By Mike Long
I think ‘bad’ reviews fall into two distinctly different categories. What most non-writers think of as bad reviews are those which point out some book's lack of clarity, editing, fairness, entertainment, continuity, sense of place, character development, etc.
Such criticism can certainly hurt a writer, personally and professionally. No one enjoys having their shortcomings pointed out, especially publicly and in writing. But, if fairly and politely delivered, those reviews can help writers avoid similar future pain. They can learn from the experience, clean up their acts, and provide better products–or move on to endeavors for which they are better suited.
The second type of ‘bad’ review includes those which are badly done. They hurt as much as thoughtful reviews, but serve no constructive purpose. Some are thoughtless, some deeply stupid, some well-intended, some obviously mean-spirited; none help, except perhaps turn off potential readers. Some of these examples follow, with their Star Ratings.
One star: “One of the best of this genre I've read. I can't wait for more from this author.” (Didn't understand the rating system.)
One star: “I just couldn't get by the third chapter.” (?)
One star: “Just too much fighting and bloodshed; I couldn't finish it.” (This was a war book; she was provided a synopsis by a paid reviewing service, after which she asked to review the book.)
One star: “I like science fiction, and won't buy anything else by this author.” (He received it on a free download.)
Two stars: “I just don't like Westerns.” (And she bought it why?)
Two stars: “Very rambling and episodic; no real plot, but well-researched.” (Back cover warns it is an epic tale, which indicates episodic.)
Three stars: “Good book. Great historical detail.” (?)
The thing to remember about the less-than-constructive reviews (especially the mean ones) is that you should never engage the reviewers’ rebuttals. Some are mere idiots, but others are trolls with nothing better to do than to show their power by putting down more successful persons. I sincerely believe these folks lead meaningless lives and only feel creative when causing havoc. They will love to pull you into a cat fight, a war of words in which they aren't restricted by truth or scruples.
Ignore them, unless you are moved to pray for them, as I do (mine are not nice prayers). Just keep writing.