst part of this episode. While it does set up what’s sure to be a very temporary new home for the Bad Batch (before Cid inevitably betrays them), all ‘Padu’ does is give the “tHeRe Is nO sUcH tHiNg aS a FiLlEr EpIsOdE” people a way to excuse just how awful this one was. After the admittedly fun opening, the stakes are the lowest we’ve ever seen. Even during the conveniently timed tsunami, it was obvious that no one was in any danger.

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REVIEW: Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 2 Episode 13 Presents the Biggest Challenge of All

The Bad Batch, the group face their deadliest challenge of all: a viable and genuinely peaceful place to call home. Here's CBR's review.

If all that an individual has ever been bred for is to be a soldier, what do they become during times of peace? Increasingly, this is the central theme Jennifer Corbett and Dave Filoni's excellent Star Wars: The Bad Batch is exploring. From the previous episode chronicling Crosshair reaching the inevitable and tragic end of his commitment to the Empire to this week tackling an entirely different kind of challenge for the core Bad Batch, Star Wars: The Bad Batch continues to deepen its exploration of these characters and themes in deeply resonant ways.

The latest episode, "Pabu," sees the titular team on the run after cutting ties with their former would-be boss, Cid. They do, however, regroup with Phee for a job. Evolving into Phee taking them to her homeworld, Pabu. On Pabu, the Batch finds a peaceful preservation away from the Empire's reign, where community and kindness are put first. Subsequently, each member of the Batch is challenged in their own unique and idiosyncratic way to open up and accept kindness in a way they never have before.

RELATED: The Bad Batch Continues to Prove That Clone Commanders Deserved Better

"Pabu" is absolutely delightful. It's a bright, colorful, gorgeously animated thirty minutes of television. The script, written by Amanda Rose Muñoz is so full of heart and feels so concentrated in the intimacy of what it pulls off. Star Wars is full of stories wherein central characters' core beliefs are challenged by new external conflicts. Muñoz's writing takes this mentality and applies it to the Bad Batch, a group of characters who have only ever known or been bred for conflict, and posits that perhaps the greatest challenge to each of them as characters is actually to find peace, happiness, and a home.

It's lovely to see the characters authentically challenged. Wanda Sykes's Phee has become such a secret weapon for The Bad Batch this season , showing up in sparing doses to challenge the beliefs of the characters and serve as a new set of eyes for Omega in exciting form. Simultaneously, Dee Bradley Baker as Hunter, Wrecker, and Tech and Michelle Ang as Omega find new nuances within their own characters and deliver tremendous work.

There is inevitably conflict within the episode, but even that is handled with a special kind of warmth. The conflict doesn't exist to shake the characters' belief in the sanctity and possibility of Pabu as a home but rather to fortify it through action. It's a fine line to walk, staging an almost biblically-epic disaster sequence on an immense scale while keeping the focus on the characters, yet director Steward Lee and his team pull it off with grace.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch continues to deliver character-driven, phenomenal storytelling every week. It has truly been such a joy watching this season, with Jennifer Corbett and Dave Filoni's team clicking into place and creating into something personal within the Star Wars universe . Animated series such as The Clone Wars and Rebels each had their own respective seasons where everything came together in stunning form, and this season has been very much all of that and more for Star Wars: The Bad Batch .

Star Wars: The Bad Batch releases on Wednesdays at 3 AM EST on Disney +.


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