“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
It happens to the best of us. Despite our good intentions, diligence, and desire to help others, we publish a blog post, or book, or article that is less than perfect.
Sometimes it contains a grammatical error, or an incorrect attribution of a source, or an overlooked typo that slipped past us. When our project reaches the hands of a professional reviewer, blog reader, or book purchaser, it garners negative feedback, unwanted attention, and potential embarrassment. Ouch!
Before you bury your head in the sand, or consider hiding out through the “witness protection” program, you should know that there IS life on the other side of a bad review. And, I should know.
A few years back, I was elated to release one of my first ebooks in a series, based upon the popularity of my blog.
I was convinced that this strategic move would elevate my writer’s platform to a new stratosphere and add bulk to my bank account. So, I submitted my work to a review service affiliated with a membership organization for writers, of which I was a member. I figured the publicity and positive endorsement would enhance my marketing efforts as well.
To put it mildly, it was an “eye-opening experience.” The reviewer’s critique stated: “The commas in the book were excessive, and at times distracting.”
After I ate some humble pie, I came up with a humorous response piece entitled: “COMMA SUTRA? HOW I TURNED A NEGATIVE REVIEW INTO A PLEASURABLE EXPERIENCE.”
I sold that knee-jerk essay for $75 to a leading writing blog. And, it gets even better. Piggy-backing off of this success, I wrote another piece with a different slant and more teachable moments, and sold it for an additional $50 to another ezine!
The lesson, writers? Pain can sometimes be profitable. It all depends on how you use it.
Of course, no one in their right mind would aspire to a bad review intentionally. But I can attest, as a veteran scribe, that when it comes to this industry, there are an array of things we simply can’t control (i.e. printing glitches, scammers posting false negative reviews, legitimate bad reviews, rejections, etc.). The best we can do is learn how to survive, and put a positive spin on negative situations if they arise.
Accordingly, here are a few tips to turn your bad reviews into good money and valuable wisdom!
1. TAKE ACCOUNTABILITY
“To err is human.” Most people don’t realize the power behind a simple apology. “I’m sorry” works wonders. When applicable, take ownership for your publishing error, show contrition, then keep moving forward!
2. TEACH A LESSON
The great thing about being a writer is the ability to share our insights and experiences publicly to help others avoid the same mistakes, and make wiser choices. Always look for “teachable moments” in your mishaps. What can you share to shorten another writer’s “learning curve?” To address their pain points? Your downfall can increase your “bottom line.” One thing I learned, for instance, is that one bad review won’t kill your reputation or ruin your image. Trust me. Even million dollar box-office movies sometimes receive poor ratings and “mixed” reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.
3. FIND THE FUNNY, FOLKS
A wise man once said: “If you can laugh through it, you can live through it.” Writing can be really intense, and mentally taxing, which is why it’s so important to find a little comedic relief in things that sometimes happen to us. Doing so can lead to a humorous personal essay, inspirational post to publish on your blog, or, minimally, an entertaining story for your next cocktail party. As writers, no experience is ever truly wasted.
4. NEVER LET ‘EM SEE YOU SWEAT!
Although the initial reaction to a negative review for many of us may be anger, denial, or defensiveness, if we are receptive, we can actually glean useful information that can enhance our future writing efforts. Take a step back. Exercise some objectivity and, when possible, try to see how you might improve your creative process, perspective, or approach. The more you learn, the more you‘ll earn.
To put these principles into practice, here’s a list of publications seeking essays about the writing life and other personal adventures: https://publishedtodeath.blogspot.com/2016/03/13-paying-markets-for-personal-essays.html
On a final related note here:
CONSIDER BETA-READERS BEFORE YOUR LAUNCH
If you are a self-publishing author, beta-readers can be invaluable in helping to produce a quality project. According to Nownovel.com: “Authors spend so much time writing and self-editing, they can struggle to read their work objectively. This is where the skills of a beta reader come in; they will give you a critical analysis of your work. The idea of ‘beta’ readers comes from the software sector, where beta users test an early version of a product before its released on the mass market.”
This gives you an opportunity to produce your best work.
Remember, bad reviews can sometimes happen to good writers. But, there’s an upside here: You can write your own happy ending to these stories by mastering these timely tips.
Have you ever gotten a bad review or critique. How did you handle it? What did you learn? Please tell us in the COMMENTS section below!
- Don’t Join A Writing Group. Join A CRITIQUE Group! By Sue Carloni
- How To Give A Writing Critique…Without Losing Friends! By Cortney Matz
- How to Get an Honest Critique of Your Writing (HINT: Don’t Ask Your Mom!) By Angela Hoy
- Check Your Book’s Reviews on a Regular Basis! By Angela Hoy
JENNIFER BROWN BANKS is a veteran freelance writer, author, and book review survivor. She has about 800 bylines to her publishing credit, in print and online publications. Visit her “Top Blog for Writers” site at Pen and Prosper.
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